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Research: Recent & past

Recent & Past Research

Recent and past research activity in the School of Art History & Cultural Policy include

Building Capacity for the Cultural Industries: Towards a Shared-Island Approach responded to the precarity of the Irish cultural industries recently underlined by Brexit and the global pandemic through championing and strengthening the shared island ecology of the professional performing arts industry. This project was led by Dr Victoria Durrer, UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy, who working along with dance and theatre practitioners, arts policymakers and academic researchers, examined the extent, nature and impact of cross-island relationships in the performing arts. This project was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) through the New Foundations, Shared Island Initiative Strand, supported by the Shared Island Unit.

The research projects impact case study can be read here >>>>

Dr Victoria Durrer is co-investigator on the Art for Reconciliation (AfR) project, which is led by Peter Shirlow at the University of Liverpool with colleagues Peter Campbell (University of Liverpool), David Grant and Des O'Rawe (Queen's University Belfast) and Matt Jennings (Ulster University). Art for Reconciliation (AfR) has developed within a growing field of arts practitioners, funders, community activists, educationalists and researchers who have used various art forms as methods of peace-building when responding to political conflict. Read more >>>>

Funded by UCD Humanities Institute Research Projects 2017-2020, this project is lead by Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald and Dr Emilie Pine (UCD School of English, Drama and Film).

Media, Encounter Witness: Troubling Pasts project will be a broad consideration of the aesthetic, political and ethical issues of ‘seeing’ and mediality. Our definition of ‘media’ of witness includes photography, cinema, television, visual art, theatre, digital texts, printed texts, material culture, spectacle, and the body in performance. We begin from the proposition that cultural meaning cannot be understood as separate from forms of production. The technological, aesthetic, and social dimensions of such productions are at the centre of this series’ investigations into how ‘witnessing’ is mediated and enacted. Read more >>>

Funded by UCD Humanities Institute Research Projects 2017-2020, this project is lead by Prof Kathleen James-Chakraborty and Prof Douglas Smith (UCD School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics).

This research project aims to question some of the ways in which relations between mainstream Western and supposedly peripheral cultures have been dominated by a one-way model of innovation and exportation, flowing irreversibly from Western Europe and North America outwards towards other regions. The main focus is an alternative reading of the history of modern architecture in its relationship not to the ‘core’ Western nations in which it initially developed but rather to the ‘outlying’ regions (such as Scandinavia, South Asia and South America) that protected and promoted an international style when it fell out of favour at ‘home’.

Philip Cottrell is involved in a collaborative project with the National Portrait Gallery, London which involves the creation of an online database devoted to an unpublished survey of over 200 British art collections carried out by Sir George Scharf in 1856/ 7. This arose from Scharf's stewardship of the largest exhibition of European art ever staged, the 1857 Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition - a watershed event of considerable interest for scholars of British and Irish collecting and art historians generally. Read more >>>

Connecting Early Medieval European Collections (CEMEC) is an EU-funded digital collaborative project between eight European museum collections, seven universities and six technical partners that aims to examine the connectivity between Early Medieval objects and the objects’ regions of origin with the aid of innovative digital technologies. This Digital Culture EA-EU Creative Cultures project includes input from Ireland, though a collaboration between UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy, the National Museum of Ireland and Waterford Museum of Treasures. Read more >>>

The social crises of 19th century Ireland — famine, displacement, and mass migration — coincided with the development of new forms of mass visualisation. This research by Emily Mark-FitzGerald addresses how Irish poverty was made visible as consequence of these technologies that develop rapidly across the span of only a few decades, including illustrated periodicals, photography, the magic lantern, stereoscopy, and early forms of cinema, for both domestic and diasporic audiences. Read more >>>

Remembering Modernism and Building Memory in the Federal Republic of Germany was the working title of Kathleen James-Chakraborty's 2017 publication Modernism as Memory: Building Identity in the Federal Republic of Germany, which addresses the role of ruins, fragments, and absence in churches, museums, and memoryscapes created in the Federal Republic of Germany since the end of World War II.   Read more >>>

From 2015-16 the Irish Museums Survey 2016 was carried out by a team based in the Irish Museums Association (IMA), in partnership with the Irish Museums Trust and the UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy. The principal aim of this research is to provide an up-to-date and expansive account of the Irish museums sector and its activities. Ten years have elapsed since the last all-island survey of Irish museums, with the most recent data published in 2005 (and previous to this, in 1994).  Since that time the Republic has weathered economic recession and the sector has experienced significant fluctuations in governance, budgets, and resourcing that have affected museums across the island. Read more >>>

Photograph of the covers to the 5 volumes of Art & Architecture in Ireland

Art and Architecture of Ireland published for the Royal Irish Academy and the Paul Mellon Centre by Yale University Press is an authoritative and fully illustrated account of the art and architecture of Ireland from the early Middle Ages to the end of the twentieth century. The volumes explore all aspects of Irish art and architecture - from high crosses to installation art, from Georgian houses to illuminated manuscripts, from watercolours and sculptures to photographs, oil paintings, video art and tapestries. This monumental work provides new insight into every facet of the strength, depth and variety of Ireland's artistic and architectural heritage. 

The Art and Architecture of Ireland project was initiated in the UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy by two members of staff: Paula Murphy and Nicola Figgis. Described as one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the Humanities in Ireland, the results of collaborative research will be published in five volumes in 2014 by Yale University Press, under the aegis of the Royal Irish Academy, and with the financial support of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Naughton Trust and other private sponsors. Volumes II and III are by Nicola Figgis and Paula Murphy respectively.

Volume II : Dr Nicola Figgis is editor of and principal contributor to Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol. II, Irish Painting 1600-1900 (Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 600, including 40 essays, 340 biographies, 500 illus.).

Volume II of Art and Architecture of Ireland contains a broad range of material on the painters and painting of Ireland from 1600 to 1900, a critical period that saw the development of easel painting, patronage, formal art education, the exploration of antiquarianism and search for the pictorial expression of national identity. Thematic essays explore art education, exhibiting practices and the social history of Irish art, revealing how pictures were produced, acquired and traded in Ireland; differences between artistic life in Ireland, in London and on the Continent emerge from the biographies and essays.

The following graduates were involved in the painting volume: Nesta Butler, Maria Arnold, Marie Bourke, Myles Campbell, Fintan Cullen, Róisín Kennedy, Vera Murtagh and Éimear O’Connor.

Volume III : Prof. Paula Murphy is editor of and principal contributor to Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol. III, Sculpture 1600–2000 (Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 600, including 250 biographies; 45 essays; over 500 illustrations). 

Sculpture 1600–2000 establishes the narrative of Irish sculpture across four centuries, examines the practice of making sculpture and identifies the paucity of available literature on the subject before embarking on a series of biographies of individual sculptors in the form of a gazetteer and a range of thematic essays exploring different aspects of sculpture in Ireland from architectural sculpture to wood-carving. The text is richly illustrated, including two picture essays and a series of images of sculptors at work.

The following graduates were involved in the sculpture volume: Máire Byrne, Rita Larkin, Conor Lucey, Claire Lowney, Jacqueline Hayes, Jacquie Moore, Joe McDonnell, Kate Antosik-Parsons, Myles Campbell, Ruth Devine, Sean O’Reilly, Sheila Dickinson, Emily Mark-FitzGerald, Róisín Kennedy, Ruth Sheehy, Sighle Breathnach Lynch and William Gallagher.

As the watershed event of 19th-century Ireland, the Famine’s political and social impacts profoundly shaped modern Ireland and the nations of its diaspora. However not until its 150th anniversary in the 1990s did the Famine receive widespread commemorative attention across Ireland, Northern Ireland and beyond. Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald’s research into the visual representation, commemoration, and cultural memory of the Famine, from the 19th century until the present, included the first extensive global survey of community and national responses to the Famine’s 150th anniversary, documenting more than 140 Famine memorials worldwide. By outlining why these memories matter and to whom, her research offers an innovative look at a well-known migration history, and explores how a now-global ethnic community redefines itself through acts of public memory and representation. 

Image: screenshot of Famine Memorial website

Dr Mark-FitzGerald’s research included extensive site visits; in-depth interviews with Irish, British, American, Canadian and Australian government officials, NGOs, commemorative committees, visual artists; and the collection of thousands of photographs, records of inscription and historical information. Significantly her study addressed both community and national forms of commemoration and memorialisation, considering together both 'popular' and 'official' responses to the anniversary. 

Dr Mark-FitzGerald’s research into these monuments was published in 2013, Commemorating the Irish Famine: Memory and the Monument (Liverpool University Press). The publication of Commemorating the Irish Famine was accompanied by the launch of an online resource (opens in a new window)www.irishfaminememorials.com, a project engaged in digitising historical details and Dr Mark-FitzGerald’s archive of more than 140 commemorations of the Famine worldwide. This material will be migrating to UCD’s Digital Library in 2017.

The School of Art History and Cultural Policy completed two digitised image databases as part of the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive (IVRLA) project.  These databases have now become part of the (opens in a new window)UCD Digital Library. Drawn from its extensive collection of 35mm slides, the digital collections focus on Dublin's eighteenth-century domestic, civic and ecclesiastical architecture.    

Photo of St George (C. of I.), Hardwicke Place: spire (upper stage)

As a record of buildings and interiors photographed over a period of approximately 25 years, this collection is intended to represent an important resource for research devoted to architecture and the built environment, as well as broader interdisciplinary studies related to political, economic and cultural geographies.

The Georgian Dublin: Architecture and the Built Environment project was developed and coordinated by Dr Conor Lucey. The research was funded through the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive (IVRLA), a component of the UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland, which was funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) through the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI). 

Visit the (opens in a new window)UCD Digital Library to browse photographs of iconic Georgian Dublin buildings from the slide collections in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy.

The School of Art History and Cultural Policy has collaborated with Artstor to share 620 images of the architecture and built environment of Dublin. A nonprofit digital library of more than 2 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences,  Artstor comprises contributions from museums, libraries, photo archives, scholars, artists, and photographers, and aims to include visual materials that are useful for teaching and research in a variety of subjects from prehistory to the present.  The development of the ARTstor Digital Library is always ongoing, and the School has collaborated with them to develop their holdings of Irish material with 620 slides of Dublin's architecture from the medieval to the early modern period. 

Included in the images contributed from the School's extensive collection of 35mm slides are pictures of many of Dublin's major civic and ecclesiastical buildings, together with important examples of domestic architecture.

The (opens in a new window)collection in Artstor includes images of the exteriors, interiors, and decorative details of individual buildings as well as streetscapes and general views of the built environment. They provide valuable documentation of the historic and ongoing changes to the urban fabric of Dublin, whether through development, demolition, or conservation. 

These images of Dublin's architecture are now available to educators, scholars, curators, librarians, and students at more than 1,400+ universities, museums and libraries in 46 countries worldwide. Artstor can be accessed through UCD Library electronic resources.

This digital collection has also been contributed to the UCD Digital Library.  

St. Stephen's Green, No. 56: plasterwork detail in stairhall

UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy

Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8162 | E: arthistory.culturalpolicy@ucd.ie