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Scholarcast 10: Dust and Debitage: An Archaeology of Francis Bacon's Studio

Blaze O'Connor


This short paper offers a personal reflection based on the author’s involvement in the reconstruction phase of the Francis Bacon studio project. During this project, archaeologists were employed to deconstruct or ‘excavate’ the contents of Francis Bacon’s painting studio in London, and meticulously reconstruct the room at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. The studio had long been renowned for its wondrously chaotic contents, its floor strewn with the debris of his creative practice, and its walls – which played the role of artist’s pallet - embellished with vibrant pigments. The paper draws on ‘rubbish theory’ relating to the aesthetics of industrial ruins exemplified in the work of Tim Edensor. This research provides a way of exploring why Bacon may have found working in the archaeological equivalent of a ‘midden’ both an efficacious and enjoyable process.

Blaze O'Connor

Blaze O’Connor is a Humanities Institute of Ireland Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at UCD School of Archaeology, University College Dublin. Her current research focuses on the archaeological context of prehistoric art, in particular the stone carving practices of the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Ireland and Britain. Before commencing her doctoral studies and a subsequent lecturing position at UCD, Blaze worked as an archaeological surveyor for Margaret Gowen and Company, the archaeological consultants responsible for ‘excavating’ and reconstructing Francis Bacon’s painting studio. She has previously worked at Bournemouth University, the Museum of London Archaeology Service, and the University of Auckland.



Series edited by: Ian Russell.
Commissioning Editor: P.J. Mathews 
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography and development by: John Matthews, Brian Kelly, Vincent Hoban &
Niall Watts at UCD IT Services, Media Services.
Consultant Producer: Clíodhna Ní Anluain, RTÉ

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