Contemporary Art in Heritage Settings
Introducing a new research project
Newcastle University researchers Judith King and Rebecca Farley report on the launch of a new research networking project exploring international and transnational approaches to contemporary art in heritage commissioning. The Artist's Studio Museum Network is a proud partner in this AHRC-funded project.
Placing contemporary artworks in heritage sites and museum collections has become an important component of creative programming for heritage organisations, resulting in powerful artistic responses ranging from performance, site specific and touring artworks, design and architecture and digital and physical interventions.
Since 2017, our team at Newcastle University has been leading a series of interdisciplinary research projects (funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council) examining the value of temporary visual art commissioning within heritage properties in Britain, mapping the current landscape, and exploring the impact of this activity on its producers and audiences. Working with multiple heritage sector partners – including National Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust, English Heritage, Arts&Heritage, and the Heritage Volunteering Group, we have approached this subject from multiple perspectives, bringing together the knowledge and experience of scholars, artists, heritage professionals, volunteers, and visitors. As part of this work we have generated over ten site-specific temporary and virtual artists’ commissions created for a wide range of heritage places, including four commissions created in response to National Trust Cherryburn – the birthplace of 19th Century artist and printmaker, Thomas Bewick.
'The principal aim of this new project – in which the Artist’s Studio Museum Network is a key partner – is to initiate a new International Contemporary Art in Heritage Network that will bring together UK and overseas academics, curators, artists, heritage and historic landscape organisations, and museum sites, to exchange and explore international and transnational approaches to contemporary art in heritage practice.'
Building on this past research, in August this year, we launched an exciting new project which for the first time expands our research into an international context. The principal aim of this new project – in which the Artist’s Studio Museum Network is a key partner – is to initiate a new International Contemporary Art in Heritage Network that will bring together UK and overseas academics, curators, artists, heritage and historic landscape organisations, and museum sites, to exchange and explore international and transnational approaches to contemporary art in heritage practice. Our Network will extend the interdisciplinary study of contemporary art in heritage practice, initiating the first international mapping of this field. Activities will be focussed on-line meet-ups, a pilot series of virtual artists’ commissions/residencies and a closing international symposium (to be held in autumn-winter 2024). Other contributing partners in this project are Arts&Heritage, National Trust, and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. The project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through an 18-month Research Networking Award.
More information on our previous Newcastle University-led research, including details of past artists’ commissions, can be found here https://research.ncl.ac.uk/mcahe/
The Artist's Studio Museum Network is delighted to be a partner on this project, and we look forward to updating our friends and supporters as it progresses.