The Wonderful World of Disney


Dr John Disney established the Disney chair of archaeology. The lecture will explore the background to his benefaction. First, how did the Disney family acquire the collection of classical sculpture from Thomas Brand Hollis of the Hyde, near Ingatestone in Essex? Second, how did Disney gain an interest in archaeology?

Some of the sculptural material was derived by Brand Hollis and his friend Thomas Hollis on the Grand Tour during the 1750s. Other pieces, some of modern creation, were acquired by Disney during his visit to Rome in the 1820s. Essex was also linked to early excavations at Colchester on the site of the new county hospital. He was president of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society that had an interest in archaeology. The Society established a museum in the town. After the foundation of the Disney chair of archaeology, Disney helped to form the Essex Archaeological Society along with the first Disney Professor, the Reverend John H. Marsden.

“Made at Fitz”: Post-modern Geometric Greek-style art

Attic Geometric amphora, Athens, National Museum © David Gill

How do you explore decorating a rounded, three-dimensional object? What can inspire you? The Cambridge ‘Not praising, burying‘ workshop drew on inspiration from 8th century BC funerary pots decorated with Geometric figures. The texts acknowledge the ‘signatures’ found on much later Athenian black-and red-figured pots, and allude to the poetic process of creation in this stimulating environment.

Others adopted a more contemporary feel.

“Made at Fitz”. Photo: © David Gill

Not praising, burying: research creates art

Acknowledging Geometric Pots © David Gill

David Gill joined a day workshop at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge last week to explore themes emerging from Artful Crafts, co-written with Michael Vickers. The day, “Not praising, burying” had been organised by Dr Alana Jelinek, Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Participants will then attempt to understand its implications through a process of making, not replicas of past red- and black-figure pottery, but renegotiations of the proposed type of object in the light of this new understanding. Other formal contributions to the discussion will include an art historian’s and a philosopher’s response, though every participant is expected to participate fully in the discussion in order to understand afresh these supposedly well-understood objects. The process of making and thinking, where thinking informs making and making informs thinking, will be highlighted in this workshop, not the newly created vessels as product. These are to be understood as mere by-products of a larger artistic process. The process used in the workshop will be documented and presented as an artwork at a later date.

There is a follow-up seminar at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge on Thursday 8 November 2012 (see BBC).

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