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Annie Lady Brassey

Applications are invited for a collaborative doctoral project between the Department of Art History, University of Sussex, and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, investigating the photographic practice of Annie Brassey, and using her photographic albums as a resource to document and catalogue the Brassey collections of objects that she amassed during her travels around the world in the yacht Sunbeam. 

Advert Title:  AHRC/CHASE Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentship in collaboration with University of Sussex and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery – Mapping the Collections and Photography of Annie, Lady Brassey

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Hastings and Falmer, East Sussex
Funding for: UK Students / EU Students
Funding amount: AHRC stipend: for academic year 2018-19 this will be £14,777
Hours: Full or Part Time
Closes: Monday 7 May 2018, 12 noon

Mapping the Collections and Photography of Annie, Lady Brassey

Applications are invited for a collaborative doctoral project between the Department of Art History, University of Sussex, and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, investigating the photographic practice of Annie Brassey, and using her photographic albums as a resource to document and catalogue the Brassey collections of objects that she amassed during her travels around the world in the yacht Sunbeam. These collections are now housed mainly in Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, and part of the project will be to update the catalogue through reference to Brassey’s extensive photographic archive. Alongside this, the project will also seek to re-evaluate Brassey as a photographer, an aspect of her activity that has been under-investigated, and the role of women photographers generally in Victorian Britain, particularly in relation to travel.

The studentship

Annie Brassey (1839-1887) was a traveller, writer and collector who became famous during her lifetime through her published diaries, A Voyage in the Sunbeam: Our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months, that chronicled her family and crew’s circumnavigation in their steam-powered yacht R.Y.S Sunbeam from 1876-1877. Through exchanging, purchasing and receiving gifts, Annie Brassey obtained ethnographic objects, sculpture, textiles, weaponry, paintings and works on paper as well as collecting botanical and zoological specimens. A philanthropic, upper-middle-class woman, Brassey considered both R. Y. S Sunbeam and her homes at Normanhurst Court, Sussex, and at 24 Park Lane, London, as living museums; inviting both acquaintances and the general public to view her collections. The surviving objects constitute a significant amount of the holdings at both Hastings and Bexhill Museums. She was also an active photographer and compiled numerous albums related to her travels. This project seeks to map the collections and photography of Annie, Lady Brassey, for the first time treating these central components of her cultural life in conjunction with each other, rather than as separate spheres of activity, as they have been considered hitherto. By focusing on Brassey’s photography albums, it will both re-evaluate her role as a photographer herself, particularly in relation to her extensive travels around the world, and will also use the photographs as documentation to inform our knowledge and understanding of the objects she collected while travelling. Through drawing attention to Brassey as photographer, the project also seeks to inform the broader understanding of women photographers in Victorian Britain, a subject that has been substantially overlooked in the history of early photography. Considering both collecting and photography as integrated practices in Brassey’s life, the albums will thus be used as a means to map the Brassey collections in Hastings and Bexhill, to provide a comprehensive updating of the catalogue of the Brassey collections.

This collaboration will be between the Department of Art History, University of Sussex, and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. At the Sussex end, supervision will be undertaken jointly by Professor Geoff Quilley and Dr Meaghan Clarke, whose expertise on British art in relation to travel and empire, and women’s art and history, respectively, is internationally recognized. Supervision on the Hastings side will be from Catherine Harvey, whose first-hand knowledge of the Brassey collections at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and elsewhere, derived from fifteen years experience working with the Brassey collections, offers an unrivalled level of knowledge of the material culture pertaining to Lady Brassey – including both the objects collected on her voyages, and also the photograph albums she compiled – that will form the core of the primary source material that is the focus of the project.

The successful student will benefit from direct experience working with collections, particularly their cataloguing, documentation and object care, and within the professional environment of the Museum, deriving invaluable knowledge towards a subsequent career, whether within academia, the museum and heritage sector, or the creative and cultural industries more broadly understood. They will also benefit from museum-specific training opportunities as they arise, through Hastings Museum’s involvement in regional networks.

The Art History department at Sussex has a thriving postgraduate community, as well as longstanding and highly successful track record in collaborative doctoral projects. A series of work-in-progress seminars throughout the year brings invited external speakers to present current research; there are also regular postgraduate symposia, at which doctoral students are encouraged to present their own scholarship. Through the Doctoral School, training is provided on all aspects of doctoral study, and further training opportunities are available via the CHASE network. At both Sussex and Hastings, the student will have access to dedicated office space, computer facilities and extensive library and archive resources.

The candidate:

The role will require extensive on-site study of the collections and archives at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and Hastings Library; related collections will also need to be consulted at other institutions, including Royal Museums Greenwich, the Royal Geographical Society, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Huntington Library, California. Substantial travel will therefore be involved. The successful candidate will have a versatile and interdisciplinary approach to academic study, combining detailed object analysis with sophisticated historical and theoretical critique.

Essential skills/attributes: MA in Art History or a related subject, or equivalent professional experience; specialized knowledge of nineteenth-century art and photography.

Desirable skills/attributes: experience of working in a museum environment, particularly cataloguing, collections care and object handling; familiarity with online cataloguing systems used by museums and art galleries.

How to apply

Applications for this studentship must be made via the CHASE application form.

Applicants must also apply for a place of study at the University of Sussex


Terms and conditions

The studentship is subject to RCUK eligibility criteria, and will cover home or EU fees and stipend at RCUK rates for a maximum of three years full-time, or six years part-time study.

Informal Enquiries

Informal enquiries about this collaborative project can be sent to Geoff Quilley (g.quilley@sussex.ac.uk) or Meaghan Clarke (m.e.clarke@sussex.ac.uk)

Closing Date:              Monday 7 May, 2018, 12:00
Interview Date:          w/c Monday 14 May

 

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