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Material Witness.jpg

Material Witness

Material Witness is an interdisciplinary training programme for the interrogation of physical objects in the digital age.

Material Witness

Various dates (January - June 2019)

Material Witness is an interdisciplinary training programme for the interrogation of physical objects in the digital age.

The prevalence of digital images both online and in exhibition and museum spaces has resulted in the dematerialised object becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Interest in physical artefacts has intensified as a result, both within the academy and across the public sphere. Material Witness acknowledges the centrality of objects across the humanities and offers innovative and cutting-edge training to emerging scholars in a broad range of theoretical and practical methods for interpreting physical objects. A central theme of Material Witness is the mutually enriching relationship between the digital artefact and the ‘real thing’.

Material Witness will provide training for PhD students in techniques and methods for examining the material world. It aims to encourage researchers who come from different disciplines and backgrounds and who study diverse time periods, pre-modern and modern, to share ideas about the relationships between materials and meaning. The programme also promotes collaboration across (and beyond) the spectrum of humanities disciplines through the study of materiality.

The programme will take the form of day-long (11am-5pm) events for 12-15 participants which will take place during the Spring and Summer terms, with a concluding event at the Art Workers’ Guild designed to showcase skills learnt during the programme.

Material Witness will comprise six workshops:

1.    Monday 28 January 2019 - Material Text - FULLY BOOKED (join the waiting list by completing the form below)

A visit to the collections at Lambeth Palace Library organised by Teresa Lane, PhD student, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7JU.

The first event in #MaterialWitness 2019 will take place at Lambeth Palace Library, and will introduce participants to some of the problems and opportunities encountered in the examination and conservation of medieval manuscripts and their digital facsimiles. Participants will go behind the scenes in the conservation studio and will learn about the different approaches and techniques involved in preserving fragile books.

***Please note, that some areas at Lambeth Palace will be inaccessible for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.***

11.00: Arrive/coffee

11.30-13.00: Session 1 - Introduction to the collection of manuscripts at Lambeth Palace Library. A talk by one of the librarians covering the history of the collection and its highlights. This will be followed by a supervised handling session in the reading room.

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00-16.00: Session 2 - Visit to the Conservation Studio at Lambeth Palace. Participants will learn about the types of interventions that take place there and the range of analytical techniques that can be deployed in the examination of parchment books.

2.    Friday 1 March 2019 Material Sound 

The Horniman Museum is home to a world-class collection of musical instruments. As part of the #MaterialWitness 2019 programme, participants will be led through an object-handling session and instrument-making workshop with sound artist Sam Underwood.

3.    Friday 8 March 2019 - Conceptual Art

Led by Dr Christian Berger (Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art), this session in the #MaterialWitness 2019 programme takes the form of a day-long think tank addressing the materiality of conceptual art. Making use of archival material and current exhibitions, art historian Dr Christian Berger will lead participants through a critical discussion of materiality and the contemporary art object.

4.    Friday 22 March 2019 – Material Photography

Digital photographs are ubiquitous in modern humanities research. This session in the #MaterialWitness 2019 programme will encourage participants to interrogate physical objects through the creation of chemigrams – a type of photographic image made without a camera, using everyday objects. It will take the form of a hands-on workshop led by curator and multidisciplinary artist Melanie King, whose work explores materiality in relation to traditional printmaking processes.

5.    Friday 3 May 2019 – Material Drawing

Observational skills are vital to humanities research. Join us for a day-long drawing masterclass led by artist Adrian Dutton in which participants will learn to look through drawing and will explore different drawing materials and techniques.

6.    Date TBCMaterials in the Cathedral

A visit to Canterbury Cathedral to include tour of the building, the stone masons’ yard and stained-glass studio.

7.    Friday 7 June 2019 – Closing Event at The Art Workers’ Guild

Valedictory reception 4-8pm at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT.

This final event will include a key-note speaker followed by presentations from members of the Art Workers’ Guild on their crafts and opportunities for hands-on participation. There will be the opportunity to reflect on the programme and to discuss ideas for the future.

Notes for Participants

  • Participants may register for the first session at Lambeth Palace on 28 January 2019. The other workshops will be open for registration in due course. Places are limited so booking is essential.

  • Participants are encouraged to attend multiple workshops, although this is not essential.

The sessions are open to

Terms and conditions

  • By registering below, you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you. If you no longer require a place, please email as soon as possible so your name can be removed from the registration list.  

  • If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.

Please register here

Name *
I would like to attend the following workshop(s): *
***Please note, bookings for the other workshops will open in January 2019***

Material Witness Blogposts (from previous years)