I am a Renaissance art historian who looks at the use of the visual arts for purposes of power and propaganda, in all its shapes and forms. What interests me is how visual and material arts create an impression of power and in fact depict it. So, for that purpose, I look at pretty much anything that could express power: images, portraits, maps, buildings, the way spaces are furnished, the way spaces are used, the performances that take place inside them, where people go, and who is visible. Where do Renaissance women fit? Can women actively shape the way they are depicted? You get the gist.
So, for example, one of my research specialisms focuses on the cultural relationship of Italian provincial centres to their dominant political counterparts in the Renaissance period. Of similar interest are the power relations forged by he Tudors, and I have become ever more interested in the significance of Nottingham’s medieval and early modern past and monuments and I am looking at how the provincial elites of the area, the families of Wollaton Hall,Hardwick Hall, Burghley House, and, maybe an unexpected addition, Thoresby Hall, have fashioned their own identities through their houses and estates and related to the great centre of the court at London. A further interest of mine is China, especially Renaissance China, and I remain as fascinated by Marco Polo, the Silk Road, Beijing’s Forbidden City and cultural relations between elites, and East and West as I was as a teenager when I first read Marco Polo (see the link between China and Renaissance Venice?).
As a teacher, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pass on my subject- specific enthusiasm for all things Renaissance to my students, and I also try and work on the many weird and wonderful skills a professional academic and art historian develops in their working life. I take great pride in my teaching awards, and am especially pleased to be both a National Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. For me, teaching needs as much thinking about as research.
And then there are books. I retain my passion for reading ( I did a Joint Honours degree in English and History of Art at Aberdeen University) and one of the areas of interest for me here is the fictional representation of the Renaissance.
National Teaching Fellow (HEA)