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Contemporary Portraiture and the Medieval Imagination: An Artist in Conversation with Her Sitters

Throughout lockdown, we at MEMS have endeavoured to make our online resources available to everyone interested in medieval and early modern culture. Since the start of the new academic year in September 2020, we also transformed the way in which we host our MEMS Research Seminar Series, which 'takes place' every Thursday at 6PM in term time. Instead of having in-person events (formerly hosted on our Canterbury campus), these are now live-streamed via Zoom. While we have missed meeting with our community face-to-face – and sharing our ideas together over a lukewarm glass of boxed white wine or orange juice – one of the benefits of converting our seminars to this virtual format is their accessibility. Now, anyone anywhere can join us at MEMS for our Research Seminars.

On Thursday 29 October, we hosted a very special event on Contemporary Portraiture and the Medieval Imagination: An Artist in Conversation with Her Sitters, featuring Lorna May Wadsworth, the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, and Neil Gaiman. The discussion that followed was fascinating, covering topics related to the female gaze, the context of displaying pictures in sacred space, and the essential relationship between the artist, sitter, and the imagined public in portraiture.

We recorded this event to ensure that it could be watched later. In addition to posting it to YouTube, we have manually transcribed the captions for the video too. To watch the webinar with our own transcribed captions instantly, you can use the links to our Panopto files, copied below. There is also a link to the accompanying catalogue raisonné, a digital handout for any listeners, available here on our GoogleDrive.

We want to thank our 410 registered attendees for joining us during this Conversation, and the 200+ participants in the Q&A session. We also are grateful to Philip Mould, Canon Tim Naish, Cressida Williams, and Bernard Shapero for their thought-provoking questions. We also would like to express our gratitude to Sophie Kelly and Roisin Astell of MEMS for assisting with this event, and ensuring the successful delivery of this Conversation online. Finally, to Lorna, Neil, and Rowan: Thank you for sharing your talent and your generousity with all of us at MEMS.

Please do watch and share this illuminating (and heartwarming) Conversation between an artist and her sitters.

– Emily Guerry, Co-Director of The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)

Webinar with captions:

You can access readable text files for the introduction here and the webinar text here.

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