Building on our conference in 2017 – ‘Decorating Dissidence: Modernism, Feminism and the Arts’ – this one-day symposium connected PhD/ECR students with academics, artists and curators who are working to expand definitions of the decorative in their fields. Keying in to East London’s radical history as a site where creativity, feminism, and activism meet, the event explored ‘making place’ through art, craft and the decorative in modernism’s longue durée. You can read our feature in The Modernist Review here.

The symposium explored the links between historic and contemporary decorative/craft practices to reassess their value in the worlds of art, design and literature. The symposium looked at site-specific works and identity to explore how decorative craft-makers can engage with protest in the artworld and beyond…

We asked questions such as: What does it mean to make artworks that challenge concepts of ‘place’? Can the decorative be political? How might craft disrupt the gallery and museum space? What might a feminist genealogy of decorative art and craft look like?

The full list of speakers and their abstracts can be found here.

The day ended with a screening of “The Famous Women Dinner Service”: In Conversation with Contemporary Art”, followed by a Q&A with Dr. Hana Leaper led by Jenni Råback. 


Programme of events

2 November 2018, 3–4.30pm | V&A, Blythe House; Fashion & Textiles, archive visit
A 90-minute tour/curatorial session looking behind the scenes at objects in the Blythe House archives. Find out the stories of some of the archives holdings and have the chance to ask questions to an expert.

3 November 2018, 10am-6pm
‘Modernism: Making, Place and Protest’ Symposium

3 November 2018, 6:30–8pm, Queen Mary, University of London
‘Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant’s The Famous Women Dinner Service’, film screening