Symposium 2018


                            BUY TICKETS HERE

Building on our conference in 2017 – ‘Decorating Dissidence: Modernism, Feminism and the Arts’ – this one-day symposium connects 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 explores making place through art, craft and the decorative in modernism’s longue durée.

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

The symposium will ask 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?

Provisional titles for talks on the day include:

Enam Gbewonyo (artist/curator): Yarn, power and patriarchy: a painstaking exercise in unravelling the seams of oppression
Claire Mead (curator): Disruption and Collaboration: collectively queering the museum and archive through craft
Dr. Hope Wolf (Sussex): ‘Womb Life’: Portraits of Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff at Home
Priya Khanchandani (writer/curator): Decolonising Culture
Dr. Megha Rajguru (Brighton): ‘Constructing modernity: The Indian home in the Vistara exhibition’.
Professor Sanja Bahun (Essex): Lyubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova, and the Female Artist as Producer of Reality
Dr. Rosemary Shirley (Manchester): Festive Landscapes: Well-dressing and place in contemporary rural Derbyshire
Madi Acharya-Baskerville (artist): ‘Walking through the forest, Searching for the sea’: Finding, Collecting and Making
Dr. Louise Purbrick (Brighton): Rags and Resistance: everyday protests around the twentieth century
Kasia Jezowska (Oxford): ‘Too tentative.’ On the reception of Polish exhibitions at the Milan Triennali during the Cold War.

The day will end 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. 

Refreshments & a vegetarian lunch served as part of the ticket price. If you have any issue meeting the full ticket price, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Any questions, accessibility issues or dietary requirements please email

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.

Blythe House, Kensington Olympia

Sold Out. To go on the waiting list email

3 November 2018, 6:30–8pm, Queen Mary, University of London

‘Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant’s The Famous Women Dinner Service’, film screening

Screening of short film of conversations around Bell and Grant’s dinner service, followed by a Q&A with Hana Leaper led by Jenni Råback.

Ticket Info

Refreshments & a vegetarian lunch served as part of the ticket price. The registration for the two-days will be £10, however, if this presents any issues to your attendance please don’t hesitate to contact us. Any questions, accessibility issues or dietary requirements please email


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