I conduct research into the long history of iconoclasm or image breaking (the deliberate defacing dismantling or destruction of works of art and historic artefacts) and its significance for social groups and institutions. My latest monograph Iconoclasm and the Museum explores the museum’s attitudes to iconoclasm in the stories it tells about its objects through public display.
I am the Programme Director for the MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies (AMAGS).
I bring to the School expertise in medieval and contemporary art history and in curatorial practice. I bring sector-facing knowledge from my time at The Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh the University of Edinburgh (VARIE) and the Henry Moore Institute Leeds. Curatorial collaborations include Wonder: Painted Sculpture from Medieval England (Henry Moore Institute Leeds) and Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (Tate Britain co-curated with Tabitha Barber).
My main research interest is in contemporary and historical acts of iconoclasm. Iconoclasm and the destruction of art are long established topics in the history of Byzantium the Northern European Reformation Revolutionary France and Nazi Germany but only in the past two decades has the subject grown to become a global contemporary subject of study in the humanities and social sciences. My research in this field includes edited volumes and curated exhibitions and a monograph.
My book Iconoclasm and the Museum (2020) presented research into objects of iconoclasm - from defaced medieval sculptures to the attacked Rokeby Venus from deposed confederate monuments to destruction in contemporary art practice - undertaken in 20 museums and archives in Memphis, New York, Philadelphia, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Yorkshire, Utrecht and Venice.
Past grants (Marc Fitch Fund CCSAH Research Development Grants) supported new research for the monograph. A British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant initiates the next stage of research into Negative Space Analysis and leads to a larger scale comprehensive project analysing medieval objects of iconoclasm in church collections.
(0) Iconoclasm and the Museum (London and New York: Routledge, 2020). (Monograph)
Co-editor with Leslie Brubaker and Richard Clay, Striking Images: Iconoclasms Past and Present (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013; reprinted London and New York: Routledge, 2018).
Co-editor with Tabitha Barber, Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (London: Tate, 2013).
Co-editor with Richard Clay, Iconoclasm: Contested Objects, Contested Terms (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007; reprinted London and New York: Routledge, 2017).
Co-editor with David Park and Paul Williamson, Wonder: Painted Sculpture from Medieval England (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2002). [Highly Commended Award, AXA/Art Newspaper Exhibition Catalogue Awards 2003.]
'Remembering and Forgetting Confederate Monuments: Taking the Bitter with the Sweet'; co-authored with Richard Clay, Keith Magee, and Michelle Duster, The Sculpture Journal 31/1, 2022.
Destruction in Art and Film, Handbook of Heritage Destruction (Routledge, forthcoming 2022).
'Idol and Idolatry', Oxford Encyclopaedia of Religion and Art (forthcoming 2022).
'Michael Landy: Break Down: Twenty Years', online and print essay accompanying Michael Landy, Break Down: Twenty Years, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (13 April-6 June 2021) and Firstsite, Colchester (19 June - 5 September 2021), https://website-artlogicwebsite0087.artlogic.net/viewing-room/8/?_preview_uid=4a320753f0504c7a96a150266c234a0e&version=a3f56e, 13 April 2021.
'Speculations on the Visibility and Display of a Mortuary Roll', chapter in Jack Hartnell, eds., Continuous Page. Scrolls and Scrolling from Papyrus to Hypertext (London: Courtauld Books Online, 2020).
I am interested in supervising PhD projects related to the expanded field of iconoclasm (including the destruction of art) provenance studies transhistorical exhibitions and curatorial studies.
As Programme Director for the MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies Programme (AMAGS) since 2016 I have brought a wide range of innovative approaches to teaching management and leadership. In the AMAGS MA Programme my teaching includes leading modules and leading projects within modules contributing content to other modules supervising MA research projects (dissertations) and as a supporter of the placement module bringing in several art institutions as new placement partners (including Dulwich Art Gallery, Hepworth Wakefield, the Henry Moore Institute, Hospitalfield, Jupiter Artland and others). I have been the module leader teaching exhibition curating interpretation and programming in Curating Now (2016-21) collections management art handling object biography and iconoclasm in Managing Art Collections (2016-19); and I have been teaching the practice of curating art exhibitions and project management in curating the student exhibition for Entering the Field (2016-21). I have also contributed to the modules Becoming Expert and Managing Art Collections lectures on the history of art history and the value and impact of early art historical methodologies.
Press and media
Iconoclasm (Reformation and contemporary); destruction of art; monument toppling; vandalism; medieval sculpture and manuscripts; contemporary art; artists and experimental practice.
In 2018 I was awarded the ‘Creative Innovator’ Discovering Excellence Award 2018 at the University of Leicester for innovations in student teaching based around information management and tutorials/pastoral care.
The student-nominated Superstar Awards have resulted in my nominations for Best Lecturer (2020/21; 2019/20; 2018/19) Best practice in inclusive learning and teaching (2018/19) and Best Personal Tutor (2018/19).
14 June 2021 “‘Say Her Name’: Iconoclasm Monuments and Museums” Unwanted Histories: The Legacies of Contested Monuments and Objects: New Homes New Interpretations New Meanings Department of History Universiteit Leiden.
22 January 2021 “Conversation on Black Lives Matter” Toppling Things. The Visuality Space and Affect of Monument Removal Departament d'Humanitats Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona.
10 December 2020 “Beyond Reconstruction: Site-specific Displays of Medieval Sculptural Fragments” 7th Annual Colloquium on Current Research in Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture: The Afterlife of Medieval Sculpture M-Museum Leuven.
12 November 2019 “Deface and Destroy” Off the Plinth: Episodes in the History of Public Sculpture Autumn Art Lecture Series University of Bristol.
17 June 2019 “Art under Attack” Chelsea College of Art UAL London.
16-17 March 2018 Chair of “Making Sense: Body and Mind’ session in New Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture Conference Henry Moore Institute Leeds.
October 1993 to July 1997: Ph.D. Department of Art History and Archaeology University of Manchester. Thesis title: “The Rise of Chantry Space in England from ca. 1260 to ca. 1400”. Supervisor: Paul Binski.
August 1991 to May 1993: M. A. Department of History of Art and Architecture University of Pittsburgh. Thesis title: “The Eleanor Crosses: A Study in Typology and Meaning”. Supervisor: Alison Stones.
August 1986 to May 1990: B. A. (Hons.) Fine Art and Art History cum laude Phi Beta Kappa Rhodes College Memphis; inc. 1989 semester at Dept. of Art History & Theory University of Essex.