Art and the City: Bristol at 650 – Autumn Art Lectures 2023

By George Thomas, Faculty of Arts Research Events and Communications Coordinator

The Autumn Art Lectures are here again and this year we are on the move!

2023 marks the 118th anniversary of the Autumn Art Lecture series. Conceived as a platform for Art and Art History in what was then University College Bristol, the series has remained a highlight in Bristol’s cultural calendar. Over the course of its lifetime, the series has explored themes ranging from the monstruous to the celestial, and hosted such luminaries as Kenneth Clarke, EH Gombrich, Toshio Watanabe, Laura Mulvey and David Olusoga. More recently, a commitment to making space for artists to discuss their own practice has added Paul Gough, Richard Long and 2022 Turner Prize shortlisted-artist Ingrid Pollard to the series’ list of prestigious alumni.

Last year to mark the centenary of modernism’s annus mirabilis, the series sought to challenge the concept of modernism as a monolithic entity. By paying particular attention to Blackness, Asian-ness, difference, and decolonisation, the series toppled the notion of a Euro-American Modernism which leaves the non-Western world out in the cold. Talks by Professor Simon Shaw-Miller, Professor Kenneth David Jackson, Jane Alison and Hammad Nasar from the 2022 series are available to listen back to on the University of Bristol’s SoundCloud.

Our theme this year coincides with Bristol 650, the year-long celebration that marks the anniversary of the 1373 royal charter, and will focus on some of the historical, cultural and conceptual spaces of Bristol. AAL2023 will be an opportunity not just to talk about Bristol and its (in)visible histories, but also to step into the city itself. Events will be hosted in venues that span Bristol – from the Cathedral at its heart on College Green, to Spike Island in the midst of the river that defines the city’s cosmopolitan past and present. Our speakers include curators, artists, and academics, who together will take us on a journey through both familiar and unfamiliar aspects of the city’s history, including its place in the wider world.

The event series is open to all, and we look forward to welcoming you to the University of Bristol for these engaging talks.

Events in the series:

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