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Special Double Bill Research Lunch

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Paul Mellon Centre

16 Bedford Square

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WC1B 3JA

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Sophie Hatchwell (History of Art Department, University of Bristol)

Grotesque Bodies: Second World War figuration in the work of Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde

Writing from London around October 1942, the Scottish artist Robert Colquhoun described the devastation of war and its effect on the arts, with ‘the actual presence of bombed buildings, the misery of shelters, the roll of deaths and the unspeakable horror that exists in most places in this Europe giv[ing] the lie to almost everything the artist can do.’

Departing from conventional Neo-Romantic characterizations of his and his partner Robert MacBryde’s art, this lecture will draw on new archival research to show how their experience of forced conscription and home front life informed these artists’ image-making from 1940-1946. Specific attention will be given to their figurative works and the ways in which they, in contrast to official war art, directly address the subject of bodily trauma and injury, a taboo issue in war-time Britain.

This research has been generously supported by a Barnes-Graham Trust Research Support Grant, and I am in the process of preparing a manuscript for publication.

Greg Salter (History of Art Lecturer, University of Birmingham)

Francis Newton Souza, Masculinity, and Migration in the Late 1950s

Francis Newton Souza's paintings of the late 1950s include warped, disturbing translations of religious imagery - a crucifixion, biblical figures, and bodies pierced by St Sebastian's arrows - as well as tense self-portraits and distorted, pained representations of black bodies. These are informed by his origins in an English-speaking Catholic family in the Portuguese colony of Goa, his childhood and early adulthood in India, and his departure for Britain in the late 1940s. This paper focuses on the male body within these works - a recurring subject for Souza - and explores how his art and writing consider how masculinity is negotiated within and affected by the experience of migration at this historical moment of decolonisation. Through this approach, Souza’s work can speak of the experience of migration and the history of the fraught, unstable figure of the migrant in British society.

Image credit: Francis Newton Souza by Ida Kar, 1961, film negative © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Paul Mellon Centre

16 Bedford Square

London

WC1B 3JA

United Kingdom

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