Friday, 7 December 2012

William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow

Last week I visited the 'new-look' William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, which was an abundance of prints, paintings and furniture. I found it much more satisfying that the Tate's Pre-Raphaelite exhibition (reviewed below), and best of all it was free! It also has an excellent tea-room, and a lovely garden that you can explore (although in its present winter guise it is not too inspiring!).

The exhibition brought home three things: the sheer philanthropy of Morris, his incredible talent, and the far from modest beginnings in which he was brought up... Cynics might describe him as the ultimate 'middle-class guilt' artist, but I think he was far more than that.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde at Tate Britain

As a fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, I visited the new exhibition, 'Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde' at the Tate Britain today. It's a huge exhibition of some 180 pieces, but as someone who has visited Tate Britain, the Ashmolean and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (and even the small collection at the V & A) to view the PRB's art, it was all strangely familiar. In a way, it almost went against the grain of what I like about the paintings - the fact that they are often localised, or subversive, or don't quite fit in with other paintings within more traditional collections gives the paintings their individual appeal. When they are all stacked up together like this - DGR's 'Beata Beatrix', Millais's 'Ophelia', and Wallis's 'The Death of Chatterton' among them - they seem less individualistic somehow. I've always thought their power was something that grew on you slowly, thanks to the opulence of the colours, or the odd perspectives that were used; but when put together in a crowded space the time to linger on them is somewhat lost. As a 'literature' person I was also quite disappointed that more was not made of the literary connections of the paintings; though some paintings were displayed with their relevant poems attached, much more could have been made of the link between painting and poetry at the heart of the PRB (and even inscribed upon some of the frames of the paintings themselves). I did love, however, the room that gathered together furniture and wallpapers, stressing the collaborative side of the Brotherhood's projects - and placing the focus on William Morris's exceptional talent (see Morris's bed, above). The main result was that I really wanted to go to Kelmscott Manor to see more!

My new course: 'Irish poetry from Yeats to Heaney'

As part of my new post at OUDCE (which begins on 1 October), I am excited to be teaching a public course of my own devising, which anyone can attend. It's entitled 'Irish poetry from Yeats to Heaney': it takes place on Thursday evenings, and provides an overview of modern Irish poetry. I will be teaching a 'sister' course, 'Irish drama from Wilde to Friel', in the spring term. You can find out more on the OUDCE website, and there are still (limited) places available on the course.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Daniel Tobin's 'On Irish American Poetry'

I have a review upcoming in Irish Studies Review (20.4, November 2012) of Daniel Tobin's essay, memoir and poetry collection Awake in America: On Irish American Poetry, billed by its publishers as 'the first comprehensive study of Irish American poetry ever published'. Though some of it has been published before as articles elsewhere, it does suggest a wealth of possibilities for future study. Its focus and interests are slightly different to mine, as my work focuses on American poetry and fiction with Irish themes, but it is a welcome addition to the field of Irish/American transatlantic studies -- and shows how important the place of Irish culture has become within American literature.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

New review: 'The Irish Book in English, 1891-2000'

My new review of Volume V of a (very) ambitious project, on 'The Irish Book in English' from its beginnings until 2000, has just been published in the Review of English Studies (RES). The volume I reviewed covers the period 1891–2000. It's a great book to get hold of if you're interested in Irish studies, as it has a wonderful section at the end which reveals all the interesting archives and sources that remain to be explored within the field of twentieth-century Irish literature and culture.