Exhibition: ‘A Piece of Nature’ Arts & Crafts Perceptions of Nature and the Byzantine Monument

https://nature.bsa.ac.uk/

The relationship between nature and architecture was particularly emphasized by the Arts & Crafts members as an expression of man’s inner-relationship with his natural surroundings. Historical architecture, in particular, had a central role in this interaction between man and the physical world. Medieval architecture, primarily the Gothic cathedral, was admired for its natural forms and the close almost mystical connections that it managed to establish with nature.

Pioneer architects of the British Arts & Crafts movement, such as Robert Weir Schultz and Sidney Barnsley of the British School at Athens BRF Archive, following the example of John Ruskin, William Morris and their Arts & Crafts masters, were among the first to record, document and study surviving Byzantine monuments in the Eastern Mediterranean. Their attitude towards the remains of Byzantine heritage in the region, eloquently reflected in their recordings and, later, publications, demonstrates a pronounced concern, at the footsteps of their masters, for the multiple interconnections between a historic building and its natural surroundings. Byzantine architecture was considered an essential part of the landscape and, vice versa, nature, the physical world, its forms and qualities were reflected in the historic building both in the way it developed as well as in impressive or even minute details in its architecture and decoration.

This exhibition was created for Nature and the Environment: the 53rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, which was planned by the late Dr Ruth Macrides, and it is dedicated to her memory.

Online Resource: Syrian Architectural Heritage Released on Wikimedia Commons

Dumbarton Oaks

More than 9,700 photographs of Late Roman and Byzantine monuments in Syria are being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, in keeping with our Access Initiative to make Dumbarton Oaks collections and scholarship more broadly available. In 2016, retired historian Frank Kidner donated photographs he had taken of Syrian sites in the 1980s and 1990s to Dumbarton Oaks. Emphasizing ancient villages in the modern-day province Idlib, west of Aleppo along the border with Turkey, the Frank Kidner Photographs collection documents sites of historical and archaeological significance while capturing scenes of daily life. His poignant photographs of children playing among the nearly 2,000-year-old ruins stand in stark contrast to familiar images of the ongoing refugee and displacement crisis stemming from the Syrian Civil War. Kidner created a comprehensive resource—drawing together topography, evidence of communities that once lived in the region, and architectural details—that is useful for researchers and scholars across a breadth of fields.

Online Resource: Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt Catalogue

Dumbarton Oaks

Experience the vibrant colors and array of textures that enlivened interior spaces in early medieval Egypt. Recent exhibition Woven Interiors—a collaboration with The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum—presented rare and fragile masterpieces from major American institutions, including many textiles that had never before been exhibited or had remained in storage for decades. Now, download the digital catalogue free of charge to explore some sixty remarkable pieces. Essays from curators Gudrun Bühl, Sumru Belger Krody, and Dumbarton Oaks Assistant Curator of the Byzantine Collection Elizabeth Dospěl Williams highlight major themes of the exhibition, including aesthetics, sacred imagery, comfort at home, and continuity and change. To purchase a hard copy of the catalogue, contact our Museum Shop.

Online Resource: International Byzantinist Reading Group

A message from the organisers (note that, if you are too late for this session, the group will contiue to meet on subsequent Sundays):

Dear Colleagues,

In light of all the cancelled talks, conferences, etc. because of the current pandemic, we, Scott Kennedy and Ugo Mondini, have created the International Byzantinist Reading Group for graduate students, post-docs, and faculty as a digital space for discussion among scholars currently scattered around the world. We aim to build solidarity among academics interested in late antique and Byzantine culture as well as to lay the foundation for future exchanges and collaboration.

The Group is now in its fourth meeting. Meetings are held on Sundays at 8 pm (Rome time) via the video-conferencing platform Zoom. Based on the number of participants, we do two kinds of discussion groups during a meeting: (1) small group discussion and (2) large group discussion. Through Zoom, we can breakup meeting participants into groups of 5-6. For the first 30 minutes of the meeting, we break participants up into these small groups, so that everyone has the opportunity to speak and discuss the reading with their group. Then for the last 20-30 minutes of the meeting, we discuss the reading altogether. We use the raise your hand feature on Zoom to moderate discussion for the larger group.

For our next reading session (Sunday, 26th April 2020), we will be moving back to late antiquity with the following reading

A. Kaldellis, “How perilous was it to write political history in late antiquity?”, Studies in Late Antiquity 1 (2017) 38-64

You can find the paper on Kaldellis’ academia.edu account: https://bit.ly/3autKNO

If you are interested in participating in this week’s meeting or future meetings of the group, please email Ugo Mondini (ugo.mondini@unimi.it). All participants will be sent an invitation to join the meeting on Sunday via email.

See you next Sunday
Scott Kennedy (scott.kennedy@bilkent.edu.tr)
Ugo Mondini (ugo.mondini@unimi.it)

Online Resource: North of Byzantium: Medieval Art, Architecture and Visual Culture in Eastern Europe

North of Byzantium (NoB) is a new initiative organized by Maria Alessia Rossi (The Index of Medieval Art) and Alice Isabella Sullivan (Getty/ACLS), and primarily sponsored by the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture. Through its annual events, NoB explores the rich history, art, and culture of the northern frontiers of the Byzantine Empire in Eastern Europe between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, and aims to connect students, scholars, teachers, artists, and curators to resources related to the medieval and early modern artistic production of Eastern Europe.

Visit the NoB website and subscribe to receive news and updates.

We are in the process of developing this platform and we would be grateful for any further details and relevant information that we could add under “Resources” and “Related Events” – send us a note at northofbyzantium@gmail.com.