• Date and time: Wednesday 17 July 2024, 10.30am to 4pm
  • Location: Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

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Event details

On 6 May 2023, Westminster Abbey staged its 39th royal coronation, confirming its continued cultural and political significance at the ceremonial heart of Britain. The Abbey also draws significant attention through both conventional and social media, and received more than 1.5 million visitors in 2022, making it one of the top 25 UK tourist attractions (latest available figures, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions).

However, research into the monumental fabric which informs these official and public engagements is startlingly scarce. Social and religious histories are usually prioritised over the monuments, despite their art historical significance as works by several of Britain’s most renowned sculptors who, among many others, became major influences in British monumental sculpture.

Monuments in Conversation: Westminster Abbey in the Eighteenth Century aims to rectify some of this dearth of scholarship addressing Westminster Abbey’s canon.

The conference will bring together experts in the fields of eighteenth-century studies, sculptural studies, and the history of Westminster Abbey to explore intersections between monuments in this vast commemorative pantheon. Conversations between the monuments and panellists will yield insights into themes of artistry and craftsmanship, race and empire, faith and ecclesiology and question what these complex and multifaceted displays of British sculptural identities mean in an increasingly contentious twenty-first-century context.

The event consists of two parts. A preliminary study group for speakers, including a visit to Westminster Abbey, in early June 2024; and a public conference informed by these initial discussions, held at the Henry Moore Institute on Wednesday 17 July 2024. This conference will take place over the whole day and conclude with a general round table panel, inviting contributions from audience members and speakers.

Monuments in Conversation is a collaboration between the University of York Department of History of Art and the Henry Moore Institute, with support from the University of York Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.

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Department of History of Art