Past Events

Activating Art History: Curating Art History

Research Lunch – Ben Cartwright, Dr Cynthia Johnston, Dr Mark Sealy

  • 4 May 2021
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm
  • Zoom Webinar

Activating Art History is a series of panel discussions with curators, scholars, academics and authors who have all contributed to the study of British art history through the Paul Mellon Centre fellowships & grants scheme.

The aim of these sessions is to give insight into the many ways in which British art history research can be activated through exhibitions, books, digital projects and more. It is hoped that as well as being engaging and insightful, these sessions will also provide practical advice for those wishing to activate their own research.


Recipients of Paul Mellon Centre Curatorial Research Grants join Martin Postle for a panel to explore the different ways art history can be activated through curatorial methods. Each speaker will give a short presentation on their Paul Mellon Centre funded curatorial project before questions are invited from the audience.

About the speakers

  • Room with wooden rafters containing South Asian artworks

    Dr. Ben Cartwright is the Collection Curator at The South Asia Collection Museum in Norwich. He has curated exhibitions on a range of artists from Mortimer Menpes to Ravi Varma and the incredible Adivasi artists in the exhibition Beyond the Villages, as well as numerous displays on the crafts of South Asia. He is currently working on researching the lives and art of two sisters, Elizabeth Gwillim and Mary Symonds, in Madras in the first decade of the 19th century (work supported by the Paul Mellon Centre). He is also writing a book on following in the footsteps of the artist James Baillie Fraser through the Himalayas. And is a co-author of Sahaj: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat and Anaikya: Vernacular Furniture of Rajasthan.

  • Cynthia Johnston holding an open book.

    Dr. Cynthia Johnston is a lecturer in the History of the Book at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is a medievalist by training but her most recent work has been on cultures and practices of book collecting. Much of this work has focused on post-industrialist collectors of the North West of England. Her most recent exhibition 'Holding the Vision: Collecting the Art of the Book in the Industrial North West' was supported by the Paul Mellon Centre and the Society of Antiquaries. She has just published A British Book Collector: Manuscripts and Rare Book in the R.E. Hart Collection, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery with the University of London Press.

  • black-and-white headshot of Mark Sealy.

    Dr Mark Sealy, Executive Director of Autograph ABP (1991) and Principal Research Fellow: Decolonising Photography at University of the Arts London (University Arts London). Sealy is a core member of the Photography Archive Research Centre at London College of Communication. He is interested in the relationship between photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. He has produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide.