Past Events

From Ajanta to Sydenham: Indian art, imperial pageants and international exhibitions in early twentieth-century London

Lecture – Sarah Victoria Turner

  • 6 November 2013
  • 5:45 – 7:45 pm
  • Public Study Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Sarah's paper will examine the copies of the Ajanta "frescoes", made in the early twentieth century by Christiana Herringham and her team of Indian and British artists, within the context of their display at the Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham and alongside the Pageant of London in 1911.

A pink tinted photograph of a landscape scene

Postcard depicting the Festival of Empire, Crystal Palace, 1911,

Free and open to all. If you would like to attend please reserve a place in advance by contacting our Events Co-ordinator, Ella Fleming at [email protected]

About the speaker

  • [img]As Director, Sarah oversees all aspects of the Centre's activities, ensuring that it supports the most original, rigorous and stimulating research into the history of British art and architecture, and fosters collaboration with our sister-institution, the Yale Center for British Art. Her aim is to share the work and resources of the Paul Mellon Centre as widely as possible and to open up new conversations, ideas and narratives about the histories of British art.

    Through her work as the Centre’s Director and as an art historian, Sarah is interested in experimenting with different formats for communicating and publishing research on British art. She is a strong believer in the power of collaboration and specialises in bringing teams of people together to deliver innovative projects. In 2015, she became the founding co-editor of British Art Studies, an award-winning, open-access journal launched in 2015, which is co-published by the PMC and the Yale Center for British Art. With Andy Ellis of ArtUK, she came up with the idea for Write on Art, which is now an established national art writing competition for school students run annually by ArtUK and the PMC. Sarah is the co-writer and co-host, with Jo Baring, of the Sculpting Lives podcast.

    In 2018, Sarah co-curated The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, with Mark Hallett. She is also the co-editor of The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018, an open-access and peer reviewed digital publication consisting of texts by over ninety authors, which was the winner of the People's Voice Webby Award (2019). 

    She co-leads the London, Asia research project with Hammad Nasar, Senior Research Fellow at the PMC, and they will co-curate, with Amy Tobin, an exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge on the artist Li Yuan-chia and the LYC Museum and Art Gallery he established in Cumbria in the 1970s. Much of her writing has focused on the entangled relationships between Britain and South Asia and she has published widely on this topic. She was a founding partner of the Leverhulme-funded Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts c.1875–1960 international network, and was also Co-Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded Internationalism and Cultural Exchange c.1880–1920 network with Grace Brockington.

    Sarah was recently a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, teaching an MA Special Option course on British modernism for two years, and was a lecturer in the History of Art Department at the University of York from 2008–2013. She has co-curated and contributed to a number of exhibitions, including Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West (Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, Utah, 2013), William Etty: Art & Controversy (York Art Gallery, 2011) and Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition (Tate Modern, 2009).

    She was named one of Apollo magazine’s '40 Under 40' in the European art world, and in 2018 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. 


    ‘Waves of Light’, Rana Begum (London: Lund Humphries, 2021)

    'Raising Old Ghosts: Linder’s Conversations with the Dead', Linderism (Cambridge: Kettle’s Yard, 2020), pp. 65-71

    ‘Painting Portraits, Recording Lives’, Eileen Hogan: Personal Geographies (New Haven and London: Yale Center for British Art/ Yale University Press, 2019), pp. 188–203

    Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West, co-edited with James Mansell and Christopher Scheer (Lopen: Fulgur, 2019)

    Imagined Cosmopolis: Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s, co-edited with Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, and Daniel Laqua (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019)

    The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, co-written with Mark Hallett (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2018)

    The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1769-2018: A Chronicle (, co-editor and author, published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

    ‘Savagery, just beneath the surface: William Crozier’s early work’, William Crozier (Dublin: Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2018), pp. 10–33

    ‘What is to become of the Crystal Palace?’: The Crystal Palace after 1851, co-edited with Kate Nichols (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017)

    ‘The Poetics of Permanence: Inscriptions, Poetry and Memorials of the First World War’, Sculpture Journal, 24:1 (2015), DOI: 10.3828/sj.2015.24.1.6

    ‘“Reuniting What Never Should Have Been Separated”: The Arts and Crafts Movements, Modernism and Sculpture in Britain 1890–1914’, in Martina Droth and Peter Trippi (eds), Change/Continuity: Writing about Art in Britain Before and After 1900, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 14: 2 (Summer, 2015)

    ‘Henry Moore and Direct Carving: Technique, Concept, Context’, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity (London: Tate Research, 2015)

    ‘“A Knot of Violent Living’”: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Wrestlers’, in New Rhythms. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Art, Dance and Movement 1911 (Cambridge: Kettle’s Yard, 2015)

    ‘William Rothenstein, the ‘Indian Boom’ and the India Society’, in From Bradford to Benares: The Art of Sir William Rothenstein (Bradford: Cartwright Hall, 2015)  

    ‘Victorian Sculpture, International Exhibitions and Empire’, in Martina Droth, Jason Edwards and Michael Hatt (eds), Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention 1837-1901 (Yale Center for British Art/ Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 298–305

    Wrestlers (1914) by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Tate ‘In Focus’ project (2013):

    ‘Crafting Connections: The India Society and inter-imperial artistic networks in Edwardian Britain’, in Susheila Nasta (ed.), India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 96–114

    ‘“Alive and significant”: Aspects of Indian Art, Stella Kramrisch and Dora Gordine in South Kensington c. 1940’, Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing, 27: 2 (2012), pp. 40–51

    'Ezra Pound's New Order of Artists: "The New Sculpture" and the critical formation of a sculptural avant-garde in early twentieth-century Britain, Sculpture Journal, 21:2 (2012), pp. 9–21

    'Intimacy and Distance: Physicality, Race and Paint in Etty's "The Wrestlers", in Sarah Burnage, Mark Hallett and Laura Turner (eds), William Etty: Art & Controversy (London: Philip Wilson Publishers in association with York Museums Trust, 2011), pp. 75–90

    'Sex, Stone and Empire: Direct Carving and "British" Sculpture', in Modern British Sculpture (London: Royal Academy, 2011), pp. 100–105

    ‘Modernism and the Visual Arts’, in Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Parsons and Andrew Thacker (eds), Modernisms Handbook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 540–561        

    ‘The “essential quality of things”: E.B. Havell, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Indian Sculpture in Britain’, Journal of Visual Culture in Britain (Autumn, 2010), pp. 239–264                 

    Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition (London: Tate, 2007), author and editor of bibliography, biography and other endmatter for the Tate catalogue, pp. 198–208