Performative Lecture and Discussion | Almost Nothing But Blue Ground

Performative Lecture and Discussion | Almost Nothing But Blue Ground

Thursday 16 March at 13:30 | East Gallery

Artists Tom Pope and Matthew Benington present findings of their collaborative research-led project Almost Nothing But Blue Ground, in the form of a performative lecture and exhibition.

The performative lecture takes place on Thursday 16 March at 13:30.

Initiated in 2018, Almost Nothing But Blue Ground explores the work and life of Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photographic history who produced the first book to use photographic illustrations, ‘British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions’, in 1843. Pope and Benington’s project specifically focuses on the book ‘Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns’, which Atkins created collaboratively with Anne Dixon in 1853. Many of the ferns included in the book were from Jamaica, which led to the discovery that Atkins’ husband and father-in-law jointly owned at least eight plantations and thousands of slaves in Jamaica. The realisation that Atkins directly and indirectly benefited from the slave trade and colonial project refocused the artists’ research enquiry through a contemporary decolonial lens. In addition to the life and work of Atkins, Almost Nothing But Blue Ground investigates the Victorian fern craze, land ownership, capitalism, and the colonial project, in particular its links with botany and the plundering of foreign lands.

The research informed a performative week-long walk in 2021 from the house where Atkins lived in Tonbridge to Ferring where Dixon lived. The objects, archival material, and collaboratively made cyanotypes included in this exhibition are relics from the artists’ walk, which serve as illustrative exhibits for and remnants of the performative lecture.

Seating is limited, so booking is essential.

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Cavendish House
St Andrews Street

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