May the New Year Shine: 2018 in Review, and welcome to 2019!

In today’s blog post I take a quick look back at a very busy year, and look forward to an equally busy and exciting year ahead in 2019.

What a year 2018 was! After finishing a term of teaching at the University of Sussex, at the beginning of 2018 I had just started a new job at the Sussex Archaeological Society. I worked at Lewes Castle and Anne of Cleves House, both in Lewes, as a Visitor Services Assistant. Norman Castles and Wealden Hall houses make for an excellent introduction to working in the heritage sector, and I loved speaking to the public about the history of each building and their collections.

My time at the Sussex Archaeological Society was also a time of meetings! I met my good friend Alex (who blogs at My Autistic Dance) in person for the first time; we chatted about history, beautiful views, and our mutual love of museums. PCSO Daryl Holter and myself also met up over tea – and mandatory biscuits – to discuss networking and partnership working in the heritage sector.

April saw me head to London for the Association for Art History Annual Conference at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Kings College London. It’s a conference I always attend if I can: as a PhD researcher and art historian, it’s so important to network with other art historians and hear about current research. My only criticism of the conference would be its overemphasis on academic careers in art history. The highlight of the conference, for me, was hearing the keynotes from Professor Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds) and Tristram Hunt (Victoria and Albert Museum). Each of these keynotes gave me much food for thought. Firstly in terms of academic art history – how do we rebalance art history? how can the discipline become more inclusive? and how do we ensure it remains relevant? And secondly in terms of the museums sector – how can it innovate? what relationships does it need to establish? how does the sector relate to communities outside London?

After a very busy time with the Association for Art History’s Annual Conference, I made my way to Royal Holloway University of London for the Annual London Victorian Studies Colloquium. Here, I gave a paper on some of my PhD research into stereoscopic photography and travel to the Far East, titled ‘And Now For Something Completely Different: Stereoscopic Photography and Travel to the Far East’. I’d attended the 2017 Victorian Studies Colloquium as a delegate, so it was a wonderful opportunity to attend in 2018 and actually give a paper.

In June, I created this blog, to record my journey and adventures in the heritage sector. Setting up the blog, its Facebook page, and the meeting with Daryl resulted in our first Heritage Meet-up at the Rights of Man pub in Lewes. People working and volunteering in the heritage sector in the Sussex area met for informal and friendly discussion over drinks, in the shadow of Lewes Castle. We wanted to continue these discussions beyond the meet-ups, so established The Heritage Hoot (if you haven’t joined already, you can do so here).

June also saw me start my new job as a Visitor Services Officer at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums. I’ve met some fantastic new colleagues and friends; they are a quirky bunch from diverse backgrounds. Many of them have taken a non-academic route in to the heritage sector and it has been fantastic to learn from their expertise in, for example, furniture making and music. Since starting work at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums, I’ve given talks on Regency era hand-held panoramas, stereoscopic photographs of Egypt, Victorian Christmas Cards, and Regency Christmas Feasts.

In the autumn, I was invited up to King’s College London by Subha Robert William to give a talk about stereoscopic photography and Egypt – with an archaeological slant! I met Subha at the Victorian Studies Colloquium at Royal Holloway and it was a real pleasure to be invited to speak. In October, I made my way up to the St Andrews Stereo Conference, which took place at the University of St Andrews. It was an amazing opportunity to meet and connect with other people working on stereoscopic photography – as practitioners, academics, artists, and collectors – and to visit beautiful Scotland.

2018 also saw me have a renewed focus on my PhD research, and I’ve done a significant amount of writing and editing. I’ve attended wonderful – if very busy – exhibitions this year as well, including Frida Kahlo at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts, and Burne-Jones at Tate. I also enjoyed a visit to the Battle of Hastings Re-enactment at Battle Abbey, a couple of concerts, and rediscovered my love of watercolour.

So after a year like 2018, what will 2019 be like? I am already lined up to give a paper at the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar Graduate Conference on Saturday 19th January. Then on the 29th January I will be exploring the Sussex landscape through the eyes of Eric Ravilious in a Bitesize Talk at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. I will also be making more headway with my research and writing, and look forward to getting involved in many exciting projects in the year ahead.

Happy New Year, and the very best of luck to you and yours.

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