Defining a dynamic late medieval image: the changing form, patronage and audience of the Jesse Tree reredos at St Cuthbert’s Wells.
Supervisor: Gervase Rosser
I am interested in the role images played in the late medieval English parish church.
Despite its huge significance, the Jesse reredos has been overlooked in the art historical literature, largely because of the marginalisation of fragmentary objects, and those outside cities (and museums), particularly those in parish churches. The thesis seeks to reposition the reredos at the centre of art-historical understanding of late medieval sculpture in England, and the role of images in parish churches in this period.
The form (and subject matter) of the reredos is very unusual for a nave side altar. I argue that the burgesses must therefore have had overwhelming reasons to choose it, and that these reasons were rooted in their relationship with the cathedral and the government of Wells.
Before I began my DPhil, I spent twenty years at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in a variety of curatorial and project management roles. My projects included the major loan exhibition, Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547 (2003-4) and the new permanent Medieval and Renaissance Galleries (which opened in 2009), as well as the record-breaking exhibition, David Bowie Is… (2013).
In addition to parish churches, devotional images and medieval sculpture, my broader interests include English country houses, museological practice, particularly in the display/interpretation of medieval objects, and the senses and their role in the creation and reception of art, particularly in the context of the museum.
Ongoing: trustee of the Northamptonshire Victoria County History Trust and Northamptonshire Historic Churches Trust, member of the Oxford University Heritage Network
2023: course leader, The English Country House summer school (Oxbridge Academic Programs)
2021-2: catalogued medieval objects for the Gatsby cataloguing project (Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia)
2021: co-ordinator, Mission in Revision collaborative project between the University of Oxford and the Church of England Church Commissioners
2019-21: led research skills training sessions for the National Trust (TORCH/National Trust partnership)
2020: research placement, Compton Verney Art Gallery, Warwickshire, focusing on the Neapolitan art collection 2019: researcher on Talking Sense: research group bringing together Oxford early career researchers from diverse disciplines to shed new light on the permanent collection of the Ashmolean Museum through a series of interdisciplinary gallery talks and podcasts: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/episode-11-stripping-back-sharpen-senses-holy-...
2018: Royal Women of Influence in Medieval Coventry: display focusing on Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou (TORCH project with Medieval Coventry)