Word as image: text beyond narrative in British art

Trent Building B46
Wednesday 15th November 2023 (16:00-18:00)

This work-in-progress paper from Sophie Hatchwell considers how word and image come together to constitute meaning within visual art, with a focus on contemporary British art. Taking a post-structuralist approach, they seek to trace the processes of interconnection between word and image along multiple and nonhierarchical lines of contact, as a riposte to the semiotically-orientated approach taken by theorist like W.J.T Michell. This paper will centre on a case-study taken from the current research project, ‘Word as Image: visual text in 20th century British art’, and will look at Lubaina Himid’s 'A Fashionable Marriage: The Art Critic' (1986). They shall discuss how a non-hierarchical model of text-image relations complicates, yet is also complicated by, historical assumptions about the ‘narrative’ character of British art.

Sophie Hatchwell is Associate Professor of History of Art at the University of Birmingham, where they lead the History of Art MA Programmes. Their research looks at text-image relationships and regional display cultures in 20th century Britain. Their current research project ‘Word as Image: visual text in 20th century British art’ has been supported by a Visiting Fellowship at the Warburg Institute. Previous publications have focused on art writing and aesthetic experience in Britain, including the articles “Transcribing Form” (2022), “Painting as Transnational Language in Edwardian Art Writing” (2019), and the monograph 'Performance and Spectatorship in Edwardian Art Writing' (Palgrave, 2019).


This talk is the part of the CRVC’s research theme for 2023 to 2024 '…and painting continues'.

Centre for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

email: mark.rawlinson@nottingham.ac.uk