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Conference marks tercentenary of Thomas Wright, eighteenth-century polymath

Stoke Park

Stoke Park David Martyn - Studio Red

25 June 2011

A range of scholars from across the UK come together for a conference at the University of Bristol today to celebrate and reflect on the work of Thomas Wright, a fascinating eighteenth-century astronomer, mathematician and garden architect.

Thomas Wright (1711-1786) had a lifelong interest in theology, astronomy, natural history, philosophy and literature, and considerable skills in surveying, draughtsmanship and mathematical calculations.  A polymathic perspective permeates his entire body of work, which includes his largest surviving landscape at Stoke Park near Bristol.

At the conference, a series of fresh, informed academic papers illuminating Wright’s work from a number of different disciplinary perspectives will be presented. 

While the quality of Wright’s designs is undoubtedly enhanced by his polymathic profile, it has served to perpetuate a perception that he does not fit easily into the traditional account of the eighteenth-century landscape movement.  This conference aims to address this issue and further the interpretation and appreciation of Wright’s body of work. 

Keynote addresses will be given by Professor Emeritus Sir Arnold Wolfendale, the former Astronomer Royal who will speak on ‘Thomas Wright and the Universe’ and architectural historian Professor Emeritus James Stevens Curl who will speak on ‘The Landscape Garden and Freemasonry’.

Other speakers are: Judy Preston, Steven Desmond, Terence Reeves-Smyth, Jezzar Giray and Joe Hawkins.

The conference, hosted by the Institute for Garden and Landscape History, is supported by the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA) and the Alumni Foundation.

The conference takes place in the Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, BS8 1SS from 9.30am on Saturday 25 June.  If you wish to attend, please register here.

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