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On The Way: Pilgrimage and journeying in the University of Bristol Print Collection

Ruined Buildings, c. 1600 by Raphael Sadeler (1560-1632)

Ruined Buildings, c. 1600 by Raphael Sadeler (1560-1632) Jamie Carstairs

Press release issued: 12 June 2013

On The Way, an exhibition curated by students from the University of Bristol's MA in History of Art: Histories and Interpretations opens in the Reception Room, 43 Woodland Road next week.

Over the last nine months, three students have been working with the University's Print Collection, a cache of art historical treasures that lay hidden for many years.  The students have researched a selection of prints as part of a curatorial module, culminating in an exhibition that reflects on the enduring theme of pilgrimage and its representation by artists.

The exhibition explores the ways in which notions of pilgrimage are alluded to, or embedded within, a selection of prints.  Although the images span a period of four hundred and fifty years, from the mid-sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, their subject matter stretches across two millennia.  Consequently, the students have chosen to consider pilgrimage in an expanded field, from the earliest days of Christianity to contemporary touristic journeying.

The University's Print Collection was compiled during the 1970s and used primarily as a teaching aid.  During subsequent years, however, the collection sat unused, stored away from view.  It has enjoyed a revival since 2004-5 when the MA in History of Art: Histories and Interpretations was conceived.  It is now used for graduate teaching to explore critical concepts and to interpret the contexts and meanings which inform individual images, and to provide MA students with an opportunity to gain experience of curatorial research.  By selecting individual prints from which a theme can be developed, graduate students use the collection to demonstrate how stimulating even a very small collection can be for engaging with new ideas and approaches in current art historical scholarship.


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