Patronage & Pioneers
2017 Fairfax House Georgian Studies Symposium
Crafting an Enlightened World: Patronage and Pioneers will be Fairfax House’s Fifth Symposium in Georgian Studies. Held in conjunction with the exhibition Made in York: Inventing & Enlightening the Georgian City, it aims to delve deeper into the theme of ‘Crafting an Enlightened World’ during the long eighteenth century (c.1680-c.1830), examining its roots and legacy. The Symposium will focus on the driving forces behind creating an enlightened world, and in turn how the Enlightenment fed and helped forge the environment in which pioneering craftsmanship in Britain during this period took flight.
York, from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century, was amongst the key centres in Britain where ideas, innovation, experimentation and invention flourished contributing to what is now referred to as the ‘era of Enlightenment’. Indeed, York was to play host to nationally and internationally celebrated astronomers, historians, clockmakers, scientists, painters, sculptors, architects and cabinet-makers, as well as leading anti-slavery campaigners and enlightened mental health providers. The interdisciplinary nature of the talent which converged in vibrant hubs across the country such as York, reflected the spirit of the age in which scholars could simultaneously delve into religion, philosophy, natural sciences, mathematics, history and the arts, seemingly without conflict. These progressive environments were key in sustaining and nurturing talented – often providing vibrant nexus points through which talented thinkers, scientists, artists and craftspeople traversed, trained, worked and often decided to permanently reside.
Drawing on the breadth and diversity of enlightened talent which flourished in Britain during the era, the symposium hopes to offer a re-examination of the period, moving away from the London-centric narratives which have dominated analysis of the era, to a more nuanced yet holistic view of this period which also takes account of the regional Georgian urban realm.
The Symposium will take place over two days
Day One will explore the contexts which emerged and fostered ‘enlightened’ creativity in the period.
Day Two will primarily focus on ‘enlightened craftsmanship’, in all its many varied forms and expressions and examine the processes of invention, creation and crafting which gave physical expression to the phenomenon of the ‘enlightenment’. In the light of Fairfax House’s recent acquisition of Grinling Gibbons’ first-known, made-in-York artwork, the King David panel, a key part of Day Two will be devoted to his work and the intersection of Gibbons, pioneering craftsmanship and the Enlightenment.