Decipher at Surface Gallery


Entering the Decipher exhibition at Surface Gallery is more like stepping into a landscape than a white cube gallery. The expansive space reveals a patchwork of environmental settings, with soil and sand filling the ground, an urban wall snaking through the space, and an imposing 7ft scarecrow watching gallery visitors mingle. The landscape is an intriguing mismatch, somewhat reflecting the diversity of artists and their cultural backgrounds being represented in the exhibition.

Decipher features artists from across the globe who all have links to Nottingham Trent University. The exhibition was conceived as a collaborative experiment where the five exhibiting artists exchanged texts belonging to their unique cultural backgrounds and then created an artwork to reflect their interpretation. Despite the vast array of subjects, approaches, and aesthetics, the exhibition is a thoughtful enquiry into the coexistence of landscape and identity. It urges visitors to decipher an unsolvable question; how can we…

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Exploring Sir John Ninian Comper’s church of St Mary the Virgin, Wellingborough


The week before last, several Undergraduate and taught Masters students joined Dr Ayla Lepine and David Lewis in a visit to St Mary the Virgin, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. As an extension of the topics discussed in the module ‘Religion, Architecture and Visual Culture in Britain from 1851 to 1951,’ the trip provided students with an exploratory and practical seminar inside one of Sir John Ninian Comper’s churches of the Twentieth Century.

Comper (1864 – 1960) has been hailed as “the greatest British church architect of the twentieth century” and one of his finest achievements was the design of St.Mary’s. A committed Gothic revivalist, Comper experienced his own personal epiphany on trips made to Europe in the early 1900’s, when he realised that the beauty he sought to embody in Christian Architecture need not be found exclusively in the English Medieval but could incorporate the very best of other architectural traditions and…

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Building a portfolio career


Studying at the University of Nottingham can open doors. An Art History degree is a passport to a career in museums and arts organisations, publishing and journalism, and beyond. But government funding cuts, growing digitisation and the worldwide web mean that different ways of working are now required for a career in the creative sector. Technology is changing fast, and so is the society that we live in. Happily, you can carve out your own niche with a ‘portfolio career’, which means building a portfolio of multiple strands to your career.

If you enjoy doing different extra-curricular activities at university, such as curating art exhibitions, writing for the local newspaper, or volunteering with young people in the community, it could be a fulfilling path. This route is ideal for creative and flexible people. While studying for a degree in Art History and English, I took my first steps towards…

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#teachingrenaissance: talking Tudors in Primary Schools


teachingrenaissance: University outreach and teaching  the Tudors in primary schools

I love teaching at all levels, but while there is certainly an element of joy and fun that comes with teaching primary school children, for somebody who usually deals with university students, there is undoubtedly also fear and apprehension that comes with that. Let’s face it, comparisons to gladiatorial combat may be quite apt here, with the children having the advantage both of numbers, and of size ( they can move quicker around these knee- high tables and chairs than I can), but also of familiarity. The children operate in their normal sphere , while I am definitely out of my comfort zone. But that is what makes it so exhilarating, and that is what makes me work harder and hopefully makes me better at delivering teaching that is appropriate and exciting.

So, being offered the opportunity to contribute to…

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10,000-year-old house uncovered outside Jerusalem



A remarkable archaeological find in the Judean lowlands southwest of Jerusalem includes a six-millennia-old cultic temple and a 10,000-year-old house.

Topic: Ancient Dwelling

The ancient sites were located in routine archaeological digs conducted ahead of a planned expansion of Route 38, the main access road to Beit Shemesh. The building is the oldest ever found in the area, and constitutes remarkable “evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings,” researchers said Monday.

Labeling it “a fascinating glimpse into thousands of years of human development,” the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the Netivei Israel Company that is carrying out the highway expansion, invited the public to visit the excavation site in Eshtaol on Wednesday, November 27.

“Settlement remains were unearthed at the site, the earliest of which dates to the beginning of the eighth millennium BCE and latest to the end of the fourth millennium BCE,” the authority said in a statement…

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Musings on assessment: assessing essay plans


There is no question that writing, and in particular academic writing to a deadline, is a major source of anxiety for students (at any level!).The reasons as to why so much anxiety focuses around a task that lies at the core of the university experience – at least for arts students- are certainly complex, and worth unpacking. One of the reasons though can often be poor planning of essays, which results in a very complex and time- consuming writing process where the writer simultaneously tries to write well while at the same time still working through the linearity of the argument. So, at one and the same time, a writer may be polishing off a particular section while trying to fit it into the flow of the discussion. It makes the writing process unpredictable, and in the case of students trying to finish several assignments to the same deadline, this…

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Teeny Tiny Medieval Books!


By Jenny Weston

While most of the manuscripts produced in the Middle Ages are roughly the same size as today’s books, some volumes feature outrageous dimensions—either super-large or teeny tiny! Today’s blogpost is devoted to the ‘small-end’ of this spectrum, examining some of the world’s tiniest medieval manuscripts.

During the later Middle Ages, prayerbooks (and in particular ‘Books of Hours’) were often produced with smaller dimensions. These books were often favoured by women, who relied on their collection of prayers, psalms, and painted miniatures for their daily devotion. With smaller dimensions the book would have been lighter and easier to carry, which would have appealed to the devoted lady who wished to have the book on-hand throughout the day. (Such books could easily fit into one’s pocket or be attached to a girdle, see below.)

Here we can see a fourteenth-century example of a miniature prayerbook known as the 

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