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Lunchtime Talk - A Living Force - Karen Mailley-Watt, Susannah Waters, Hanneline Visnes

Fri 28 May 2021

Dorothy Carleton Smyth

This event offers an opportunity to hear more about Dorothy Carleton Smyth (1880-1933), her work held by GSA Archives & Collections and artist Hanneline Visnes’ response to Smyth’s works in her commission Force, currently showing at CCA in the exhibition ambi.

In the GSA Archives and Collections, there is an example of the high opinion with which Smyth was regarded by Director Francis Newbery, in correspondence to Professor Wayland Bartlett from America:

“Miss Smyth is a living force contained in a human body, whose brains and whose hands are of the finest description and which answer to each other as touch does to sensation. She is the life and light of anything we may do here as regards the art of the drama. Her instincts are unerring, her taste pure and refined and her feelings shrink from every form of ill considered art.” (January 12th, 1917)

The GSA Archives & Collections holds several costume designs by Smyth for Shakespeare's Macbeth and Wilde's Salome. Smyth studied and taught at the School, and in 1927 became Principal of Commercial Art. In 1933 she was offered, and accepted, the post of Director, but tragically died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 52, before the appointment was made public. Visnes has responded to the costumes and characters created by Smyth in a series of new gouache drawings.

ambi runs at CCA Glasgow until 29 May 2021. The Glasgow School of Art in partnership with CCA have specially commissioned four UK-based artists and designers Rabiya Choudhry, Fiona Jardine, Raisa Kabir and Hanneline Visnes and to take artefacts from or respond to textiles archives including GSA Archives & Collections in order to track histories and present a new story or work from it. The new work is shown alongside the artefacts.

Karen Mailley-Watt has an MA Joint (Hons) and an MLitt in Decorative Arts & Design History from the University of Glasgow. She is currently a Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities ARCS funded PhD Researcher at the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Art. Karen successfully passed her PhD viva in October 2020. Her thesis The Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (1882-1942): A Feminist Sanctum of Visibility, Opportunity and Community? provides a comprehensive overview of the members of the society and women related to the club house. She is currently the Gallery Coordinator for the Royal Glasgow Institute for the Fine Arts and is the Journal Editor for The Scottish Society for Art History.

Susannah Waters is the Archives and Collections Manager at The Glasgow School of Art. She studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow before completing a Masters in Archives and Records Management at the University of Liverpool. She is a registered member of the Archives and Records Association and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Susannah’s research interests include the history of fine art and design pedagogy, the role of historical resources in higher education, and the use of archives by creative practitioners. She has worked on a number of exhibitions, seminars and workshops relating to Glasgow School of Art’s historical collections and has written articles for The Journal of the Scottish Records Association, The Journal of the Society of Archivists and the Art Libraries Journal.

Hanneline Visnes was born in Bergen and lives in Glasgow. Visnes is a lecturer in Painting and Printmaking at GSA. She has exhibited widely in the UK and Europe. Recent shows include ‘Heavy Weather’ (2019), with Carol Rhodes and Lucy Skaer; ‘The Green Man’ (2018), with Lucy Skaer, Talbot Rice Gallery; ‘Notes From The VIP Lounge’ (2017/18), Linlithgow Borough hall Linlithgow; ‘Ornament In Context’ (2016), with Barbara Eitel, ArteGiani Frankfurt; ‘INK:Public Archive- five decades of Printmaking at The Glasgow Print Studio’ (2017), curated by Ainsley, Harding and Moffat; and ‘Samlede Verker’ (2017), Kunstgarasjen, Bergen. There is in Visnes' work a long term preoccupation with the decorative, which has its roots in the craft traditions of her native Norway. The paintings are informed by research into opulent and valuable furnishings, carpets, jewellery, porcelain and more recently fashion and haute couture. Through attention to detail and a painstaking process of applying small amounts of paint with thin brushes Visnes makes paintings that are tense and mesmerising.

The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are an outstanding resource for the study of art, design, architecture and art education. They comprise a wide range of material from GSA’s institutional archive, to artworks and architectural drawings, textile pieces, plaster casts, photographs and furniture. Holdings include a large number of items by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, giving the Archives and Collections one of the largest Mackintosh collections held in public ownership. They also hold a number of deposited collections from former staff and students which often contain preparatory work such as sketchbooks, drawings and samples as well as finished artworks, notebooks and diaries. Taken together, the collections provide an excellent record of the activities of The Glasgow School of Art since it was established in 1845. The Archives and Collections are currently located at The Whisky Bond on Dawson Road, a 20-minute walk from GSA’s main campus. The Archives and Collections are currently closed to visitors due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. However, information about their holdings can be viewed online at




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