Katie Scott and I have been taking Artists' Things out and about with two presentations already this year and another booked in. Our formula for these dual presentations seems to be working quite well - the feedback so far has been great and we've had some dynamic discussions and really useful leads. Each paper begins with one of us giving an introduction with a conceptual frame that sets up the themes that will emerge from the interventions to come - then we each take one object from our collection and present them in dialogue, one after the other.
For the CRASSH '18th Century Things' series in Cambridge, we explored the materiality of artistic practice through two professional tools - Fragonard's colour box and Houdon's modelling stand, and for AAH2012 at the Open University we looked at everyday life in the French Royal Academy through two institutional objects - the secretary's document box and the concierge's register of funeral invitations. The next stop for us is going to be Lyon for the Luxury and Trade Conference this November, where we will be talking about (you guessed it) artists' luxury possessions. Through Boucher's shell collection and Coypel's gold watch, instead of the more conventional image of the artist as a producer of luxury goods, we will explore the artist's role as a consumer.
If you're interested, you can listen to our CRASSH presentation in the 18th Century Things audio archive, where you'll also find lots of other stimulating papers on 18th-century 'stuff'. Abstracts for the papers can be found on the Artists' Things website.