History of Art at University of York – 4th place in the national rankings

I just wanted to say a massive well done to the History of Art Department at University of York for being ranked in 4th place in The Sunday Times University Guide 2015!  It’s a great success and I couldn’t agree more with the outcome. I have written many times throughout my blog, History of Art at York is amazing. All those working within the department should be extremely proud with themselves – I know for certain that all I could write in the National Student Survey regarding my time here were positive things. I hope everyone who still studies at York, or will soon be joining, will experience the outstanding work within the department. Well done!


J’ai fini!


Wow, I cannot quite believe that I am writing this post. It’s official. Yesterday I graduated from York with a First! I am over the moon! It was such a lovely ceremony, and it was great to see everyone before and after. Despite my gown taking every opportunity to try and wriggle its way off me, I managed to survive the graduate fashion. After the graduation ceremony, the History of Art department hosted a lovely get together with some yummy pastries and drinks! From there, me and my family ventured onto the Minster to take some photos by York’s iconic building.

I don’t like the thought of calling myself a graduate now… I am still a student at heart! So now I have a month before I move to Paris for the year, and from there, I plan to begin studying for a Masters in History of Art so do expect more to come from my blog!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful day yesterday – everyone looked so lovely, and it was sad not too see those who could not make the ceremony, you were missed! But alas, we did it!


Photograph by Ben Selby
History of Art Graduates 2011-2014! (Photograph by Ben Selby)

Mondrian and his studios: Tate Liverpool


This summer blockbuster at the Tate Liverpool is co-curated by our very own  departmental tutor and lecturer, Michael White. Having opened on 6th June until 5th October 2014, ‘Mondrian and his studios’ explores not only the significance of Piet Mondrian’s work in the development of abstract art, but also the relationship between his paintings and the space around them.

The exhibition demonstrates the contrast between the artworks Mondrian created in Amsterdam, Paris and New York, as we see the development in his ideas and the impact of his different surroundings.  A life size reconstruction of Mondrian’s Paris studio allows visitors a chance to absorb themselves in Mondrian’s world.  Together with a companion exhibition, Mondrian and Colour which runs at Turner Contemporary until September 21st, the exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of Mondrian’s death.

This exhibition is definitely worth a visit! Go Michael and the rest of the team!

Careers in Art History: Inspiration & Possibilities

This Friday (Week 9, 20th June 2014), the History of Art department has organised a careers-orientated event which sees department alumni returning to speak to current students about their careers. These alumni will  offer insights into, and advice on entering, the working world. The event is a unique opportunity to hear about the career paths, personal experiences and strategic career choices of people who have studied art history.


It takes place from 1pm in the Bowland Lecture Theatre (Berrick Saul Building) on campus. Events like these are really invaluable to attend, especially as we’re all coming either to the end of our degree or thinking about the future. One of the things that I have learnt throughout the years is that sometimes it’s who you know which is so important – so go and learn something, and do some networking!


To sign up for the event go to this website: http://doodle.com/mzswt3wa57ddnvui.   If you have any questions etc, get in contact with Dr Chad Elias! (chad.elias@york.ac.uk)

Surviving 48 hour open book exams


48 hour open exams sound tough, and I’m not going to lie, they are incredibly daunting as there is so much time pressure on you to attempt to write two well written essays. However, I think that there are many different things that you can before and during to help ease the pressure and anxiety of the exam process. The following blog post presents many different tips and advice that I have learnt throughout my own experience of completing a 48 hour open exam. If you can think of anything that I have missed, or if you have any tips that you believe should be on here comment below!

During term:

  • Note-taking: Try and take the best notes that you can during your seminars/lectures and meetings with your tutors- with history of art, tutors don’t give us the seminar notes like other subjects do, so it’s your responsibility to write everything down – even if you don’t think it’s relevant at the time, it might just be in the future. Try also to make notes and connections to any of the images used within the seminar presentation, as this makes life a lot easier when you come back to re-read your notes.
  • Reading for your seminars: I complete all my notes for my reading on the computer now – this means it’s quicker to find relevant quotes, and it’s easier to read. Also, scan any chapters or key pages of various books that you think will be handy, this will mean that you don’t have to go back and forth to the library during the exam.
  • Organisation: Try and be organised – whether this is creating relevant and tidy documents on your computer or with a physical folder that you take to class. Being organised will save you a lot of time, so try and start that now rather than having to waste so much time later attempting to organise your work. Trust me, you’ll be thankful later on!
  • Tutors: Talk to them! If you’re confused about something in class, or you want any other extra advice on particular things/ how to get better marks etc. They’ll be sure to help you and put you in the right direction! Ultimately, these are the people that will be marking your exams, so pay attention to how they want you to write (every tutor has a particular writing style). Also pay attention to any particular texts or scholars that they keep repeating, as these may be extremely helpful within your exams.


  • Seminar notes: Type up notes onto the computer – I find that this was really helpful during the exam, as it meant all I had to do was search for the word I am looking for, and this brought the file up. It saves time rather than looking through masses of sheets in your various folders.
  • Bring information together: Don’t just type your notes up, but merge the notes with the images from the powerpoint of that lecture, or add any other images that you think will be helpful. As well as adding images, add any other notes from the powerpoint presentations that you did not get time to write down in the seminar. Also, add any key quotes or make notes of any relevant texts that may apply to certain things/themes in your notes.
  • Key quotes: Compile a list of any key quotes regarding particular themes, artworks etc onto a document. This will come in great help when you need to back up your argument with a scholar! Remember, to make your life easier in the exam, footnote the quote. (SURNAME, YEAR OF PUBLICATION: PAGE) – this saves so much time! I cannot stress this point.
  • Key dates and information: To save time during the exam, make A4 pages of any key dates and information that may come in handy. Whether this is the date of a painting, or the dates of when a particular king reigned; having these dates and information on hand will definitely come in handy. I did this and it saved so much time.
  • Photographs/images and illustrations: I collected all the relevant images that I may need onto one document, and labeled them all properly. If you’re unsure how to label your images for your essay, go straight to your essay writing guidelines book – this will be your new best friend during exams. Images take loads of time to properly reference, so by preparing this in advance will help ease the stress during the 48 hours.
  • Essay plans: Before my exam I created a variety of detailed essay plans, which included bullet points of what I wanted to write about; quotations and the places where I got these quotes from, and relevant images (all labeled and referenced properly). You will probably be able to find some past essay questions from your module if it has been previously taught, so just go through these and try and answer them the best you can. Don’t make too detailed a plan, because you’ll probably end up not using it all and it will probably take a lot of time to re-read these in depth during the exam.
  • Reading: Finish any reading that you think might be helpful, or any key texts that you only managed to skim through. Don’t forget to type your notes up too!

During the exam:

  • When you first open the paper: Take your time, read through the questions. I went through each question and decided which are the ones I could best answer, and provided bullet points of the potential things I could write for them. You must take your time at this point, and choose a question that you think you’ll really enjoy to write, and have enough to write about! I’m so glad I took this time after reading the exam questions, as I know this beginning part of any exam can be so stressful. I felt a lump at my throat when I opened the exam paper – I was so nervous! So by devoting an hour to deciding what question I wanted to do, and making brief plans, this helped at lot. It also proves that there are actually a lot you can potentially talk about, so if you open paper and think ‘oh my goodness, I cannot answer anything!’, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you actually can do if you take a deep breath and go through each question. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
  • An essay a day: For my exam, I devoted a day to each essay. I aimed to get each essay done by 6pm and then went through them that night. By devoting a day to each essay, you’re making fully complete essays instead of drifting from one to another. But others may prefer to do that – ultimately it comes down to how you prefer to work.
  • Be concise: Try and be as succinct as you with your writing – know when to stop! I always write way too much for my essays; infact, for my 1500 word ones I ended up writing near 3000 words, so had to devote a lot of time to getting rid of words – time that I could have spent getting the sleep I needed! So, by trying to keep to the word count this prevents you wasting any time trying to chop out words that needn’t be there in the first place.
  • Alone: I personally like to be alone when writing an essay, especially under these circumstances. By removing yourself from your peers it means that there are no risks of your anxiety being high – if you do speak to people on your course, do not take too much notice about what they are writing. At the end of the day, their essays will be different to yours and theirs makes no difference on you. Just write your own essay, and don’t worry about what anyone else writes. Focus on yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box: Thinking out of the box shows that you’re thinking about the question from a different point of view. The examiner is very likely to get the same information over and over again, so by providing a new angle which is argued well will make you stand out for all the good reasons!
  • Relax: Try and relax during this exam. It’s only 48 hours, and will be over quicker than you think. The good thing I guess is that everyone in your class will be completing it in this time, so you’re not alone! Just keep focused, and write as well as you can during this time.
  • Snacks: Have some snacks with you, or some fruit to keep your energy levels high during the exam.
  • You: Make sure you remember that you are a human and not a machine! Have  food and regular breaks – go outside for fresh air, I found this really helpful as it lets you reflect on your thoughts etc.

After the exam, make sure you relax; whether that is watching a movie, going out for some drinks, whatever it is, reward yourself! 48 hour exams are tough and extremely mentally and physically demanding (well for me anyway), so well done for getting through it! I really hope you find these tips helpful, and if you want any more advice or guidance just drop me a line!

The Norman Rae Gallery: ‘Afterlife’

Emily Garthwaite Poster

The Norman Rea Gallery in Derwent College is currently hosting a series of photographs by Emily Garthwaite. Portraying various scenes such as portraits and landscape photographs, this series captures a poignant and personal journey around India. In September 2013, Garthwaite embarked on a ‘pilgrimage’ around India to follow her family history. Garthwaite travels with her camera and her grandmother’s ashes in order to visually capture the spiritual and personal journey through India to choose the perfect spot to scatter these ashes. Garthwaite invites us on this poignant journey through her identity and heritage.

The exhibition runs from February 24th to March 7th. I haven’t seen the exhibition yet, but plan on going next week and hopefully will aim to write a brief review of it. This is the last exhibition of the term, so don’t miss out!

If you want to learn a bit more about the exhibition check out the Norman Rea Gallery website: http://www.thenormanreagallery.co.uk/laura-elias.html