“Heard it on the Golovine…”

…so the joke went. In Summer this year, the idea was floated to launch an official blog for the Department of the History of Art at UoB. The department reckoned it would be a good idea if the blog was created, managed and edited by postgraduate students, who can share their experiences of what it’s like to study in the department and our day-to-day trials and triumphs as fledgling academic art historians/general art-buffs. In short: what do PG researchers really spend all their time doing and what are some of the more interesting things we get up to when we’re not in the library, some archive, or–“shhhh”–this or that gallery, show or exhibition. We also wanted Undergrads to have a voice, and tell readers about their experiences as budding art historians, besides some of the exciting adventures that many of them embark on after their degrees. Along with myself, the project attracted several volunteers.

So far, so good!

Or so we thought. Because, what should we call such a blog?? And here problems ensued. The obvious choice was “The History of Art, UoB Blog”, or something like that. This, though, we thought  was a little dry. “Hello Art History”, perhaps? Which translates into what we thought was a rather nifty acronym: “HAH!” We had numerous other suggestions, and variants on suggestions, some more eccentric than others, some already taken and some simply boring. Deciding proved onerous. The issue was then somewhat complicated when it was announced that the department was heading in new, and exciting directions. With the merger of the department of Art History with Film and Visual Studies, and its renaming as The Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies, the scope of our blog became much wider and its name needed to be more inclusive but still catchy… alas, Summer came and went, and still no blog.

With research pressures mounting and teaching to do, the blog ended up on the back burner. Until myself, Liz (academic editor) and a couple of other PGs and UGs were sat in the marquee on the UG open day near the start of the Autumn term 2012. Towards the end of the day when the visiting 6th formers were flagging, we brainstormed ideas for the blog’s name. Maybe, we thought, we should take inspiration from the Barber Institute; the internationally-renowned small art gallery on campus where the department is based. And one of the most famous, and intriguing, pictures in the Barber’s collection is Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s Portrait of Countess Golovine.

Courtesy of the Barber Institute

So “Heard it on the Golovine” was proposed. A little play on words and tongue-in-cheek, we all agreed that this was quite amusing. But gradually, this was shortened to simply “The Golovine”. Marked by candour, charm and intrigue, and a definite hint of cheekiness, Countess Golovine’s portrait seemed to fit the tone we envisaged for the blog. Spontaneous? Maybe. But the old Countess has been around for over two centuries, so we figured She’s a keeper!

So here we are, finally publishing our inaugural post. Future posts are set to include: exhibition reviews by our students and staff, some of which they may have been involved with the curating of; news about our Alumni; posts about interesting trips made by students in the department; information about conferences we attend or speak at; news about research fellowships, publications and so on…. Besides generally-interesting bits of general arty news. So be sure to check back regularly!  [JE]

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