University of Nottingham

Art and Travel (workshops)

Project outline

These workshops focused attention on art and travel and their related histories, an under-researched field of art history and visual culture. A series of six workshops directed the vast subject of art and travel towards the discussion of the related issues of empire, identity, narrative, landscape and the archive, as well as considering the potential for practice-led research in this field. The workshops were also designed to investigate the viability and need for a centre for the study of art and travel at the National Maritime Museum (NMM).

Aboriginal Canoes Communicating with Monarch and the Tom Tough by John Thomas Baines, 1868 (NMM). Aboriginal Canoes Communicating with Monarch and the Tom Tough


The workshop series highlighted the importance of travel as an activity and concept to a broad range of fine art practice, complementing both the growth within art history of the study of art and empire, and the growing social and cultural importance that travel holds in the contemporary world. Additionally, meetings of the specially appointed steering committee directed the results of the workshops towards the establishment and maintenance of the Centre for the Study of Art and Travel (CART) at the NMM, where supporting collections are held. The Centre was formally inaugurated in July 2007.

The identification of 'art and travel' as a research area enabled productive communication between and across traditional disciplines and the adoption of a wide range of theoretical groundings and methodological approaches, alongside the identification of new collections of material for study. It was also recognised that there is considerable potential to involve researchers from non-academic backgrounds in 'art and travel' – fine artists and those working in the creative industries as well as in galleries and museums.

Ongoing influence

The core activities of CART include the continuing support and provision of an annual programme of international workshops/seminars on art and travel, the provision of support for doctoral studentships to promote further research of collections and subjects pertaining to art and travel, the provision of research fellowships to include practice-led research, and the dissemination of research through publication and other channels.

Other activities will include conferences, exhibitions, digitization projects and one-off practice-based projects. CART's annual workshop/lecture series, began with the theme of 'New perspectives on Art and Travel in the Mediterranean, 1600-1900' in 2009-10.

The Centre also has two AHRC collaborative doctoral students, Charlotte Mullins and Geoff Snell, who are taking forward research into the National Maritime Museum's rich art and travel collections in collaboration with the Department of Art History at the University of Sussex. Charlotte is working on 'The World on a Plate: the Impact of Photography on Travel Imagery and its Dissemination in Britain, 1839–88'; and Geoff is working on 'The Visual Imagery of the Thames c.1680–1850'.

The summer of 2009 marked the beginning a new project by the curatorial team to digitize and publish online a unique series of sketchbooks made by serving Royal Navy officers during the 18th and 19th centuries. With the help of new research detailing the people and places depicted, the project is enabling the Museum's worldwide audience to virtually 'leaf through' the sketchbooks, page by page, following the artists as they travelled the globe.

Jenny Gaschke, Curator of Fine Art at the NMM worked on the book, Edward Lear: Egyptian Sketches, which was published in 2009. The book is aimed equally at a popular and academic audience, exploring Victorian travel in Egypt through Lear's watercolours and extracts from his diary.




  1. Investigating the Archive
  2. Travel Identities
  3. Narrative
  4. Science
  5. Imaginative Geographies
  6. Empire

Award details

Duration: Launched July 2006 (12 months)

Principal Investigator:
Dr Geoff Quilley, University of Sussex

Higher Education Institution:
National Maritime Museum

Related links


Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071