I joined the Enchanted Modernities Network in December 2012 as the project’s Network Facilitator just one month after its foundation, so I’ve been with the project for six months now. I wanted to join the Team following my PhD in History of Art in order continue working actively in academia and the role particularly appealed to me due to my previous experience of administration, communications and logistics, for a ventilation company of all things!
I work part-time for the Network, often in the University of York’s modern and serene Humanities Research Centre building the Berrick Saul, where I have a desk in the research projects area with a calming view of the oak tree around which the building is contoured. I am there this morning, having risen early to walk my Labrador and leave home in time to beat the York rush hour. Today I’m working on the transition of the programme for the Network’s first conference, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the arts in the modern world, 25-27 September 2013, Amsterdam from a Microsoft Word document to an interactive format available through our dedicated conference website (http://www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/amsterdam-theosophy-conference/). I’m also preparing for a meeting with the Network’s leader Sarah Victoria Turner in which we will be finalising details for the website and the registration system, which will enable attendees to register for the conference online. This is something that we have been working on intensely in liaison with the Network Partners and co-conference organisers Marco Pasi (based in Amsterdam) and Chris Scheer (based in Utah, USA) over the last few weeks. The Network has been a hive of activity during the prior to the release of the conference information with many an email flying back and forth and Skype meetings a plenty. The work of a Network Facilitator is centred on ensuring the smooth running of the Network events and exhibitions. I act chiefly as a link between the Network Partners and various other scholars involved with the Network. My job is to keep everyone connected and that is both a challenging and an exciting role as the number of scholars interested in the Network grows days by day.
Although I am not an expert in the area of research pursued by the Network my research into the work of British women artists is concerned with the late nineteenth century so it overlaps with that of the Network. Through my work with the Network, I am discovering intriguing connections between the work of the women I study and Theosophy, spiritualism and mysticism. Just recently, I found that an artist I have been working on, Maria (née Cassavetti) Zambaco was regarded by her contemporaries as a follower of Blavatsky and arranged gatherings that were considered to have Theosophist inclinations. That is just one fascinating example of Theosophy’s relevance to so many areas of study in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.