Grinling Gibbons: Crafting a place in history
Hannah Phillip, Programme Director for the Grinling Gibbons National Tercentenary 2021, will kick off our Spring series of Tuesday Talks, which will use Gibbon’s work as a focal point for exploring craft and conservation from a range of perspectives.
Grinling Gibbons, legendary artist, sculptor, craftsman, and the greatest carver in British history died on 3 August 1721. Over the past 300 years, he has inspired craftsmanship and carving from his contemporaries to modern-day makers.
Gibbons is a potent symbol of inspiration and achievement. He carved with an unsurpassed realism that could literally fool the eye. His name is synonymous with ‘the best’. John Evelyn celebrated Gibbons as ‘stupendous and beyond all description… the incomparable carving of our Gibbons, who is without controversy the greatest master both for innovation and rareness of work that the world ever had in any age’.
In the 300th year of Gibbons’ death, a national festival will celebrate his life, inspiration and legacy. Hannah Phillip explores how this is an important opportunity to get to grips with the man, the mythology and how he still connects with Britain today.
She will give an introduction to what took Gibbons from being an obscure carver from Rotterdam to the most illustrious Carver to the King. She will also explore how Grinling Gibbons 300 is bringing together collections across the UK, and providing a focal point for conservation, collaborative projects, research and making.
Following Hannah’s talk, Dr Helen Rawson will provide an overview of Gibbon’s monuments in York Minster, and the exhibition and events that the Minster will be running, as part of Grinling Gibbons 300.
Hannah and Helen’s talks will be followed by a Q&A session chaired by Martin Stancliffe.
About the Speakers
Hannah Phillip is the Programme Director for the Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary and Society, master-planning a festival, exhibition, education and events programme across 2021-22. Hannah is a consultant in the field of heritage development, programming and fundraising and has worked in museums for over 20 years. She started her career in Australia with the National Trust of SA where she was responsible for their flagship property, Ayers House, a colonial mansion in the heart of Adelaide. More recently she was Director of Fairfax House, and over ten years raised the museum’s profile by curating a series of major exhibitions involving national loans. In 2017 she was responsible for fundraising and securing the King David Panel by Grinling Gibbons – his first-known work. As part of Grinling Gibbons 300 she is currently planning a major exhibition involving loans of objects from the UK and beyond.
Dr Helen Rawson took up post as Head of Heritage at York Minster in March 2020. She has spent much of her career in the Scottish museums sector, including 19 years in the museums service of the University of St Andrews, as Co-Director, and earlier as curator and senior curator, where she had a lead role in establishing MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews. Helen has also worked as a museum consultant, in research development, and at National Museums Scotland. She is an Associate of the Museums Association and a member of the Recognition Committee, Museums Galleries Scotland. Helen’s research interests, including her PhD, focus on the history and development of museum collections.