Ancient plaster: casting light on a forgotten sculptural material

Tue 30 - Wed 31 Mar 2021

Live subtitling
Online event

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The British Academy on Zoom Webinar

Event ended

Ancient Plaster: Casting light on a forgotten sculptural material (Day One)
Ancient Plaster: Casting light on a forgotten sculptural material (Day Two)

British Academy Conferences bring together scholars and specialists from around the world to consider and evaluate new research in the humanities and social sciences.

Marble, bronze, and terracotta are all celebrated materials for sculpture in the round. However, plaster, another noteworthy material in antiquity, is understudied and often absent from the archaeological record. Two major questions regarding the role of plaster in ancient sculpture remain unresolved. This conference, bringing together international experts including archaeologists, conservators, and contemporary sculptors, aims to tackle these debates. Firstly, we will explore plaster as a sculptural material in its own right and address the use of plaster models for the production of works in other media. Secondly, we will tackle the contested issue of life-casting in antiquity, assessing whether such casting was indeed used in the production of bronzes. Pre-recorded demonstrations of plaster working and casting processes will give participants a practical understanding of material and technique. This interdisciplinary practice based focus will facilitate collaboration between archaeologists and contemporary practitioners, enabling cooperative analysis of these important and unresolved research problems.

Conference convenors:
Emma Payne
, King's College London
Abbey Ellis
, University of Leicester/Ashmolean Museum
Will Wootton, King's College London

Speakers across the two-day conference include:
Amanda Claridge, Royal Holloway, University of London
Chris Dorsett, Northumbria University
Martin Hanson, Wimbledon College of Art
Nigel Konstam, Verrocchio Arts Centre, Italy
Dimitri Laboury, University of Liège, Belgium
Kenneth Lapatin, J. Paul Getty Museum, USA
Alexander Lumsden, Bronze Age London
Kelsey Madden, University of Sheffield
Rachel Mairs, University of Reading
Eckart Marchand, The Warburg Institute/International Research Group ‘Bilderfahrzeuge’
Thomas Merrett, City & Guilds of London Art School
Thomas Schelper, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Gipsformerei, Germany
Veronika Tocha, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Gipsformerei, Germany
Kathryn Tubb, University College London
Clare Venables, Ornamental Sculptor

This event will have live subtitles provided by StageTEXT, delivered by MyClearText

Free, booking required

This two-day conference will take place on Zoom Webinar. The link to join each day of the event will be sent to you in separate confirmation emails when you book. If you have any questions about this conference please refer to our Public Events FAQs. If your question is not answered, please email [email protected].


Book day 1

The first day of this two-day conference will take place on Tuesday 30 March (13:45-18:00), with speakers discussing ancient plaster objects, the material of plaster and making sculpture.

The second day of this two-day conference will take place on Wednesday 31 March (13:30-17:30), with speakers discussing casts for display, life-casting and looking to the future of plaster.

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