The Heong Gallery and Gloria are delighted to be hosting an online poetry reading with the educator, writer, and poet, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, on Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 5pm.
Suhaiymah’s work interrogates the political motives behind narratives about Muslims, migrants, gender, and violence, and asks what systemic violence these narratives seek to uphold and justify.
Her brilliant first poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press) was published in 2019. She is an award-winning spoken word artist (runner-up of the Roundhouse National slam 2017), and has written for gal-dem, The Guardian, Independent, and Al-Jazeera, amongst others, and been appeared on national television and radio.
Suhaiymah studied History at Cambridge University, before completing an MA in Postcolonial Studies at SOAS. The event will run for 45 minutes, including a discussion about Suhaiymah’s experience at Cambridge, poetry readings, and an opportunity for audience questions.
The event will take place on ZOOM. It will be livestreamed on the Heong Gallery YouTube channel to provide live transcription.
IN LIGHT OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT CAMBRIDGE IS NOW IN TIER 2, RESTRICTIONS APPLY ON INDOOR MIXING OF DIFFERENT HOUSEHOLDS. YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE GALLERY INDIVIDUALLY OR IN HOUSEHOLD GROUPS, BUT PLEASE DO NOT VISIT WITH ANYONE NOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD.
Downing College is pleased to announce that Dr Susan Lintott, is returning to College as Director of The Heong Gallery. After serving as Senior Bursar for twenty-three years, Susan retired at the end of September 2020. Despite the demands of her former role, Susan recognised the potential for student enrichment, community relations, and alumni development that a bespoke Gallery in College could bring.
The opportunity presented itself when College was embarking on an ambitious building project for new graduate accommodation, for which a substantial public art contribution was required. It was decided to make a positive and long-term commitment to art in Cambridge by converting an Edwardian stable block into an airy and chapel-like modern art space by architects Caruso St John, a backdrop for fourteen major exhibitions and numerous arts events.
Susan returns to the Gallery she has nurtured from its earliest stages to assist with strategic planning for its future. She says, “With the help of our alumni and our Curator, Dr Prerona Prasad, the Heong has taken its place among the museums and galleries of Cambridge, where everyone is welcome. But it’s as if the Gallery has always been here – a place for students to explore connections to their academic studies, to escape, and to work. Through the Gallery, the College engages our alumni and supporters in our shared endeavour. The release from the duties of a bursar leaves time to enjoy the art on the walls of the Gallery and to help in the logistical and creative tasks of getting it there.”
In response to the current exhibition ‘Quentin Blake: Forty Women for Downing’ which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of women’s admission to Downing College, Gloria is holding a panel on pathways to creativity at Cambridge, inviting back alumni to reflect on their own creative careers, and the role of art within the university. The event will be held as a free Zoom webinar with an additional YouTube livestream.
About the panel participants
Hannah Machover is a recent graduate from Camberwell, with an MA in Printmaking. Her practice explores inherited memory, displayed through poetic storytelling; collections of moments (remembered and re-imagined) are caught in connected series’ of drawings, etchings and writings. She studied English Literature at Downing College, founding Gloria at The Heong Gallery in her second year of study. Gloria came into being with the intention to encourage creative engagement with exhibitions through a variety of different events. Hannah works for Marina Warner on the project Stories in Transit, helping to organise story-making workshops both in Sicily and the UK.
Elinor Hayes is Communications and Programme at Shape Arts, a disability-led arts organisation working to remove barriers to creative excellence. Elinor also works on the communications team at Unlimited, the world’s largest commissioning programme for disabled artists, co-lead by Shape Arts and ArtsAdmin. She is committed to the principles of accessibility, intersectionality, and equity as cornerstones of a viable cultural landscape. Elinor has previously worked in commercial and public arts environments, including Wellcome Collection, Museum of London, Bold Tendencies, and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
How to watch and join the conversation
Watch live on ZOOM or on YouTube live for automatic transcription Meeting ID: 898 3422 8613 Passcode: 354378
Declan Hickey, a recent graduate in Music from Downing College, is no stranger to The Heong Gallery. From his very first term as an undergraduate, he has performed in the Gallery for visitors to our exhibitions. This time, he returned to the Gallery to record a solo guitar recital for our Arts After Dark programme. We might not be able to welcome you to the Gallery at the moment, but our student-led programme will continue online. Follow our blog and social media to find out more.
Fernando Sor – Fantasy and Variations, Op. 30 J S Bach – Lute Suite in C minor, BWV 997 (II. Fugue) M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco – Sonata ‘Omaggio a Boccherini’, op. 77 (III. Tempo di Minuetto) L. Berkeley – Sonatina Op. 51 (I. Allegretto)
It has been a pleasure to welcome you back to the Gallery in October. We have shared your joy in the masterful and animated drawings of Sir Quentin Blake. The exhibition will continue until 7 February 2021 but, for now, we have to close our doors.
In line with UK government guidance to combat COVID-19, the Gallery will be closed from 5 November until 1 December, 2020. This is not so much a ‘goodbye’ as a ‘see you online’. Do follow us on social media and check into the Gallery blog for the latest online events and activities.
Calling visionary art teachers! Want a break from the classroom? We can give your students a chance to visit the exhibition and explore its themes through virtual presentations and tours. Just let us know how we can help.
On 7 October 1980, the first female undergraduates Matriculated at Downing College.
To mark the the occasion, we spoke to Joanna Lorenz (English, 1980) about her experiences as part of that pioneering group of 23 young women.
As told to Prerona Prasad.
What did you know about Downing before you applied.
I had no idea. I didn’t know anything about the collegiate system, let alone Downing, I’m not even sure I’d seen a picture (no internet or google..). I picked Downing because my Sixth Form Director, Mr Acland, had been there; as I wanted to do English, he said F.R. Leavis had been at Downing and so it was a good place to choose. I was the first from the school to go to Cambridge; there had been a boy at Oxford the year before.
I visited for the first time when I came for interview. We stayed overnight and meeting the other candidates was a little intimidating. I discovered that it was going to be the first year of women when one of the girls who had just been interviewed said she had been asked what she thought about the prospect, but didn’t realise it would not be 50/50 until I arrived and wondered where all the others were.
I went to a normal comprehensive school, outside Bristol. It was a good school; I wasn’t specially aware that some schools were single sex or private until coming to university, and a few things people said didn’t make sense for ages (what was a gap year?). Some aspects of College life were probably more familiar to students who had been to public school (formal hall, tutorials, gowns), but were fun. There was a lot to discover as well as all the other usual changes to deal with in leaving home, finding your feet, and working out how the university functioned. So, it was already strange in some ways, over and above the oddness felt in being one of a few women.
What did you think about the fact that you were among the first women to ever be admitted to Downing College?
I was surprised that anywhere would take so long to do so, or why anyone would object to women in College. The question seemed so dated; to revisit those arguments seemed medieval… But day-to-day, were there prejudices? I didn’t think so. Perhaps you don’t realise until you look back if doors were closed or set only just ajar, but I don’t believe this was gender based if so. There was objection that some clubs didn’t take in women (who’d want to join the Pitt Club anyway), and there was a boys’ club mentality around the place at times, but definitely not an unfriendly one. The JCR was a grotty beer basement, but that’s true of a lot of uni bars. We were told by some in the older years that the Addenbrookes students weren’t keen on the change… (we made friends with lots of the nurses, by the way).
No doubt there was some acceptance of behaviours that wouldn’t be now, but that’s general social history, not specific to College. I didn’t feel we were unwelcome – quite the opposite – but we were seen as ‘other’ for a while.
If there were frustrations, it was more about the relationship between the College and the University, as it would have been good to have more interaction and involvement, and it was left to us to work out what was possible, but this was particular to my subject and our year, and isn’t anything to do with gender.
Did College seem prepared for your arrival?
We did sense an air of underlying panic at first, that a few members of the administration were dealing with an alien species. We weren’t put on the ground floor for fear of intruders through the windows, but we took over the second floor in L Staircase. There was a group in another staircase, and in Kenny. One legacy we are proud of is introducing soft toilet paper to the College (as well as improved exam results). Before, they had those card boxes of greaseproof papery squares. After a few weeks, a group went to the Dean and explained it was not very nice. The conversation was swiftly halted and soft appeared for everyone.
Did you have the same opportunities as the men?
In the College? Probably, though what was there suited some more than others; there were a lot of sports clubs. Some women took up rowing and started a boat. I remember being persuaded to try coxing, being small, but soon realised it involved early mornings and cold water, so that didn’t last. It wasn’t a very arty college – a friend (male) set up a film club because there wasn’t one. But being a small contingent probably did give a sense of being a bit special, deserved or not.
Did you make friends among the women in your year?
I’m still in touch with a handful of girlfriends, from the year below too. My group of best friends was mixed (boys/girls). Maybe for our year, it felt a normal integrated experience. I hope the change to the College didn’t feel exclusionary for the years above. To really understand the impact of the sudden change, perhaps you should be talking to them.
Did your time at Downing inform your later career?
My first post-university job was also in Cambridge actually, for a small publishing company. I edited cookbooks (by Jane Grigson and Josceline Dimbleby, among others), and a couple of economic management textbooks, bizarrely, so I did keep on cycling through the quad and past The Fitzwilliam Museum for another couple of years, which was nice. Publishing was a good fit. We have been running our own publishing company for nearly thirty years now. It was a sought-after field to be working in. Now it can feel as if it’s viewed as a charming but antique industry… As a student, you did your best to find out what was out there and applied to every kind of media outlet, but there weren’t many set routes, or if there was a network I wasn’t accessing it. I do remember being told we shouldn’t expect to get into publishing because we liked books, but all four (?) women doing English in our year ended up doing just that.
How do you look back upon your time at University?
Overall it was a wonderful, formative time. I wasn’t cynical about it at all, I loved bonding with a group of friends, being challenged and motivated intellectually, and being in such a beautiful environment; every term felt too short. Even if I would try to do some things differently now, I did not feel this way at the time.
Any advice for women at Downing today?
I am sure they are much savvier than I was, and wouldn’t need it. Don’t hold back or wait to be asked, throw yourself into it all, stay in touch with the friends you’ll make.
Joanna Lorenz is publisher of Lorenz Books and Anness Publishing Ltd.
My role as Curatorial Associate in the Department of Applied Arts at The Fitzwilliam Museum involves managing, researching, displaying, and interpreting a huge variety of applied arts objects but I am primarily responsible for pieces made in Europe from 1800 to the present day. Contemporary art is only part of what I do, but I feel consistently excited and engaged by it, whether that’s acquiring contemporary works of art from artists and dealers or working collaboratively with artists to create temporary exhibitions and displays, or events. Moving forwards, the Museum is keen to engage more meaningfully with contemporary art, made by artists from around the world, in order to enable us to explore more diverse perspectives within our permanent collection and temporary displays. You can read more about some of our recent acquisitions here.
How did you come to work in Contemporary Art?
I came to curatorial work through an unusual route (a degree in English and a Master’s degree in curation of fashion and historic dress). Working specifically in contemporary art has been a natural extension of working with modern applied arts, made by living artists. I’ve also had the benefit of being mentored by experts in contemporary British Crafts, Nicholas and Judith Goodison, whose ongoing and growing gift to the Museum forms the backbone of our collection of modern applied arts. Attending fairs and visiting studios with them has been a brilliant way of learning about artists’ practice.
My interest in contemporary art has also grown in tandem with thinking about how best to expand the range of voices, narratives, and viewpoints that we present in museums, and how visitors feel as they move through the space and encounter different types of art.
What has been the highlight of your work in Cambridge?
The highlight so far has been the exhibition I curated with artist, Matt Smith, Flux: Parian Unpacked (2018). Using the Museum’s extensive collection of nineteenth-century parian busts, Smith employed a series of visually-stunning installations to explore themes of mass production, celebrity, colonialism, and our notion of history, asking tough and thought-provoking questions such as – Who writes history? Whose histories define Britishness, and how does this change over time? Why do museums celebrate the lives of some people and ignore others? The accompanying catalogue included essays that explicitly discussed statues of historical figures. It was a challenging exhibition, and uncomfortable in places for both staff and visitors, but in hindsight it was incredibly prescient and I remain enormously proud of it, and the provocations it raised.
What do you set out to achieve in your work?
In my experience, working with artists in a museum setting can break down what has been described as ‘the curatorial monopoly’ of the experience. Artists can help democratise the institution by increasing the range of voices and perspectives available, but only when they are given the freedom and resources to do it! So that is what I set out to achieve. I enjoy the disruption that artists bring and ironically, although institutions are often resistant to it, it is often the disruptive work, created by or with the artist, that helps museums achieve their own strategic goals and targets – namely, becoming more inclusive, relevant, and engaging; and reaching wider audiences.
Working with artists has also encouraged me to be more reflective, to ask more questions; to think about whose voices can be heard, and whose can’t. Are we presuming too much pre-existing knowledge? Are we over-simplifying? Are we accepting a status quo? Are we presenting material in a nuanced way?
Has lockdown had an impact on your work?
Lockdown has had a huge impact on the Fitzwilliam but we are working hard to reopen in August, albeit it in a very controlled and socially-distanced way, and to reschedule the incredibly exciting events and exhibitions that had been planned for Summer 2020. In the meantime, our brilliant Digital team have ensured that staff have remote access to most of the systems we need, so work has been able to continue, remotely, and we have created new online digital resources for visitors, so that they can continue to access and interact with the collection 24/7.
What are you working on now?
I’m afraid I can’t say exactly what I’m working on at the moment as we haven’t yet announced some of our forthcoming plans, but there will definitely be more acquisitions from contemporary artists and exhibitions curated with them in the very near future. Watch this space!
Outside of the Fitzwilliam, I have been fortunate to work recently with one of the leading exhibitors of crafts in the UK and help them decide who they will show at Collect (the international art fair for modern craft and design) in 2021, which was a brilliant way of seeing what contemporary crafts practitioners have been working on during lockdown.
Ideas for the future?
As well as plans already ‘in the pipeline’, the Museum is keen to explore further how commissioning artists might work and how that might play a role in our Collections Policy in the future. There will also be quite a lot of exciting re-displays of the core collection too, some with elements of co-curation, so lots to see at the Museum soon!