Angela Hesson

Dr Angela Hesson obtained her PhD in Art History and Literature from The University of Melbourne in 2012. Prior to her appointment at CHE, she was employed as a lecturer in Art History and Literature at The University of Melbourne, and at La Trobe University. From 2010-2013, she worked as a curator at The Johnston Collection, a Melbourne house museum specialising in 17th- 19th century fine and decorative art. She has also worked extensively as a freelance arts writer.

Much of her research to date has focussed upon theories of fetishism and their relationship to femininity, as well as to practices of collection and connoisseurship. Her doctoral thesis, entitled The Profane Interior: Decadence, Femininity, Fetishism, examined Decadence’s literary and artistic engagement with various forms of fetishism, including religious, sexual, and commodity fetishism. Adopting a multidisciplinary definition of Decadence, the thesis drew upon a diverse array of texts, images and objects, with a particular focus upon decorative art and personal adornment. Through analysis of key texts, images, and objects, the thesis demonstrated the subtle interactions that Decadence produces between surface and depth, high and low culture, masculine and feminine, sacred and profane, and analysed in turn the manner in which Decadence ultimately interrogates, undermines, or embellishes the sense of simple opposition or duality implied in these pairings.

Angela has been appointed by CHE to curate an upcoming exhibition on the subject of art and emotion in European society in the period 1400-1800. The exhibition is a collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria, and will focus on the theme of love and the way it has intersected and combined with other emotions to create social and aesthetic scripts that shape changing collective behaviours in the early modern period. While popular conceptions of love tend frequently to focus upon romantic love, one of the primary concerns of the exhibition is the exploration of love’s varied manifestations across the realms of human experience and exchange. These include familial relationships, religious devotion, friendship, altruism, patriotism, narcissism, materialism, nostalgia etc. The exhibition will present depictions of love across these variations in a variety of media, as well non-representational and functional objects which might be perceived to be infused with emotion.

Angela is also co-editing a volume of essays (with Charles Zika) on the subject of art and emotion to accompany the exhibition.

Contact

angela.hesson@ngv.vic.gov.au

Research

Love: Art of Emotion 1400‒1800

Publications

Hesson, A., M. Martin and C. Zika.  Love: Art of Emotion 1400−1800. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2017.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Pleasures of anticipation and possession:  Decadence, artifice and the fetishistic environment’.  In The Victorian Environment, edited by Grace Moore and Michelle Smith. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hesson, Angela, ‘"Flowing fans" and "fevered curves": Ronald Firbank’s Camp Exoticism and the English Country House’.  In The British Empire and Visual Culture Conference Proceedings, Australian Centre.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career’. Neue Luxury, Issue 5, April 2016.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Catacomb Saints: Material Miracles’ Neue Luxury, Issue 4, September 2015.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Johann Van Mullum: Mirrors to the Other Side,’ Neue Luxury, Issue 4, September 2015.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Heartlands and Headwaters’ in Neue Luxury, Issue 3, April 2015.

Hesson, Angela, ‘Perfect Forms: Barry X Ball and the Art of Improvement’ in Neue Luxury, Issue 3, April 2015.

Hesson, Angela ‘Murmur: An installation by Rosslynd Piggott, The Johnston Collection, 2013’ in Neue Luxury, Issue 2, pp.12-13

Hesson, Angela, ‘Vienna: Art and Design’ (double page lift-out), Age, 20/06/1

Hesson, Angela, ‘The Aesthetic Movement’ in A Critical Companion to Henry James (Ed. Kendall Johnson and Eric Haralson, Clearmark Books, 2009) pp.363-364

Hesson, Angela, ‘Women’s Issues’ in A Critical Companion to Henry James (Ed. Kendall Johnson and Eric Haralson, Clearmark Books, 2009) pp.461-463

Hesson, Angela, ‘Glasgow’ in Modern Britain 1900-1960 (Ed. Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, National Gallery of Victoria, 2007) pp.114-115

Hesson, Angela, ‘European Masters from the Städel Museum’ (double page lift-out), Age, 09/07/2010

Hesson, Angela, ‘Discover Dali’ (double page lift-out) Age, 20/07/09

Hesson, Angela, ‘What is Art Deco?’ (double page lift-out) Age, 21/07/08

Exhibitions curated

Murmur: An installation by Rosslynd Piggott,’ The Johnston Collection, 4 March 2013 – 28 June 2013

‘Women Making History: Writers, Thinkers, Makers, Icons 1700-1900’, The Johnston Collection Gallery, 4 March 2013 – 28 June 2013

‘The Bride, The Ship and the Wardrobe: Romance was Born Meets Mr Johnston’, The Johnston Collection, 2 July 2012 – 26 October 2012 

‘After the Meal: A Taste for Excess: Pascale Gomes McNabb Rearranges Mr Johnston’s Collection’ The Johnston Collection, 5 March – 22 June 2012

‘Commanding Splendour: The Duke of Wellington and the Empire Style’, The Johnston Collection Gallery, 2 July 2012 – 26 October 2012

‘Pride and Ornament: The Folly of Vanity’, The Johnston Collection Gallery, 5 March – 22 June 2012

‘The Garden of Ideas: Four Centuries of Australian Garden Design’ The Johnston Collection Gallery, 4 July 2011 – 21 October 2011 (co-curated with Richard Aitken)

‘Oh Do Grow Up: Childhood in England 1750-1850’, The Johnston Collection Gallery, 7 March – 24 June 2011

Conference papers and public presentations (selected)

‘Vestiges of Devotion: Mourning Jewellery and the Materiality of Remembrance’, Remembrance and The Expressive Arts: A Study Day, Hosted by Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and The University of Melbourne, 2015

‘Of Hedgerows and Holy Relics: Queer Nostalgia in the Novels of Ronald Firbank’ Literature and Affect, Australasian Association of Literature Conference, University of Melbourne, 2014

‘Inhabiting ‘the profane interior’: Decadence, artifice and the fetishistic environment’, Annual Conference of the Australasian Victorian Studies Association, Melbourne, Australia, 2013

‘Women Making History: Writers, Thinkers, Makers, Icons 1700-1900’ Lyceum Club, Melbourne, 2013

‘Dangerous Ornament: The Feminine Form in Art Nouveau’, European Visual Culture Seminar, University of Melbourne, 2012

‘Departing the Profane Interior’, Keynote address at the School of Culture and Communication Work in Progress Day, University of Melbourne, 2012

‘Dominance, Dissonance, and Decoration: Gustave Moreau and the Feminine Fetish’, Public Forum: Aspects of Gustave Moreau, University of Melbourne, 2011

The Child’s Book: Amusement Renders Knowledge More Palatable’ (Conversation with Russell Oke), The Johnston Collection, 2011

‘Fin du Globe: Theories of Degeneration’ Guest Lecture for Decadent Literature at the University of Melbourne, 2010

Marie Corelli’s ‘Wormwood: A Drama of Paris’ Guest Lecture for Decadent Literature at the University of Melbourne, 2010

‘‘Flowing fans’ and ‘fevered curves’: Ronald Firbank’s Camp Exoticism and the English Country House’, British Empire and Visual Culture Symposium, University of Melbourne, 2009

‘The Profane Interior’, Victorian Art and Interiors Reading Group, University of Melbourne, 2008

‘Sirens on the Sideboard: The Femme Fatale in Fin-de-Siècle Decorative Art’, Annual Conference of the British Association for Victorian Studies, Liverpool, 2006

‘From Depravity to Domesticity’, Annual Conference of the Australasian Victorian Studies Association, Melbourne, 2006

‘Arthur and Aestheticism’, Annual Conference of the Australasian Victorian Studies Association in Auckland, New Zealand, 2005

‘Effeminacy, Inversion, and the Victorian Medieval Imagination’, Once and Future Medievalisms conference, University of Melbourne, 2004

‘Collection, Consumption, and the Feminisation of Taste’, Victorian Art and Interiors Reading Group, University of Melbourne, 2004

‘Bicycles, Bloomers, and ‘Ravenous Minds’: The Arrival and Reception of the New Woman in the Popular Press’, Annual conference of the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, National Gallery, Canberra, 2003

‘Where Japanese Vases Shimmer and Loom: Henry James and the Art of Decoration’, Postgraduate Work in Progress Day, University of Melbourne, 2003