posted on October 18th, 2018

ResFest Arriving at Ulster Museum

This autumn, the Ulster Museum will host RES|FEST 18 BELFAST – a free festival of art historical research devised and delivered in collaboration with The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, a world-leading centre for the study of art history, conservation and curating. From 18.00 to 22.00 on Thursday 25 October, the museum and its collection will be brought to life with a series of talks, performances and debates that demonstrate why art history matters more than ever, in our image-saturated world.


Established at The Courtauld in 2017, RES|FEST features leading and emerging researchers sharing cutting-edge work that reveals secrets of the past. Speakers clarify how art can speak to, and help to interpret, today’s cultural and political landscape. They also demonstrate how our current context shapes our perception of how the world, and its imagery, appears to us.


RES|FEST 18 BELFAST is an action-packed, entertaining evening of quick-fire talks, performances and exhibits that celebrate art history, curating and conservation throughout the galleries of the Ulster Museum. Visitors can drop in for talks led by art world professionals, academics, artists, curators, conservators from Belfast, London and beyond. Northern Irish poets Stephen Sexton, Padraig Regan, Caitlin Newby, and Emma Must will perform new pieces of work made in response to artworks and artefacts on display at the Ulster Museum.


The event will bring art to life, and explore controversial questions. For example, Goldsmiths University’s Dr. Oonagh Murphy asks ‘Can Beyoncé Save Art History?’, while Edwin Coomasaru, of The Courtauld, wonders ‘Is Brexit the Apocalypse?‘.  Dr Riann Coulter asks ‘Is censorship always bad for art?’  In a world fraught with questions of borders and boundaries, Dr Kathryn Milligan explores ‘Artists, networks and exchange: art across borders’. Meanwhile, looking across the disciplines of art and literature, Professor Jack Quinn asks, ‘What can Irish poets tell us about painting and sculpture?’ and closer to home – Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art at National Museums NI proposes – ‘Belfast’s Marmite Building: Love it or hate it?’


This autumn, The Courtauld Gallery in London closed its doors to begin a major refurbishment project titled Courtauld Connects that is partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The temporary closure has opened up the collection to travel the world – and one of its highlights is currently residing in the heart of the Ulster Museum – Modigliani’s 1916 Female Nude is on view at the museum until 28 October 2018.


RES|FEST 18 BELFAST presents a unique opportunity to celebrate this masterpiece and hear from those who have studied and worked with the piece over the years. The BBC’s Fake or Fortune expert and Courtauld conservation specialist Professor Aviva Burnstock will deliver a talk interrogating what we can learn about Modigliani’s painting methods from the evolving technical methods and technologies used by art historians today.


RES|FEST’s ambition is to make research into art and culture accessible, engaging and fun for a wide range of people. It demonstrates that the questions that researchers and curators at The Courtauld grapple with on a daily basis – from art’s relationship with politics to the digital future of the subject – are not reserved for academics; they relate to all of us.

Fern Insh, Research Forum Programme Manager at The Courtauld Institute of Art commented – “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with the Ulster Museum to bring RES|FEST to Belfast. This unique and dynamic festival celebrates art and culture, and involves the public in questions that researchers, curators and writers grapple with at the Ulster Museum, The Courtauld and the world over.”


Anna Liesching, Curator of Art, National Museums NI, added – “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the The Courtauld Institute of Art beginning with the exhibition of the magnificent Modigliani’s famous Female Nude alongside works from National Museums NI’s collection. RES|FEST is a vibrant night of art, talks, performances, music and a celebration of talent in the arts working in Northern Ireland.”


RES|FEST at the Ulster Museum takes place from 18.00 to 22.00 with live music, food and drinks served throughout the night. The event is free and open to all, but booking is essential.  Visit for further information and to book tickets.