The Cullercoats artists' colony c. 1870-1914.
This thesis analyses the work of the artists living and painting in the area around the
fishing village of Cullercoats and examines the conditions which fostered and maintained this
colony during the period 1870 to 1914. As part of this process, two hitherto disparate bodies
of scholarship are considered in tandem. Firstly, the increasing number of studies into
European artists' colonies, encompassing consideration of both the phenomenon itself and of
the artworks produced at them. Secondly, the locally-based recovery of late-Ivth-cenrury
north east artists and their milieu, which has grown out of regional exhibition projects.
Exposing the very clear areas of commonality between the two spheres of study underscores
the central questions which this thesis addresses; namely, can the group of artists at
Cullercoats be described as a colony; and if so, why has it been so consistently denied a place
in colony surveys to-date?
Answers are sought by engaging with a number of inter-related issues. These include
the particular economic and social conditions which could sustain a local artists' colony and
the variety of art clubs, exhibition spaces and sales venues which the colony fostered: the
specific elements which are necessarily present to mark out a 'colony', rather than merely a
'sketching ground': the wider contemporary awareness of the colony and its work and how this
compares with similar coastal colonies in Britain: the unpicking of the ideologies which
underpinned the Naturalist subject in British art in the late-LOth century, including issues of
race and gender ideals, nationalism and regionalism, tourism, and anxieties over urbanisation
The scope of this thesis demands an inter-disciplinary approach, combining social,
economic and political history, gender studies, the wider field of 'cultural studies', as well as
the usual analytical tools of the art historian. In essence, the thesis combines an empirical and
theoretical contextualisation as the framework for a fresh perspective on the position and
work of the Cullercoats artists' colony, which has wider implications for our understanding of
European Naturalism and the colony phenomenon.