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Title: Model citizens : fisherfolk imagery from West Cornwall, 1860-1910
Author: O'Neill, Mary C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 152X
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2015
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In light of the continued interest in rural artists' colonies in Britain and continental Europe, particularly since 2000, this thesis constitutes a wide-ranging examination of the fisherfolk imagery produced in Newlyn, St Ives and Falmouth within a comprehensive, up-to-date conceptual framework. The investigation analyses the role of selectivity in representations of fishing life in West Cornwall between 1860 and 1910, taking into account the artistic tradition to which such imagery belongs. To address the core question of the paintings' realism, the thesis examines the interplay between pictorial and photographic representations of Cornish fishing populations. It also explores a range of interactions between artists and the local populations who provided their models. The analysis of image content focuses on the material, working and social practices represented, and on the socio-historical contexts in which Cornish works were produced in order to investigate combinations of authenticity and artistic contrivance that characterise rustic naturalist painting. Cornish archive material and maritime expertise have provided the local ethnographic basis for assessing the former. Contemporary local and metropolitan critical reception have been considered as part of an interdisciplinary discussion of national, regional and gender identities to locate the works within a marked nationalist discourse. Given the ethnographic scope of the research, certain Bourdieusian concepts – habitus, hexis, field and capital – are invoked in relation to artists' and local people's practices. A survey of comparable works produced in the Danish colony of Skagen serves to identify common features of fishing and artistic habitus and, crucially, to highlight the specificity of the Cornish works. This thesis posits that artists' representations of Cornwall – broadly synonymous with the label "Newlyn School" despite local and artistic efforts to forge a distinct collective identity as the "Cornish School" – were not only selective, but clearly construct Cornwall's "fisherfolk" as model citizens for national consumption.
Supervisor: Payne, Christiana Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral