Symposium - Turner and the Whale (2017)

Hull Maritime Museum, 28 October 2017

The 'Turner and the Whale Symposium' was a one-day international, inter-disciplinary conference organised by the Department of History of Art at the University of York and hosted by Hull Maritime Museum on Saturday 28 October 2017. It was held to coincide with the exhibition Turner and the Whale, co-curated by Professor Jason Edwards (University of York) and Martha Cattell (AHRC-funded collaborative PhD student, Hull Museums/University of York).

Participants were invited to present a position paper in response to key images and/or objects from the exhibition and the Hull collections. Their presentations ranged across the fields of marine painting; critical animal studies; interdisciplinary folk art and craft studies; Arctic studies; and British art history. The papers were subsequently published and are available to read online, alongside the virtual re-creation of the exhibition on the Department's Research Portal.


Introduction: Turner in the City of Culture? Introductory Sketches

Jason Edwards (University of York): 'Ecosmopolitan Encounters in The Circum-Polar Contact Zone, or Turner in the City of Culture'

Amy Concannon (Tate): 'Whalers, Burning, Blubber: Material, Marks and Meaning in Turner's Whalers Sketchbook'

Turner, Again? Or (Neo-)Liberal Turner

Sarah Monks (University of East Anglia): 'Rendering'

Martin Myrone (Tate): 'Turner, Liberal Modernity, and the Question of Quality'

Turner in the Circum-Polar and Circum-Atlantic Worlds

Jason Edwards (University of York): 'Turner's Dark Veganism'

Eleanor Hughes (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore): 'On Monuments'

Out of their Element? Imaging Aquatic Mammals

Ben Westwood (University of Oxford): 'Out of Their Element'

Martha Cattell (University of York): 'A Fluke? Representing Animal Death in Whaling Log Books'

The Ethics of Scrimshaw

Kyveli Lignou-Tsamantani (University of York): 'Scrimshaw: A Non-Human Atrocity Image of the 19th century?'

Emelia Jane Quinn (University of Oxford): 'Notes on Vegan Camp'

Depicting the Northern Circum-Polar World

Isabelle Gapp (University of York): 'Imagining Ice: Glaciers and Icebergs in Mid-19th-Century Norwegian Landscape and Hull Maritime Painting'

Meg Boulton (Independent Scholar): 'Touching Distance: Spatial Conceptualisations in Circum-Polar Object Works'

JMW Turner, Whalers,

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Whalers, c.1845, oil on canvas; image public domain, Metropolitan Museum of Art,,


Published 10 August 2018

Main image: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Whalers (detail), c.1845, oil on canvas; image public domain, Metropolitan Museum of Art,,

View all our collaborations