One Object, Many Voices: Three Events June/July 2023

Join us for three events brought to you by YAHCs in collaboration with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership (YCHP):

Monday 12 June: One Object Many Voices – An Evening with Giambologna (York Festival of Ideas)

Bronze sculpture of a small owl with opening wings

Giambologna, Owl, bronze (photo courtesy of and © Castle Howard).

Ron Cooke Hub, University of York Campus East, York YO10 5GE
7.00–8.00 p.m.
Free, book via Eventbrite.

Two important works of art will be brought to the University campus for a special viewing as part of this year’s Festival of Ideas on the theme of Rediscover, Reimagine, Rebuild. Our audience will have a rare opportunity to see Giambologna’s sculptures up close and in the round, while our panel of experts respond to the Hawk and Owl from a variety of specialist perspectives – encompassing art history, ecology, metalwork conservation, and the art market.

Speakers are:

Dr Amanda Hilliam, Associate Lecturer in History of Art at the University of York;
Sarah Hoyle, ecologist and volunteer RSPB ranger based in Yorkshire;
Alex Kader, Senior Director & Co-Worldwide Head of European Sculpture at Sotheby's;
Sophy Wills, Senior Metalwork Conservator, The Royal Collection;
Nicholas Howard from Castle Howard.

Tuesday 27 June: One Object Many Voices – Fashion History Up Close – Encounters with the Materiality of Victorian Parasols

Closed silk parasols in a rowKing's Manor, University of York,Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7EP

6.00–8.00 p.m.

Free - Book via Eventbrite

Did you know that parasols not only preserved the pale complexion desired by well-to-do white women, but that they were also a dress accoutrement that needed to be matched to different occasions and outfits, and updated with each changing fashion? The manufacturing of these objects supported vast and often exploitative industries with local and global dimensions. Trading networks spanning from South America to the North Atlantic and Eastern Asia supplied materials such as rare woods, silks, baleen (a product of the whaling industry), precious stones, silver, and ivory.

This public workshop will bring you up close to several objects that have never been shown in public. Join a panel of craftspeople and researchers for an exploration of the various ways in which the materials of these fashion accessories can be studied. In an accessible and entertaining format, specialists will offer new insights into studying and working with these materials. They will show that the expertise of a lace-maker, bone-carver, and material scientist are just as relevant for a richer understanding of fashion history as that of dress and art historians.

Speakers are:

  • Dr Cordula van Wyhe (Department of History of Art);
  • Gil Dye (independent researcher and lace maker)
  • Dr Chris Holland (Senior Lecturer in Natural Materials, the University of Sheffield);
  • Rick Sutton (bone carver)

Wednesday 12 July 2023: One Object Many Voices – Fashion History Up Close – Looking at Georgian Fashion from the Inside Out

Ornate gold buckle

Fairfax House, Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN

6.00–8.00 p.m.

Free - Book via Eventbrite

Did you know that the optimal eighteenth-century fashionable appearance relied to a large extent on the use of buckles?

Fastened to shoes, sashes, cravats and hats, buckles could be both functional and ‘flashy’. They held up tall neckties and slimmed the waist. Georgian bodies were also moulded into the desired silhouette by the cut and design of their clothes and support garments. However, being ‘in fashion’ is more than presenting a façade to be looked at. Being fashionable can also mean looking back at the viewer, with a calibrated move and gaze achieved with the right optical prosthesis such as a quizzing glass.

For the Georgians, being fashionable also meant being dressed using the latest technological gizmos that helped them to keep time and tasks under control, such as watches and notebooks. When was the last time you felt properly dressed/equipped without your phone?

Visit Fairfax House, one of England’s finest Georgian townhouses in the centre of York, for a hands-on exploration of these and many other ideas. You will have an opportunity to see Fairfax House’s collection of fine Georgian clothing and accessories up close.

Curators and historians from Leeds and York will introduce you to an eighteenth-century world of fashion that seems remote, yet also familiar.

Speakers are:

Dr Cordula van Wyhe (Department of History of Art, University of York); Vanessa Jones (Assistant Curator, Leeds Museum and Galleries); and Dr Sarah Burnage (Curator, Fairfax House), who invites all participants to a tour of the house at the end the workshop.

Banner image: Giambologna, Hawk, bronze (photo courtesy of and © Castle Howard).