The Art and Science of Medieval Church Screens will help shape new understandings of old barriers: the richly carved and painted screens which filled medieval churches throughout Europe, often dividing 'lay' from 'priestly' space. It will aim not only to bring together the latest scholarship on the subject from both western and eastern Europe, but will aim to explore the technical aspects of the manufacture of such screens from the point of view of the art-science nexus which in Cambridge we are uniquely well placed to do. We hope to raise consciousness about the technical as well as religious and aesthetic aspects of these screens more widely, as well as provoking thought as to their future conservation. In England alone, about 300 such screens, dating to the late Middle Ages, survive and form a huge and fairly understudied resource for study. The European, including Byzantine or Orthodox sector, is bigger still.
This two-day international conference will bring together religious historians, art and architectural historians, conservators and conservation scientists. The interdisciplinary meeting comes at the end of a three-year study on rood screens based at the Hamilton Kerr Institute and in collaboration with the Department of the History of Art. Impact-wise, the conference will provide an opportunity to disseminate the results of this project, to contextualise it Europe-wide, to direct future research, and to develop strategies for the future preservation of screens.
The Department would like to express its gratitude towards the Paul Mellon Centre Educational Programme for the grant which they have awarded to fund the conference.