Visual & Material Culture Research Centre


Revealing a forgotten legacy. Research at the Centre continues to uncover and re-establish the legacies of figures who have found themselves on the margins of modernist art histories. Professor Fran Lloyd, Director, Visual and Material Culture Research Centre.
A rightful place in art history?


In 1991, sculptor Dora Gordine passed away at Dorich House in Kingston upon Thames at the age of 96. Two years later, the building and its unique collection of art works was saved from dereliction by Kingston University. Once hailed as 'possibly the finest woman sculptor in the world' and a major presence in European sculpture until the late 1960s, Dora Gordine’s artistic legacy was, until recently, conspicuous by its absence from discourses on 20th century art.


In 2004, Visual and Material Culture Research Centre (VMCRC) researchers Lloyd and Black began ground-breaking research on the archives, sculpture and drawings of Dora Gordine held at Dorich House Museum. The research was the first to be undertaken on Gordine and established the significance of her contribution to 20th century art, design and architecture, and to the wider cultural and political arena.


The research also highlighted the wider context of Gordine’s practice as an émigré artist in Britain and inspired the development of a three-site exhibition and research-informed public engagement programme based on her work.


Collaboration between VMCRC researchers and Kingston Museum enabled the museum to launch a Dora Gordine retrospective and accompanying public engagement programme. Through the Gordine retrospective, the museum gained knowledge and experience of the different ways a historical collection and archive can be used to generate material relevant to contemporary audiences.


As a result of the Gordine exhibition, Kingston Museum recognised the wider significance of their Eadweard Muybridge Collection and collaborated with the centre on the AHRC Knowledge Catalyst programme to develop a world-wide Muybridge Portal. The project  brought together 120 major public and private collections from around the world and established Kingston Museum’s collection as one of the 5 most significant internationally. The programme helped the museum build formal partnerships with the British Film Institute and the Tate as part of the Muybridge Tate & Kingston Museum exhibition collaboration. In addition, the collaborations between the centre and Kingston Museum have resulted in two successful Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant awards.


Since the establishment of the Muybridge portal, VMCRC researcher Prof Stephen Barber has undertaken a Leverhume Trust supported research project on Eadweard Muybridge's “memory-book”, which was created in the final years of his life. Encompassing early moving-image projection, and processes of vision and digitisation, the resulting book, Muybridge: The Eye In Motion is the first-ever study focused directly on the relevance of Muybridge’s work for contemporary digital cultures. In addition, the centre’s work with the Muybridge Collection has resulted in a series of public talks, a special Muybridge issue of the Routledge journal Early Popular Visual Culture, and an AHRC funded PhD studentship at Kingston.



  • £96,928 AHRB Grant:. Lloyd, 2006.
  • £10,500 AHRC Dissemination Grant: Lloyd, 2006.
  • £5,000 Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, Publication Grant: Black, 2007.
  • £5,000 Henry Moore Foundation, Publication Grant: Lloyd, 2007.
  • £46,000 Heritage Lottery Fund: Lloyd and Martin, 2008-09.
  • £19,724 AHRC Knowledge Catalyst Grant KCP: Lloyd, 2009-10.


Selected publications

Barber, Stephen (2012) Muybridge, the eye in motion: tracing cinema's origins. Washington, D.C., U.S. : Solar Books. 200p. (Solar Film Directives) ISBN 9780983248057


Jonathan Black and Fran Lloyd, Subtlety and Strength: The Drawings of Dora Gordine(Philip Wilson, London) 2009, ISBN 978-0-85667-658-8


Jonathan Black, Brenda Martin, Fran Lloyd,Dora Gordine, Sculptor, Artist, Designer, 2007 (Philip Wilson, London) ISBN 978-085667-644-4


Collaborators / Partners / Funders


The Visual and Material Culture Research Centre (VMCRC) provides a focus for research in a range of disciplinary methodologies with a shared emphasis on modernity and its futures.  Activities in the centre are organised around three complementary themes: Historical and Critical Studies; Place, Space and Global Futures; and Gender, Technology and the Human Image.


Centre director Professor Fran Lloyd and Dr Jonathan Black are art historians who share an interest in post-war British sculpture and collaborated over a 5 year period to re-establish the position of artist Dora Gordine in 20th century art history.