Dr Connie Wan
ProGramme Development manager, Birmingham and Midland Institute
Connie is an art historian, curator and cultural programme manager. Her research is focused on nineteenth-century Birmingham-based artists, art education, and societies, particularly the establishment of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, and the artist/drawing master Samuel Lines (1778-1863). Her thesis explored the teaching methods and outputs from Lines’ drawing academy, which he ran with his five sons who were all artists and drawing masters in their own right. Her doctorate also examined in depth the landscape imagery, archaeological excavations and depictions of ecclesiastical architecture by Samuel’s eldest son, Henry Harris Lines.
Connie has worked extensively on projects dedicated to the Black-Country painter and printmaker Edwin Butler Bayliss (1874-1950); and with Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Pop Art collection, especially the works on paper by European artists including Julio le Parc, Karel Appel and Victor Vasarely. She was instrumental in coordinating the 2013-14 exhibition tour of Pauline Boty: pop artist and woman to both Chichester and Lodz, Poland.
Recent research has included delving into the archives of the Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI). Founded in 1854, by Act of Parliament, for the ‘Diffusion and Advancement of Science, Literature and Art amongst all Classes of Persons resident in Birmingham and the Midland Counties’. The BMI’s archive houses important documents relating to its establishment, and features notable individuals such as Arthur Ryland and Joseph Priestley. In particular, Connie has focused on its printed ephemera including pamphlets and transcripts relating to events that took place at the Institute, demonstrating that it was once the cultural centre of Birmingham which paved the way for the establishment of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Birmingham Conservatoire. Past issues of The Institute magazine are also of interest; published and circulated by the BMI from the late nineteenth century, through until the 1960s, the magazine demonstrated the egalitarian nature of the BMI, giving Members of the Institute a voice and an opportunity to express their own areas of knowledge and expertise.
Alongside her role at the BMI, Connie is also working to publish her PhD research as a book that focuses on the Lines family and their influence on art and art education in Birmingham and the Midlands.