Cancellation notice due to industrial action — Open Arts Journal research seminar 25 November, 2015

Re. 25th November, Open Arts Journal research seminar with guest speaker Professor Helen Hills (University of York). PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT THE OPEN UNIVERSITY, THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.


The Open University is the publisher of the Open Arts Journal and provides its administrative base. An industrial dispute at the University where our research seminar is normally hosted has resulted in the cancellation of this event on 25th November.


The Open University will be taking strike action over the next three weeks in response to the decision to close seven of their nine regional centres (Bristol, Leeds, Cambridge, London, Oxford, Gateshead and Birmingham) and the threat to over 500 jobs. There will be an all-out strike on the 25th November followed by two weeks of strike action at different centres around the country. The staff will also be undertaking continuous action short of a strike by working to contract.


Further background on the UCU campaign can be found here:


On behalf of the editorial board of the Open Arts Journal, I would like to thank Professor Hills for her kind understanding.


Leon Wainwright, Editor-in-Chief


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Abstract:  Silver & Salvation: Colonial Excess and Baroque Naples.

Helen Hills, Professor of History of Art, University of York


This paper examines the materiality of silver in relation to  trauma, transaction and transformation. It focuses on Naples, under Spanish rule, to explore the effects of colonialism within Europe through art and sculpture. Thus I consider the presentation of ‘the nature of the Neapolitans’ and their practices as ‘excessive’ through the material of silver. Silver was imported into Naples from Spanish territories in the so-called New World. In Naples silver is naturalized through artifice – both rendered to represent ‘nature’ and made into an apparently intrinsic part of ‘Neapolitan culture’. Indeed, the profligate display of silver in Neapolitan churches is remarked upon by foreign visitors as a mark of the very ‘nature’ of Neapolitans’ themselves.



Baroque Naples was tarnished in Protestant Europe with a reputation for excess – particularly an excess of silver in its churches and chapels, part of the mortmain of the Spanish church, a prodigious resource that was gathering dust rather than fighting wars or generating interest. Silver was the material par excellence for chalices, pyx and plate, for carte di gloria and sacred and liturgical objects of many kinds, including the spectacular solid silver reliquaries in the Treasury Chapel of San Gennaro in Naples, unsurpassed amongst European treasuries. Silver was particularly implicated in discourses of the sacred, yet silver was implicated, too, in the violence of Spanish colonialism.  Silver seemed to offer the imperial Spanish what they most desired – a means to substantialize every relation, even with the divine. And it was in Naples above all, emblem and testing ground of Spanish rule in Europe, that silver was beaten into splendid submission. Scholarship has made much of colonialism and its relationship with culture outside of Europe. But what of colonialism within Europe? Silver offers an opening.