CONF: Surrealism in Britain, 1925-1955 (Wakefield, 6 Oct 2018)


The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Saturday, 6 October 2018
10am – 4pm

£15 / £10 Members / £7.50 Students

Convened over the final weekend of the exhibition Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain at The Hepworth Wakefield (22 June – 7 October 2018) this one-day international symposium aims to rethink Surrealism in Britain through an expanded lens. The deliberately broad time-frame allows for exploration of Surrealism’s presence in Britain before its supposed arrival in 1936 and in the post-war era.

Bridging fine art, fashion and journalism with an eye for the extraordinary, Lee Miller’s photography provides a useful starting point for a renewed consideration of a broad range of Surrealist practices as they unfolded in Britain between the 1920s and 1950s.

Questioning familiar narratives, the symposium aims to reconstruct intricate networks of artists and writers – friends, lovers and rivals – through which Surrealist ideas circulated and mutated during a turbulent historical period.

The event includes a keynote lecture by Dr Patricia Allmer (Edinburgh University).

Organised by Dr Rachel Stratton (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr Hilary Floe (The Hepworth Wakefield).


10.00: Coffee and registration

10.20: Welcome and introduction by conference organisers (Dr Hilary Floe and Dr Rachel Stratton)

10.30-11.20: SESSION ONE, Collecting and Display (chair: Eleanor Clayton)

  • Dr Caterina Caputo (The Frick Collection, New York): The London Gallery and the promotion of “new” Surrealists in the UK: the case of Paul Delvaux.
  • Katia Sowels (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris), The London Gallery as a Surrealist Laboratory: the Surrealist Objects & Poems Exhibition, November-December 1937

11.20-12.10: SESSION TWO, Surrealism and Popular Culture (chair: Dr Hilary Floe)

  • Dr Marjorie Coughlan (University of York): Surrealism, Surrealisation and Photomontage in the Public and Private Photography of Angus McBean (1904-1986)
  • Niall Billings (The Courtauld Institute), “In the end, she dies”: an exploration of surrealism within Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes

Lunch break

1.10-2.00: SESSION THREE, Surrealism and its Afterlives (chair: Clare Nadal)

  • Dr Lisa Maddigan Newby (University of East Anglia), Ethnographic Surrealism in Postwar London
  • Dr Catriona McAra (University of Leeds), Surrealist Souvenirs: The Prime Minister’s Bracelet and Leonora Carrington’s Postcards

Coffee break


  • Dr Patricia Allmer (Edinburgh University), “Temple of Sight” – British Surrealism and the Crystal Skull

3.00-3.45: Panel discussion and Q&A: Eleanor Clayton, Dr Patricia Allmer (Chair: Dr Rachel Stratton)

3.45: Wrap up

Reference: CONF: Surrealism in Britain, 1925-1955 (Wakefield, 6 Oct 2018). In:, Sep 30, 2018. <>