Cornerstone Heritage

Cornerstone has a vibrant postgraduate community with researchers engaged on a diverse range of projects in fields ranging from architecture to art history, business to tourism.

Postgraduate symposium

"Our first annual postgraduate symposium, held at Saltram House in December, was a great success with papers presented by students from Art History, Architecture, Design, Geography and Tourism. Our keynote speaker was Louise Ayres, House and Collections Manager for the National Trust at Saltram. We look forward to planning next year's event."

Alex Rowe, Cornerstone Postgraduate Coordinator

Plymouth Sound

Current postgraduate members include:

  • Jayne Buchanan, PhD, Art History

Imagining and remembering the soldier at the Imperial War Museum (1980 - 2000)

My research considers the ability of art to memorialise conflict through representations of the soldier in the art collection at the Imperial War museum. The focus of my investigation is the period 1980-2000 in which the Falkland’s War, the Gulf War in Afghanistan and the Bosnian War occurred, but I will also place this period in context of the museum’s foundation during the First World War. My research considers the creation, exhibition, media reception and reinterpretation of the art, as well as the variations in the representation of the soldier and how patronage at the Imperial War Museum has shaped this icon.

  • Marietta Klein Essink, ResM, Art History

A Critical Approach to 100 Years of Treasury Books

The main objective of writing my ResM thesis is to produce an in-depth history of fourteenth century Sienese Biccherna Covers and assess their art historical significance, a paper that appears not to have been written. Much can be revealed in the study of these late medieval painted wooden panels that formed the front cover of bound manuscripts, containing the tax records of the commune’s Treasury (Biccherna). Decorated book covers were created in other parts of Europe and the Middle East, but the study of the iconography of Sienese Biccherna Covers raises some very interesting questions. I shall look at why, despite their excellent preservation, they spent their lives in relative obscurity and a veil was drawn over a significant reflection of social history and the workings of the city state. The paper will closely examine how their secular imagery is inextricably linked to the strong civic religious, political, economic and social historical aspects that permeated every-day life. How they appear to be a primary, but much overlooked source of invaluable information about the commune during the period, becomes a question that has not been sufficiently addressed.

For an in-depth study of around ten Biccherna covers, I propose to apply traditional critical methodology, such as Erwin Panofsky’s paradigms of Iconography and Iconology and, in that way, I hope to shed light on the complicated structure of the commune during the period, by revealing the personalities behind the many names of the signatories to the registers contained between the panels, who were themselves members of the Biccherna Magistracy. A close in situ study at Siena’s State Archives and the Biblioteca Comunale has been started and will continue during the next few years. Study of names may further reveal answers to questions of commissioning, patronage, artistic significance, propaganda and reception.

  • Jeni Fraser, PhD, Art History

A Strategy of Distinction: Cultural Identity and the Carews of Antony

When William Carew (1689-1744) and Reginald Pole-Carew (1753-1835) unexpectedly inherited the Antony estates in the southwest of England, each invested in material culture to create, maintain and justify his distinction as a landowning member of élite society. Discourses around the uses of visual and material culture throughout the eighteenth century are usually framed in contrast: either the ostentatious collections of the hereditary nobility which denoted rank, wealth, and power, or the status-seeking “middling sorts” who used luxury goods to paper over social and cultural gaps. In the space between these two social groups were the Carews (and a great number of landed gentry like them) who built relatively unpretentious country houses and who commissioned, collected and displayed luxury goods as statements of an identity not based on declarations of affluence, prestige, or social mobility. Using original, unpublished, archival research and testing the findings against historical and contemporary studies, the interdisciplinary approaches in this thesis will analyse the Carews’ uses of luxury goods - in country house building, landscaping and portraiture - to cultivate an identity commensurate with their aims. Unpacking a strategy of distinction for each of William Carew and Reginald Pole-Carew offers a new perspective on eighteenth-century conspicuous consumption. The findings assert that what the Carews commissioned, collected, and displayed fills a gap in current scholarship and must be integrated into any comprehensive understanding of the uses of luxury goods throughout the century.

  • Adam Guy, PhD, Architecture

Dark Waters – Revealing, measuring, and communicating the 'value' of rivers.

Paraphrasing Levi-Strauss 'rivers are good to think with' but do we really value them given the increasing decline in the extent, quality, and biodiversity of the wetlands through which they run? The Dark Waters PhD project steps back from the dominant cost-benefit or aggregation of individual preference driven modes of environmental management and the binary notions of nature/culture oppositions that underlie much of these evaluations, to an appreciation of the dynamic networks of people, things, and thoughts that actually constitute the rural and urban riverscapes of South Devon. Capitalising on the power of water to arouse emotive feelings the project seeks to not only answer the questions of what is significant in local places (human and non-human things and their properties), and how they act (their interconnecting processes), but also why they are important to the people that live, work, and play beside, on, or in, these rivers (their values)? Through eliciting, recording, and analysing these affective values toward waterscapes, in the context of multi-sector, multi-interest, partnership work the project aims to contribute to emerging practices of knowledge co-creation, and collective goal setting. Fieldwork, set in the rural, urban and peri-urban catchments and estuaries of South Devon, will focus on the deliberative elicitation or operational constitution, through an engaged workshop setting, of the values as of those who live, work, and play by, or upon these rivers.

  • Katherine Norley, ResM, Art History

Country House Visiting in the Long Eighteenth-Century

For my ResM thesis in Art History, I am investigating country house visiting during the long eighteenth century (1660-1830) with a specific focus on the themes power culture and display. To investigate this, I shall be focussing on the counties Devon and Cornwall with a specific focus primarily on Saltram House with reference to other properties within the two counties to compare and contrast my research findings. Under these themes, questions of the country houses purpose, how the house itself influenced culture, how it became a tool used for representation and self-fashioning of status within Devon and Cornwall shall be examined. Those who visited these country houses shall also be investigated in connection to these themes to demonstrate the country house as social and political statement. Further to this, social and political ideologies of the period shall be investigated with reference to the country house as an embodiment of political power with a political and social agenda used as a tool for elevation in terms of status within society.

I shall be researching this topic to bring new knowledge into this scholarship due to having no previous study conducted on the counties Devon and Cornwall. Primary sources on both counties suggest that there is a difference compared to other properties researched within England which were visited regularly by a more varied public. The reasons behind this difference shall be argued by comparing research by leading scholars within the field who have focussed on properties which were open regularly to the public. Unlike previous scholarship, I shall be combining both the architecture of the country house with the taste in art collecting displayed within the interior of the house to strengthen my argument that the country house served as a symbol of political power. To further strengthen this, how the country house was received by those who visited and its influence shall also be argued.

  • Nicola Wakeman, ResM, Art History

The Urban Metropolis and its Inhabitants: as depicted by The Ashcan School and The Camden Town Group

To enhance the understanding of the way Parisian influences have disseminated so differently across the channel and the Atlantic, my research investigates how Baudelaire’s call for the depiction of modern life was translated in the paintings of two artists’ groups, the Camden Town Group and the Ashcan School. I assess and analyse their similarities and differences, conceiving original perspectives, interpretations and conclusions on their disparities. The influence of the Parisian cultural landscape has been looked at previously but my thesis will focus on how this relates to the urban environment of the two biggest cities in the Western world, London and New York, during the first decades of the twentieth century. My research concentrates on the question of whether the prevailing social milieu and environment of these two cities created an atmosphere that shaped these disparities. Furthermore, I shall ask if the previous dominant categories of art had an impact on their representations; landscape for America and genre painting for Britain.

  • Alex Rowe, PhD, Tourism and Hospitality

The 'Poldark Effect': Socio-cultural Impact of Media Tourism on Heritage and Identities in Cornwall

I am interested in the triangular links between heritage, tourism and identity and the influence of media products upon this relationship. My PhD research builds upon my MRes thesis which explored specific cases of Cornish heritage sites utilising the popularity of the Poldark novels and television adaptations for touristic purposes. My research will pay particular attention to the role media-driven tourism plays in the commodification of Cornish mining heritage sites and heritage interpretation that may be deemed as a sanitisation of Cornwall’s history and identity.

  • Sally Sutton, PhD, Architecture

Rivers as Rebels

My thesis investigates the relationship between architecture and the role of the river. It aims to demonstrate the interdependence between the built and natural environment and how this dynamic is transformed by prevailing economic, political and social forces. A case-study will examine the degree to which urban demands are now uniquely changing the patterns of river use. It investigates the ways in which diverse riverine architecture and lifestyles are opening up new urban and social opportunities, often in response to onshore elitist developments. The study focuses on the lifestyles of specific floating riverine communities to establish to what extent they are contributing to and influencing the contemporary narrative of the river.

  • Jane Webb, Tourism

My thesis investigates the relationship between the emotional and subjective well-being provided by guided walks and the importance of the visitor experience. I provide a purposeful and interpreted route that engages with the visitor and allows them to actively share their emotions pre, during and after the walk. What happens to visitors during the guided walk? And what experiences are the visitors feeling during the walk? What expectations do they have? These are all qualities that need to be explored to ensure the visitor experiences the perfect guided walk. There are two strands of inquiry that are attached to the research methodology and aim to involve analysis of visitor’s emotions and reflections from tour guides to help with the development and adaption of the future in guided walking. Analysis of the visitor’s feelings, when they arrive at each point of interest on a walk and stages of their emotions throughout are all important steps that can determine how their guided walk experience can be improved? Attention is also drawn to the practices and values that emerge from respondents using both strands as tools to understand the process of a visitor’s emotions and well-being after the guided walk. The use of Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis transcribes the interviews and drafts them into themes that can then collaborate with the facilitation of successful implementation in the aid of re-designing future walks.

  • Ian Hubbard

  • Coral Manton

  • Zoe Roberts, PhD, Tourism and Hospitality