Skip to main content

The Expressive Mark Symposium

Join us for an online symposium that considers issues around the production and reception of abstract art in post-war Britain.

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery (University of Leeds), in collaboration with Leeds Art Gallery, presents this virtual symposium exploring abstract painting in Britain, from the post-war to the postmodern period. Coinciding with the exhibition ‘The Expressive Mark’ at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery as well as ‘The Expressive Mark Extended’ at Leeds Art Gallery, a display of abstract painting from the collection, this symposium considers issues around the production and reception of abstract art in post-war Britain.

British abstract painting in the second half of the twentieth century is frequently understood as being led by Abstract Expressionism in America. Though acknowledging the power of this influence, this symposium aims to expand understanding of this era, placing the production of British abstract painters within a European and indeed, a uniquely British history of abstraction.

The powerful signature mark making of British artists of this era – such as Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Sandra Blow – and their processes, added significantly to the development and history of British abstraction. Significant attention will be paid to women artists working in this style, some of whom have received less attention than deserved by art historians and curators.



Dr James Finch (Tate Britain) - 1950s Abstraction and its Critics

Dr Clare Nadal - In(Visibility): Locating Post-War Abstract Painting by Women

Stephen Feeke (Ph.D. candidate, Courtauld Institute of Art) - Curves in Space: The Interplay between Hepworth’s Sculpture and Tachiste Painting

Dr Natalie Ferris (Durham University) - Visual Signs: Abstraction, Poetry, and the Pope of Modern Art

Dr Catherine Spencer (University of St Andrews) - Abstracted Subjects: Residues, Memories, Traces


See the full programme details, and book your place.

Booking essential. This event takes place online, a Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees one day before the symposium.

The Expressive Mark exhibition is open in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery until 2 April 2022. Find out more and plan your visit.