Postgraduate Spotlight: Lauren Holmes

Lauren Holmes is a first year doctoral student of Modern History and Art History. Her research focuses on modernism and the cultural history of migrant artists in twentieth century Britain.

Growing up in London, Lauren spent her teenage years lurking in art galleries and reading about the lives of others through her never-ending book collection. She became increasingly intrigued by the history of the spaces around us as result of volunteer work at William Morris’ Red House in South East London and a summer spent in employment at Buckingham Palace. Her desire to pursue these interests in more depth gradually became clear. She made the decision to move to St Andrews for her undergraduate degree in Modern History and quickly returned for her Masters having fallen in love with our little seaside town.

During her time as an undergraduate, she grew steadily more interested in both German and British social and cultural history. She sees spatial history as a means of interpreting this. Her masters studies led to a dissertation on the artistic culture of ‘alien’ internment camps in Britain. This project was the catalyst for a newfound curiosity about these lost figures of British art and the place they found within their new environment following their release.

Lauren is currently approaching the end of the first year of her doctoral research after her two-year break from studying. Her return to academia sees her undertaking an interdisciplinary project, working between the Schools of History and Art History under the supervision of Professor Riccardo Bavaj and Dr Sam Rose, to study the impact of German-speaking émigré artists on the British art scene from the 1930s onwards. Despite many of these individuals enjoying success in their careers in continental Europe, relatively little is known about their time in Britain. She hopes to find any forms of influence they may have had on the British art scene- both nationally in terms of artistic content and style and more locally through teaching, interaction, exhibition, and collaboration. Already, this topic is provoking questions relating to the entanglement between modernism, identity, and the experience of migration.

Before pursuing her PhD, Lauren trained as a tattoo artist and continues to work in this field alongside her research, which allows her to indulge her two passions simultaneously. She hopes to use her work to help bridge the gulf between tattoo art and conventional art history, as she believes that each has much to offer the other. She also enjoys painting, podcasts, and pets of any kind. She plans to spend the next 18 months travelling to archives across Britain, Germany, and Switzerland in search of clues about the lives of émigrés in Britain.

About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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