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Research Seminars - Hilary 2023

All Seminars are on Thursdays at 5 pm

9 February 2023

The dismembered past: digitally retrieving lost eighteenth-century Irish buildings

Dr Andrew Tierney, Postdoctoral Fellow, History of Art TCD

Drawing on research carried out in CRAFTVALUE, an IRC funded project based in Trinity College Dublin, this paper explores the work of Irish architect, Edward Lovett Pearce, and German architect, Richard Castle, through the lens of digital reconstruction. 3D models can help navigate those parts of their architectural output that have disappeared through alteration, fire, or demolition. Currently such buildings exist in a liminal zone of scholarship, their dismembered state making it a challenge to visualise their scale, proportion, and material presence. Sources for reconstruction are often dispersed into a wide range of documents, from building accounts to architectural drawings, paintings, and photographs, and in the surviving fragments of the building itself. Digital media can not only pull such sources together more cohesively, but also peel back layers of stone, brick, timber, and plaster, revealing craft techniques normally concealed from view. In addition, the 3D model offers a more immersive experience of the spatial, scalar, and textural properties of lost buildings, as defined by movement, light and sound. This paper will discuss these issues in relation to the former Irish parliament in College Green, Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, and Summerhill, Co. Meath.

CraftValue research project, TCD


23 February 2023

St Dymphna. The Tragedy of an Irish Princess

Dr Lizzie Marx, Curator, National Gallery of Ireland

In 2016, the Phoebus Foundation in Belgium undertook a large-scale restoration project focusing on an altarpiece triptych in their collection by Goossen van der Weyden (1455-1543). Dymphna – a legendary 6th or 7th century Irish saint was the daughter of a Celtic king. When Dymphna grew to resemble her mother, her widowed father decided to marry her. To escape his incestuous intentions, Dymphna fled Ireland for Geel in Belgium, with her confessor Gerebernus. Dymphna’s father pursued and killed them, and their bodies were buried on the spot by angels. The Church of St Dymphna in Geel, consecrated in 1247, still holds relics associated with the saint. This presentation discusses the altarpiece featuring scenes from the life of St Dymphna. It is the only work of its kind to focus on the life of an Irish saint.

National Gallery Exhibition (opens 28th January 2023): St Dymphna. The Tragedy of an Irish Princess


2 March 2023

Traditional Architecture in Offaly

Rachel McKenna, MRIAI, Senior Executive Architect, Offaly County Council

Conservation architect Rachel McKenna is author of Traditional Architecture inn Offaly. History, Materials and Furniture 1800 to Present Day (Offaly County Council, 2022). Her seminar will cover factors that led to the recent publication, the research process and fascinating site visits. Following chapters in the book, the seminar will consider the setting of dwellings in the landscape and look at plan types and materials used in their construction. Each of the three main rooms, kitchen, parlour and bedroom, will be studied with their fixtures and fittings. These elements generate the soul of the building, transforming a house into a home, filled with a tangible atmosphere, layered with personality.


6 April 2023

Good Design for Climate Science: The Case of the Bretherton Diagram (1986)

Dr Timothy Stott, History of Art, TCD

Published in 1986, the Bretherton Diagram was the first comprehensive diagram of the Earth System and has been much quoted, adapted, and amended since. It has been hugely important for climate scientists, especially the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (1987-2015) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (est. 1988), but it remains obscure to most of us.  
This talk will discuss how and why this diagram looks the way it does, who was involved, what they argued about, what media and design principles they used, and what they wanted the diagram to show and do. Studying the Bretherton Diagram within a broader visual culture of promotional literature, mock-ups, presentations, textbooks, articles, policy documents, and so on, will offer insights into how information design, including the often hidden assumptions and values of ‘good design’, has shaped climate science and our knowledge of an imperilled planet. 

Dr Tim Stott research profile  



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