10 April 2012

A top international scholar has attracted the greatest turnout in 10 years to an annual arts lecture at The University of Queensland.

Professor Deborah Howard, Professor of Architectural History at the University of Cambridge, attracted a full house on Wednesday night’s Daphne Mayo Lecture, testament to her ability to speak to a broad range of themes – from Venetian art to architecture.

Dr Andrea Bubenik of the UQ School of English, Media Studies and Art History (EMSAH) says 250 people packed out one of the biggest auditoriums on campus, the highest attendance since the lectures began in 2003.

“This is a highly-respected scholar at the top of her game and we were very lucky to have her,” said Dr Bubenik.

Professor Howard visited for a week as part of EMSAH’s annual Daphne Mayo Visiting Professorship in Visual Culture, during which she presented a masterclass for postgraduate students, two undergraduate lectures in art history, and engaged with the EMSAH school community. The lecture is presented by both EMSAH and the UQ Art Museum, and is supported largely by the Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland.

Dr Bubenik says Professor Howard appealed to a diverse range of disciplines because she is able to speak with authority on art, architecture, music, acoustics, space and history, among other things.

“There has been a wonderful interdisciplinary dialogue going on,” she said.

The lecture – Good Citizenship: The World of the Venetian cittadino - focused on the patronage and visual culture of Venice, but it also featured the theme of citizenship.

“Citizenship as a topic goes beyond architectural history, and offers questions that still matter to us. That is an important aspect of studying the past in that it can enable you to look at the future,” said Dr Bubenik.

In the lecture, Professor Howard covered how the ‘middle classes’ in Venice were distinguished by rank, wealth and taste, and their patronage or commissioning of artworks. The lecture challenged the common perception that their tastes in art were less refined than those of the ruling nobility.


The School of EMSAH established the annual Daphne Mayo Visiting Professorship in Visual Culture to honour and commemorate the life of one of Queensland’s most prominent artists and art educators, Daphne Mayo (1895-1982). Each year, a major figure visits Brisbane to speak about the latest trends, influences, and theories in their area of visual culture.

Professor Deborah Howard has held visiting appointments at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010 and has published numerous books on Venice and its architecture.

Media: Janelle Kirkland at UQ Communications (07 3346 0561 or j.kirkland@uq.edu.au).