Carolyn Alexander , MSc Museum Studies (Artefacts and Material Culture), BA(HONS)Design (Visual communication).

Job Title:

PhD Research Student


School of Fine Art


Carolyn Alexander Banner

Carolyn Alexander Banner


Carolyn Alexander

Materiality, Aura and Authenticity: Can the use of contemporary art and design practice facilitate deeper engagement with restored or reconstructed material culture?

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Ross Sinclair
Co-Supervisor: Ranald MacInnes

Since studying Visual Communication at Glasgow School of Art, my creative practice has focused on our social relationships with things, and visitor interaction with objects in a gallery setting. Going on to study an MSC Museum Studies, specialising in Artefact and Material Culture, presented the opportunity to pursue these interests in an academic setting: investigating themes of authenticity, agency, conservation and materiality. My current research aims to develop a methodology which facilitates a dialogue with visitors concerning aura, authenticity and replication through interpretive sculpture and installations that question our attachments to things.

This project is a practice-based investigation into the experience of aura and authenticity at restored or reconstructed heritage sites, using the Mackintosh Building Restoration Project as a case study. Testing a methodology which relies on public engagement as a means of understanding the social relationships that visitors have with authentic places and artefacts, it questions whether contemporary art and design practice can help facilitate positive encounters and enrich engagement with restored or reconstructed material culture.

This study includes: contextual research into methods of restoration, reconstruction and its interpretation at heritage sites; practical case studies investigating materiality and cultural biography of specific artefacts; and the creation of sculptural and virtual artworks as a response to auratic definitions and oral testimonies. By exploring the potential cross overs between the authentic reproductions associated with heritage management, and the artistic replications seen at various moments in art history, this project will investigate if they can be combined to establish a new form of sensorial heritage interpretation.