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Lasting Impressions 2019: Keynote Speaker

Dr Sally Foster from the University of Stirling will be presenting the keynote lecture at Lasting Impressions 2. Dr Foster is Lecturer in Heritage at the University of Stirling. Her fascination with replicas began when she ‘discovered’ early Victorian plaster casts of the Pictish St Andrews Sarcophagus in the 1990s. Her recent interdisciplinary research on authenticity, value and significance still tends to focus on carved stones. This is due to their ability to shift between being monuments and artefacts, from heritage to museum domains and discourses, elaborating upon the contexts in which replicas have been, and continue to be, employed and perceived; different trajectories and implications invite critical but joined-up thinking. Author with Neil Curtis of ‘The thing about replicas’ (European Journal of Archaeology), Dr Foster is working with Siân Jones on My Life as a Replica: St John’s Cross Iona. This ‘composite’ cultural biography links the lives of the original and original reproductions, building on their ethnographic research (International Journal of Heritage Studies; Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites).

At Lasting Impressions 2, Dr Foster's keynote lecture will be titled:

My life as a replica: the role of materiality and craft in letting a replica ‘speak’

Abstract: Replicas are things in their own right, they have their own lives, their own authenticity. If our replicas can have a metaphorical life, they can surely speak to us, but how? Post-humanist thinking gives objects and non-human things greater agency, so how do we listen to them? Ruskin spoke of aura as ‘voicefulness’. To Pearson and Shanks (2001, 95), building on the work of Benjamin: ‘To perceive the aura of an object is to invest it with the ability to look at us in return’. How, therefore, can we harness and apply our understandings of sensory or emotional responses to replicas? Where do materiality and replica craft fit into this picture? Having highlighted the general principles and issues, I will introduce you to my own research on Iona’s 1970 concrete St Johns’ Cross replica, which stands outside at a heritage site. My analysis builds on primary archival research, ethnographic fieldwork to establish contemporary authenticity and values, and interviews with witnesses / those involved in its manufacturing and erection. This reveals the importance of the visibility of makers’ passion, creativity and craft, and materiality, as part of the ‘felt’ relationships generated between people, places and the replica.

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