Paying tribute to Dr Bridget Crone (1973-2023)
It is with great sadness that the Department of Visual Cultures announces the passing of Dr Bridget Crone, an internationally recognised curator and writer, former alumni, and Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths.
Bridget died on 28 January 2023 at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer. She was much loved in the Department and at Goldsmiths. All students and staff—academic and professional—as well as the art world in which she worked, remember her unfalteringly beaming smile, her sense of humour and adventure, her self-effacing nature coupled with a flamboyant sense of dress, and, above all, her kindness and generosity.
Bridget was born in 1973 in Melbourne, Australia, growing up in Eaglemont, an established suburb and landscape that inspired some of Australia’s most famous artists who became known as the Heidelberg School of Art. Bridget’s parents—a professional scientist and a pharmacist—were keen to give her the best possible education, which extended beyond the academic, so they helped set-up a Montessori School. When Bridget became a Foundation student at the Plenty Valley Montessori primary school in Melbourne, she joined a method of education—based on developing students’ natural interests and activities rather than following a formal teaching curriculum—that was to be central to her life-long learning and teaching beliefs. Although she went on to graduate with a First Class BA in Fine Art at the University of Melbourne, Bridget was also an accomplished cellist who played and toured internationally with the Chamber Strings of Melbourne.
A true believer of Goldsmiths’ creative and critical potential and of its student-centered learning methodologies not too dissimilar to those advocated by Maria Montessori, Bridget held three degrees from Goldsmiths: an MA in Creative Curating (September 2001), a PhD in Visual Cultures (September 2013), and a Postgraduate Certificate in Management, Learning, and Teaching in Higher Education (September 2016). On all three programmes, Bridget was known as a serious and creative student always eager to challenge received opinions and ideas, generously providing unexpected alternatives and playful solutions. Her fellow alumni all became life-long friends, often collaborating and working together on new and inventive projects that defied the conventional structures of art and curating.
Before her untimely passing, Bridget was co-convenor of the MPhil-PhD Advanced Practices. Previously, she was Programme Leader of the Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Art History and convened several undergraduate courses on curating and the curatorial. She also supervised six PhD students across several degrees and departments. Over the years, many of her students have remarked on her inspiring teaching skills: her preparedness, her attention to detail, her generous manner, and above all, her unfaltering engagement with the students’ own perspectives. Bridget was well known for transforming students’ lives and their subsequent academic and artistic journeys. The recent outpouring of condolences is a true testament of the way she touched the hearts and minds of her students.
Bridget held numerous curatorial positions in the UK and internationally since the late 1990s, including: Media Art Bath (Director, 2006-11), The Showroom, London (2003-6); the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; the ICA, London; Arnolfini, Bristol; and Flat Time House, London among others. Having a long-standing interest and involvement in artists’ films and videos, Bridget convened Film Exercise a longstanding monthly screening programme at Arnolfini, Bristol (2009-14) and The Cinemas Project: Exploring the Spectral Spaces of Cinema in Regional Victoria, Australia (April-July 2014). In all her curatorial work, Bridget excelled not only in creative organisational skills, but also in her unflinching ability to always see the good side to problems encountered when bringing a project to fruition.
Her research focused on the place, role, technology, and ecology of the body in contemporary art and curatorial practices. Bridget had an extraordinary propensity to weave together different practices (art, theatre, performance, curating, moving image, philosophy, theory, history, etc.) and through them, to propose new forms of encounter and engagement, each time inviting viewers, readers, participants, and audiences to engage themselves in the act of sensing the world, if not anew, at least, otherwise. Her inventiveness and her commitment to exploring new ideas and modes of thinking and researching were exemplary. She was the editor of a number of influential publications:
Her first edited book, The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image (2012 / republished 2017), which examined some of the central ideas of her PhD, looked at the relationship of the live body and the projected image in contemporary art practices and included contributions by Alain Badiou and Elie During, Ian White, Lucy Reynolds and others. The book followed a programme of performances and artists’ commissions in London (Whitechapel Gallery and ICA, London), Bristol (Arnolfini) and Bath (Holburne Museum and other sites). Her own essay looked at how practices of dramaturgy and choreography alongside still and moving images offered new ways of considering the body in contemporary culture.
Her second major edited collection, published just before her untimely passing, was Fieldwork for Future Ecologies: Radical Practice for Art and Art-Based Research (2022), co-edited with Sam Nightingale and Polly Stanton. At once a handbook for research and practice and a philosophical speculation, this book addressed the role that art practice and art-based research plays in expanding notions of fieldwork. By focusing on a range of projects from across different geographic locations and situations, the book highlighted the crucial contribution that art can make to environmental and climate studies. Alongside some of Bridget’s colleagues (Simon O’Sullivan and Susan Schuppli), the book included contributions by A.S.T., Melody Jue, and Kreider + O’Leary.
Her other major scholarly contribution, which will sadly be published posthumously, is The Edinburgh Companion to Curatorial Futures. This new book consists of a collection of proposals and essays edited in collaboration with the curator Bassam El Baroni. Published by Edinburgh University Press, this new Companion cements Bridget’s long-standing interest in formulating new futures, whether those arising from the discrete and seemingly inconsequential aspects of life or those stemming from new forms of activism, ideas, and strategies. Across a series of carefully chosen and commissioned interventions and disruptions by curators, artists, writers, and theorists, Bridget and Bassam El Baroni attempt to rescue the future from the so-called “futures industries” and return it to a place of radical, liberatory, and nonnormative potential.
In her efforts to engage the body’s senses to perceive the world differently and give it new futures, Bridget coined a new expression: “practices of planetarity.” Her aim was not to merely push the body into a new relation with the Earth as a planet, but to uncover how many bodies (celestial and terrestrial) come together in sensing themselves, contaminating and enriching each other in equal measure. Behind her colourful cat-eye 1950s glasses, Bridget lived a unique life devoted not only to articulating our bodies anew, but also, most importantly, to push them in directions hereto unheard of. Such a care and inventiveness for making bodies (and minds) better in the face of radical adversity, are a testament of a uniquely creative soul that all here at Goldsmiths and beyond will greatly miss.
Bridget will always be lovingly remembered not only by the many colleagues, artists, collaborators, and students who met her, but also, above all, by her devoted partner, Sam Nightingale, and her beloved sister, Erica Crone.
A commemoration of Bridget’s life and work will take place at the launch of her edited book, Fieldwork for Future Ecologies. Further information about this event will be posted on the Department of Visual Cultures Facebook and Instagram pages.