Rhian Addison McCreanor

Career summary

I am currently an AHRC collaborative PhD student between the University of York and Tate Britain. My research focuses on landscape artists’ studios in London, between 1780 and 1850.  I have a particular interest in the representation of landscape artists, their studios and the use of landscapes in portraits and self-portraits.


My most recent post was as Curator (Historic Fine Art) at the Whitworth, University of Manchester where I curated Cozens and Cozens and South Asian Modernists, 1953-63. I was formerly Assistant Curator at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village where I project managed the exhibition programme and cared for the permanent collection. I curated multiple exhibitions including Liberation Fashion: Aesthetic Dress in Victorian Portraits and Close Up & Personal: Victorians & Their Photographs. In 2016 I completed my AMA with the Museum Association.

Areas of interest / research

Although my thesis was initially focused on the creation and display of landscapes, portraiture has become a key resource in my PhD research. I am interested in the representation of landscape artists, their studios and practice, and how landscapes are used within portraiture.

I also have an ongoing interest in the use of body parts in portraiture, including the use of the breast in portraits of Elizabeth I. Did the breasts manipulation and representation serve a role as the codpiece and elbow did? Was its representation for corporeal, aesthetic or symbolic purposes? Fast forward three hundred years, I have also done extensive research into the neck as the epitome of beauty for G F Watts who used the neck as a tool for expression in his paintings. From my curatorial practice I also have experience and interest in portraiture within Victorian photography and South Asian modernism.

Details of books/publications relating to your work on British portraiture

Addison, R, ”The Up-springing Stem of the Neck’ in G. F. Watts’s Paintings’, Visual Culture in Britain, 30 March 2020 DOI: 10.1080/14714787.2020.1735946

Addison, R. ‘Liberating Fashion: The Aesthetic Portraits of G F Watts’, in Rhian Addison and Hilary Underwood, Liberating Fashion: Aesthetic Dress in Victorian Portraits (Compton: Watts Gallery, 2015)