Alan Sorrell, (Archaeological) Artist and Illustrator

Prof Matthew Johnson and I have just received the fabulous news that we’ve been granted a Small Award from the British Academy to fund a pilot study of the Alan Sorrell archive.

Sorrell (1904-1974) is an artist and illustrator who, during the mid-20th century, produced defining images of many of Britain’s most renowned archaeological sites (e.g., see Sorrell, M. 1981), and in so doing, arguably shaped the institutional and epistemological dimensions of British archaeology.  With a neo-Romantic sensibility and a career that included employment by the former Ministry of Works, he stands at the junction between a series of potent intellectual concerns in the discipline—among others, between art and archaeology; academic and broader public consumption; discipline and imagination; and the scholarly establishment and governmental agency.

Sorrell’s archive is currently on loan by his family to the Society of Antiquaries of London.  Matthew and I will be studying it over the course of this upcoming fall and winter towards various ends, including the production of a small visual exhibition of work. Sorrell interacted with many archaeologists on and off site, and I would be keen to hear from those who may recollect such interactions.

Will keep you posted!

A screen shot of Alan Sorrell's Falling Tower, reprinted on the front cover of Johnson's 2nd edition of Archaeological Theory: An Introduction.

SORRELL, M. (ed.) 1981. Reconstructing the Past, London: Book Club Associates.