Professor Gabriel Gee has had a long-term interest in British contemporary art. He began researching for Art in the North of England, 1979-2008 as part of his 2008 doctoral dissertation at the Université Paris X, France, and always intended to publish a version in English. The ideas developed in his dissertation matured over the following years, fuelling a new work, which is not a mere translation but an expansion of the initial text. Each chapter opens with an in-depth discussion of a specific artwork that unfolds into a reflection on the broader artistic landscapes of northern England.
Gee looks at artistic production in the regions of the North East, Yorkshire and North West England, focusing primarily on urban art scenes in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He studies the nature and evolution of art production in these cities, the role of their museum and gallery infrastructures, and their relations to the charged socio-political and economic context following the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
Gee looks at the dramatic deindustrialization taking place in the second half of the twentieth century in cities, which were at the heart of a national and global industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. This geographical and historical context brought artists in the North of England to focus on issues that Gee sees as relevant beyond the shores of Britain in what he calls our contemporary ‘trans-industrial’ condition, interlocked in between industrial and post-industrial cultures.
In addition to his work at Franklin, Gee conducts interdisciplinary research on trans-industriality through the Textures & Experiences of Trans-Industriality (TETI) group. This group promotes research that combines approaches stemming from the fields of art history, architecture, contemporary art, urban development, cultural heritage studies, social/cultural anthropology, sociology, economy and politics.