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27th November 2019

Is it art?: Nancy Rothwell looking at things

In this Is it Art? Chess Bradley examines whether the blog, Nancy Rothwell Looking at Things, is art.
Is it art?: Nancy Rothwell looking at things
She’s Looking at You Photo credit: The University of Manchester

Confession: I don’t know what a Vice-Chancellor does, and at this point, I’m afraid to ask.

All I know is Nancy Rothwell earns a wage that even a Question Time audience member in Bolton would consider being in the top 50% of earnings.

A short-lived Tumblr blog (RIP) from May 2012, however, has confirmed my suspicions: Nancy Rothwell is paid over a quarter of a million quid per annum (!!!!!) to look at things.

Nancy Rothwell looking at things demonstrates that curation is an art. The blog begins with her ‘looking at boxes’, an image I personally find baffling. Where was this image taken? Is this workshop on campus? It looks like a truly horrifying place. Are these the kind of places that STEM students have to spend their time? A dingy basement-like room with half-arsed Halloween decorations and boomboxes on the wall? I’m digressing, but I’m also concerned.

This blog also demonstrates that our own Professor Dame Nancy is a rather stoic character, most of the time only slightly upturning her mouth to express (probably) positive emotions to what she sees, whether that be a tractor or a table. Only twice does she give us a full smile. One: when directly facing a camera (a PR dream). Two: When facing a selection of cupcakes. The only possible conclusion is this: the only true joy for Nance is a calorific cake. And babes, I’m with you there.

The blog concludes with an image of the Dame prof in front of the Queen. Is this a curational choice; that the grandest of things to look at is our head of state? Or is it that the blog has been silenced by the University, explaining the consistent lack of notes (not one pornbot like? I find that truly suspicious)? All I know is that our Nance sure does a lot of looking.

Verdict: 100% no doubt, pure, unadulterated art.

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