Christiana’s pioneering studies of themes in British 19th century art draw on sources including artists’ writings, exhibition reviews, poetry and knowledge of the evolution of artistic processes. Together they offer new insights into the relationship between people and landscape, and what it can tell us about national identity, class relationships, scientific discovery and the growth of environmentalism.
Her research has inspired practising artists to work with her to co-create exhibitions exploring historic and contemporary treatments of a universal theme.
The Power of the Sea: Making Waves in British Art 1790-2014 was held at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol in 2014. The collaboration with Janette Kerr attracted more than 11,000 visitors over three months, with attendees labelling it ‘outstanding’ and ‘inspirational’. Such was its success that the RWA commissioned three further exhibitions: Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1767-2017 with artist Stephen Jacobsen, Fire: Flashes to Ashes in British Art 1692-2019 in partnership with Rachael Nee, and Earth, due to take place in 2023.
A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art (2017–2018), held at Higgins Bedford in 2018, attracted more than double the usual number of visitors to the town museum and generated its first national press coverage. Visitors reported being ’stimulated’ and ‘inspired’ by the exhibition, encouraging the museum to commission two further thematic exhibitions: Round and Round the Garden: A Celebration of Horticulture in British Art (2019) and Dreams and Nightmares (2019-20).