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Above: The newly unveiled bust of Burns watches expectantly as the conference begins to proceed.

As a follow-up to the recent feature on the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, what follows is my own experience of the annual Robert Burns Conference held at Glasgow University and organised in conjunction with partners of the DNBC.

Below: Dr Pauline Mackay, Research Fellow for ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century introduces the next speaker.

There were a broad range of speakers presenting papers on all aspects of Burns life, and in particular the culture which Burns inhabited. Topics ranged from farming life (Gavin Sprott from the National Museum of Scotland), to a rare glimpse into the world of the private collector with Dr Bill Zachs. Unfortunately, Andrew Presscott from UCL was unable to make the conference, but was ably replaced by Prof. Gerry Carruthers and his entertaining look into Freemasonry and Burns.

To ensure the conference wasn’t completely left to the device of academics, local councils had the chance to show off rare and previously unseen Burns ‘artefacts’ from their collections. During this segment, I had the opportunity to showcase Dumfries Museums upcoming exhibition ‘Burns and Graham – A Poet and his Patron’ (Burns House, Saturday 21st January – Sunday 15th April).

Below: Kirsten Easdale relaxes after entertaining the conference with some of Burns’ songs.

Above: Delegates enjoying a chance to relax and chat.

I have to admit, before starting work on the Burns Recognition Project my experience of Burns had been rather limited. However, attending the ‘Artefact’ Conference allowed me to gain further insight into the fascinating world which surrounds the life and times of the bard. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Burns Conference and look forward to seeing what exciting strides have been made by this time next year.

Click on the image below to hear another of the conference speakers, Clark McGinn, speaking on BBC Scotland’s Newsweek about the final days of Robert Burns.