Special interest days

If you would like to explore a subject in more detail, then why not try a Special Interest day? You can find details of a number of popular days here, but if you don't see the topic that interests you listed, then please contact me.


The Most Serene Republic; Venice, and the Venetians, from Mud-flats to the Modern World.

Summary

This study day explores the building of Venice, from her origins to the current
efforts to protect her from the waters of the Venetian Lagoon.

Synopsis

Venice is a city like no other. Today she is one of Europe's most popular tourist
destinations and a World Heritage Site. But she has also been one of the world's
most brilliant trading nations, a great maritime power whose sailors and explorers
crossed the globe, while her merchants, painters and musicians (not to mention
courtesans), set standards of luxury and pleasure unknown elsewhere.

In this study day we look at the architecture and fabric of the city, rising
from unpromising mud-flats in a murky lagoon and overcoming remarkable
technological challenges, to become one of the most beautiful and powerful
nations of Renaissance Europe. We'll also consider how she survived when her
power base collapsed, transforming herself into a city of pleasure and becoming
a playground for the rich until, with Napoleon's dissolution of the thousand-year
old Venetian Republic, the city fell into a long decline.

But that is by no means the end of the story. Over recent decades Venice has
once again faced invading armies and insidious dangers – but this time the
armies are made up of tourists and the dangers come from the waters of her
own lagoon. We'll look at some of the ways in which she has tried to cope and at
the ideas put forward by world scientists to halt her gradual descent beneath the
waves.

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Donatello and the Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance – A Special Interest Day

Summary

Explore the life and work of one of the greatest Renaissance sculptors, set
against the background of fifteenth-century Florence.

Synopsis

Donatello may have been born over 600 years ago, but his sculpture is so powerful that it still speaks directly to us today. Working amidst the vibrant creativity of Florence in the fifteenth century, his works encompass every emotion from unalloyed joy and frivolity, through formal grandeur, to deeply personal religious conviction. A technical master, he broke new ground in the methods he used and the forms he chose to develop, leaving behind a legacy of works that seem startlingly modern.

In this study day we shall begin by looking at the artistic world of Florence around 1400, considering how new ideas shaped the way artists worked and why the city itself encouraged patronage and artistic expression. We'll look at Donatello's career from his apprenticeship to becoming the premier sculptor of the Florentine Republic and consider how developments in his art mirror new and exciting changes in painting and architecture during the period.

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A Family Affair – Florence and the House of Medici

Summary

The story of the Medici family and Florence, told through nearly 350 years worth
of art, architecture and tempestuous history.

Synopsis

The names 'Florence' and 'Medici' are inextricably linked with each other. From
the late 1300s to 1737 the family 'advised', ruled, were exiled, returned and
ruled again in Florence in continuing cycles, eventually stamping their authority
on the city with authoritarian firmness. At the same time they were responsible
for helping to create one of the most vibrant artistic centres of the Renaissance
and beyond. This is a story filled with larger-than-life characters and great art
alongside stirring historical events, occasional assassinations, and the eventual
decline of a remarkable dynasty.

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Raphael and Renaissance Rome

Summary

A chance to explore the life and work of one of the world's greatest artists, and
look at his influence on artists across the centuries.

Synopsis

Since his death in 1520, Raphael has been considered as one of the most
important painters of the Western World. In this day we'll explore the reasons
why his art was so important and ask how it was different from that of his
contemporaries. We'll also look at the cities of Urbino, Florence and Rome and
meet some of the most dramatic figures of the Renaissance Papacy. Lauded
as a celebrity during his life, Raphael achieved further greatness in death –
becoming the exemplar by which all artists were judged right up until the early
twentieth century. We'll look at his influence on artists from Velasquez, to
Picasso and beyond.

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How to be Good. Storytelling and Morality in Victorian Painting

Summary

This day explores some of the most popular paintings of the Victorian era,
and discovers the background to their creation and popularity.

Synopsis

In the 1850s the public were profoundly shocked by the work of a group of
young artists, who chose to show the realities of modern life in their canvases.
We'll explore the background to such works as Holman Hunt's 'The Awakening
Conscience', and see how their determination to show 'modern moral subjects'
changed the way the Victorians looked at paintings.

Full of cads, bounders and fallen women, this day looks at the social history of
the Victorian world through the pictures of the period.

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English Artists and Landscape in the 20th Century

Summary

Beginning with an overview of British landscape painting in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, this day offers a survey of twentieth century artists and their
responses to the British landscape.

Synopsis

This special interest day is devoted to English (and Welsh) artists and their
response to landscape in the twentieth century. Beginning with an over-view of
the tradition of English landscape painting during the 18th and 19th centuries, the
day continues with works by painters, sculptors and photographers, exploring
both the rural and urban landscape across the 20th century. As we move between
several strands and traditions of landscape art we shall see some of the same
artists from different perspectives, and meet some very different artworks that we
may not initially think of as part of the landscape tradition at all. With lots of old
favourites and plenty of variety, this is a chance to explore the art of landscape
from a different perspective.

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The Artist as Reporter – British Artists and the First World War – A Study Day

Summary

The images produced by Official War Artists during the First World War include
some of the most moving works of art of the twentieth – or indeed any – century.

Synopsis

This study day looks at the work of a group of young British war artists and
considers the ways in which they recorded this new and terrifying form of war in
a body of work still remarkable for its ability to move and shock. We'll consider
the ways in which their paintings were radically different from anything produced
before and see how their own personal experiences transformed their art. We
shall also look at some of the popular and propaganda images of the time, see
how the urge to commemorate the fallen produced some highly controversial
war memorials, and look at what happened to the young artists when Peace was
finally declared.

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Britain Observed – Artists and the Home Front in the Second World War

Summary

In the Second World War images of the Home Front and the British landscape
often became powerful agents in the struggle for victory.

Synopsis

In this study day we'll look at some of the ways in which artists worked for the
war effort in Britain between 1939 and 1945. Not all war art depicts battles and
engagements, and we'll focus particularly on a group of young painters who
were influenced by William Blake, Samuel Palmer and the tradition of British
landscape painting. Some of their works became an important part of the
country's fight for survival and still provide us with our most memorable images of
Britain at war.

We'll also look at artists who recorded everyday life in streets and factories, who
provided cartoons to instruct and entertain, and made posters for government
information campaigns. We'll consider the achievements of Sir Kenneth Clark
in protecting the artistic heritage of Britain during the Blitz and find out what did
happen to some of our greatest treasures during the War.

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Eric Ravilious & Edward Bawden; Art, Design, Friendship & War

Summary

In this study day we examine the life and work of Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and their friends and contemporaries, working as painters, printmakers and designers in the years before and after the Second World War, and as Official War Artists during the war itself.

Synopsis

Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden met at the Royal College of Art in London, in 1922 and became firm friends. Through the 1930s they became known for their skilful watercolours and innovative printmaking, as well as for making designs for London Transport and Wedgwood.

We’ll see how these young artists fared as students at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s, and as they made their way in the world as designers, printmakers and painters.  We’ll find out about the Recording Britain Project and the Official War Artists Scheme that came into play at the beginning of the Second World War, and meet some other war artists, including Paul Nash, John Piper and Evelyn Dunbar. With the end of the War, and the death of Eric Ravilious in 1942, we'll follow the work of his friends and contemporaries as they form the Great Bardfield group of artists and work on new forms of design, culminating in The Festival of Britain in 1951.

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