Programme Sep – Dec 2014

Byzantine-Christ_Pantocrator_Deesis_mosaic_Hagia_SophiaTHEME:  Byzantium and the Orient


Wednesday 3 September Imperial War Museum, London.

Art of WW!: Guided Tour by Dr Antonia Whitley
The largest exhibition of British First World War art for almost 100 years, this exhibition features over 100 paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings including work by some of Britain’s most important artists of the 20th century.

In the afternoon Dr Whitley will lead us on a tour, From Waterloo to Trafalgar.
What is referred to here is Waterloo, as in the railway station, to Trafalgar, as in the Square – a walk which will take in some wonderful pieces of sculpture that commemorate WW1. The walk is all on the flat, bar a few flights of steps, and is scenic and attractive. It should take a couple of hours and will include a stop for tea at the National Gallery. All you need is to be reasonably fit and to be prepared for all weather eventualities.

Wednesday 10 September (pm) Winchester Cathedral

Modern Art in Winchester Cathedral: Guided Tour
The church has been a great patron of the arts in the past and this tradition continues at Winchester Cathedral. This tour will look at art from the 1920s to the present day by some of Britain’s best known artists, sculptors, and craftsmen and women.

After this tour, we will have a presentation from the Dean of Winchester, the Very Reverend James Atwell, about the commissioning, design and making of The Winchester Tapestries These new tapestries for the High Altar were designed by the artist Maggi Hambling and made at the Ateliers Pinton in the Aubusson region of France – the workshop that wove the great tapestry hanging behind the altar of Coventry Cathedral.

Wednesday 17 September 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Metamorphoses in Modern Sculpture: Mary Acton

There is no doubt that modern sculpture has changed radically; it has moved from carving and modelling to construction and installation, using new materials, the found object and the so-called ready-made. However, traditional subjects like the human figure have remained important allowing for sculpture to move between tradition and innovation in often unexpected ways. This seminar will explore continuities, contradictions, and innovations in modern sculpture from about 1900 to the present day, including artists such as Naum Gabo, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore, Rachel Whiteread and Antony Gormley.

Wednesday 1 October 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Tales of Eccentric Exemplars: Visual Narratives in Chan Buddhist Paintings from 13-14th century China: Malcolm McNeill

Chan Buddhism, more widely known through its Japanese incarnation of Zen, was one of the most animated and expressive sources of subject matter for the painters of Southern Song and Yuan dynasty China (1127-1368). The Chan pantheon was given form in the expressive brush strokes of artists from the cloisters of Chan monasteries, imperial courts. and elite literati society. Unlike much of the iconography of earlier Chinese Buddhism, these figures were anything but static. Chan masters bested Confucian officials in bouts of witty wordplay, crossed great rivers and mountain ranges in miraculous feats that mirrored their spiritual accomplishments, and found enlightenment in the mundane tasks and occurrences of the everyday. This talk will explore the visual narratives through which Chan’s eccentric exemplars evolved and developed in Song and Yuan China. Through an exploration of variation in pictorial style and content, alongside translations of the prose and verse inscribed upon and alongside the paintings, we see the variety of meanings these images held for the lives of secular and clerical audiences.

Wednesday 15 October 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Art and Power in Tokugama Japan: the Kano School of Painting: Dr Meri Arichi

Dr Arichi will focus on a particular aspect of the art of the Tokugawa period of Japan, that is from 1614 to the period when the country opened up to the West. While there have been a number of exhibitions showing the woodblock prints of Utamoro, Hokusai and Hiroshige in the west the official ‘high’ art of the Tokugama society – that approved of and patronised by the Shogunate – is much less familiar. Dr Arichi will discuss the function of art as an expression of power, wealth and authority, using the examples of sliding door paintings in palaces and temples. The sliding door panel painting is a distinctively Japanese format, extensively used for interior decoration in Japan, but because they are large and cumbersome, there are very few examples in the western museums.

Wednesday 22 October Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Study visit and guided tours of the museum’s Japanese and Islamic art collections

We will travel by coach to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where we will have a presentation by Dr. Clare Pollard, the Japanese Curator, followed by guided tours of the Japanese and Islamic collections.

Wednesday 12 November 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Enamelled and Gilded Glass between Byzantium and the East: Tanja Tolar

The beautiful and colourful painterly technique of Islamic enamelling on glass has been for decades a focus of glass research, yet many questions relating to its origin and production persist. Traditionally linked to Syria and Egypt, dated to Ayyubid and Mamluk patronage, the large corpus of glass objects and numerous fragments has no strict chronology. Until recently, when the well known gilded bottle in the British Museum was connected to the famous blue glass bottles of Byzantine production, the involvement of Byzantium in enamelled and gilded glass production has been difficult to trace. In the late 12th and early 13th century, the technical features of Byzantine glass seem to be elaborated in the rich iconography from Seljuk art which, after the collapse of Constantinople, brought into play a new visual world with typical Islamic iconographic motifs (dancers, musicians and different animals) on glass, while Italian mercantile activities fostered dissemination of luxury glass objects across the eastern Mediterranean and beyond. We will look at some exquisite enamelled and gilded glass objects of the period and raise questions of historical narratives, while close connections with contemporary objects in other media such as ceramics and metal, will also be discussed.

Wednesday 19 November

Victoria and Albert Museum, London (am): Study visit and tour of the Byzantine and Islamic Art Collections

Leighton House Museum, London (pm): Guided tour

We will visit the Jewellery Gallery to view Byzantine Jewellery with Curator, Clare Phillips, followed by visits to the Byzantine and Islamic galleries. In the afternoon, we will have a guided tour of Leighton House, home and studio of Frederick, Lord Leighton, the eminent Victorian painter. On his visits to Turkey, Egypt and Syria, Leighton collected textiles, pottery and other objects. The so-called Arab Hall in the house is clad with 15th and 16th century tiles from Damascus.

Wednesday 3 December 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

The Glories of Byzantium: Jane Angelini

The importance of the role played by Byzantium as a link in the great chain of world history is an important theme. With its roots firmly in the Ancient World of Greece and Rome the Byzantine period – AD 330-1453 – spans the medieval centuries. While much of the West was in deep decline, Byzantium, mistress of the Mediterranean and centre of Christendom, was a symbol of wealth, power and cultural ascendancy. It was here, in the eastern Mediterranean that Christianity, took root and spread, giving us the architectural forms and imagery that are still a part of the faith. We will look at some of the art of Byzantium which is rich in mosaics, frescoes and icons, opulent liturgical vessels in gold and enamel, silks, ivories, manuscripts and centrally planned domed churches, designed as microcosms of the Universe.

Wednesday 10 December 10:30 – 12:30, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Part 1 – Byzantium on Arno: Dr Antonia Whitley

Dante, who was brought up in Florence, referred to the Baptistry as ‘my beloved San Giovanni’. The monumental ceiling mosaic cycle here is surely one of the great monuments to the cross-fertilization of artistic styles and ideas of the period. Yet when we reflect on the Renaissance and on the prevailing artistic influences of that period, we are conditioned to thinking of comparisons between what was happening in Italy and what was happening in Flanders. In this talk, we are going to look East/West instead of North/South – that is, Christian West and Byzantium. Through the prism of art in Tuscany, the focus is on the Eastern origins of the rebirth of art for it is via the Italian Renaissance that Byzantine art enters the mainstream of European art, not in mosaic but in painting.

Part 2 – The King, the Whig, his horse and the painter: Carol Orchard

A personal response to one of the National Gallery’s iconic paintings – Whistlejacket by George Stubbs – and to the people associated with it.