Programme Jan – Jun 2013

El_Tres_de_Mayo,_by_Francisco_de_Goya,_via_WikiMedia_CommonsTHEME:  Art and Politics


Wednesday 16th January, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre.

Seeing Signs and Deciphering Symbols:   Dr Antonia Whitley
Everyone knows that an olive branch is a symbol of peace and that the apple is associated with the Fall of Man but what did a bowl of cherries signify? Or a peacock? Or a goldfinch? This seminar considers the hidden language of objects in paintings – once understood by every European spectator from the Middle Ages down to the Enlightenment – and will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of works of art in the early modern period.

Wednesday 23rd January, 11am Visit to the National Gallery

Guided by Dr Antonia Whitley this will be an opportunity to view and discuss signs
and symbols in a range of paintings in the gallery’s permanent collection.
Headsets will be provided to ensure full enjoyment of the visit.
Please note: Numbers are limited to 20.

Wednesday 13th February, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

William Morris and his Legacy:   Mary Greensted
William Morris, born in 1834, was a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm,
one of the outstanding figures of nineteenth-century Britain. His influence was
felt in the fields of design, practical craftwork, politics, printing, literature and
poetry. Contemporary accounts from the 1880s remarked on his shaggy
dishevelled head of hair, his vigorous restlessness, his shirt of bright blue, and –
on some occasions – his indigo blue hands stained from the dyeing vat. Morris
believed that art was an essential element in life and should be accessible to
everyone. This seminar will focus on Morris’s role as a craftsman and designer
and the importance of his firm, Morris and Company. We will also look at how his
love of old work and his dismay at the ugliness, shoddiness, commercialism and
injustice in Victorian Britain led him to promote social justice and environmental
issues. Morris’s inspiration has continued up to the present day, with succeeding
generations focusing on different elements of his work.

Wednesday 27th February, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

Art Nouveau 1900:   Dr. Anne Anderson
In 1900 Art Nouveau was at its apogee in Paris, Nancy, Brussels, Barcelona,
Glasgow and Vienna. This seminar focuses on the designers working in France
and Belgium: Alphonse Mucha, the premier poster designer; Rene Lalique, who
produced the finest jewellery; Hector Guimard, the creator of the Paris Metro;
Victor Horta, who fashioned the first Art Nouveau house in 1893, and Emile Galle,
the glass designer who led L’Ecole Nancy. The French and Belgian schools
adopted the ‘whiplash’ line and took Woman as the embodiment of Nature to
create a style for the new century. Curving undulated forms fashioned figurines,
furniture, ceramics, glass and jewellery, as well as embellishing entire interiors.
Rejected by the English, as it was seen to be hedonistic, decadent, and even
morally corrupting, Art Nouveau was condemned for being no more than mere
decoration. It was decried as commercial, pandering to popular taste and
reducing art to fashion. But Art Nouveau embraced modernity using the latest
technologies, especially electric light. It expressed the anxieties of the era,
especially those aroused by progress and the spectre of the New Woman.

Wednesday 6th March, 2pm, Visit to Winchester College.

An opportunity to view the extensive collection of watercolours at the College and
to the College Treasury which houses the Duberley Collection of Chinese Art, the
College collection of Greek vases, as well as other antiquities. We will be guided
by John Falconer and College students.
Please note: Numbers are limited to 20.

Wednesday 20th March, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

Art as politics in late medieval and Renaissance Sienna:  Dr Antonia Whitley
Siena’s heyday has been associated -in the public’s perception- with a particular
tranche of her history that corresponds to the late 13C/mid 14C, when she was
ruled by the régime of the ‘Nove’ (= the Nine). The historian William Bowsky has
drawn a vivid picture of the ability of this faction, their civic pride and their
uncommon financial skills. Because the Nove were merchant bankers, they
generally provided Siena with a balanced budget, a truly extraordinary feat in
those days. Furthermore during their rule, Siena was run with remarkable care
and competence. The city became prosperous enabling it to commission works of
art by the most outstanding native artists of the day.
We will focus in particular on two institutions at the heart of medieval Siena; the
Palazzo Pubblico and the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. At the first, we
examine the frescoes of ‘Good and Bad Government’ and those associated with
political idealism, surely some of the most evocative imagery created in 14C Italy;
while at the second, the fresco cycle painted in the 15C, proclaimed to all who
entered the building, the range of services the hospital had to offer. This cycle
sought to impart how well the hospital was managed, much as, one hundred
years earlier, the city’s rulers had sought to express the ideal political state in the
frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti at the Palazzo Pubblico.

Wednesday 27th March, 11am, Visit to the Royal Academy

A group visit to the exhibition Manet: Portraying Life. The first major exhibition in
the UK to showcase Edouard Manet’s portraiture. It explores Manet’s world and
the landscape of nineteenth century Parisian society and includes 50 paintings
spanning the artist’s career together with a selection of pastels and contemporary

Wednesday 17th April, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

David, Ingres and Goya: art in the service of politics:  Beth Taylor
During the revolutionary period in France (1789-99), the neo-classical artist
Jacques-Louis David paid “the homage of my brushes” to the heroism and virtue
of the republican government. David, who had been a Deputy during the
Revolution, was later appointed as Napoleon’s official painter, recording events
such as his coronation. His pupil, Ingres, received commissions for portraits of
Napoleon and as a history painter produced works which drew parallels between
Roman and Napoleonic history.
The Spanish painter and print maker, Francisco Jose Goya produced works for
the Spanish court from 1774, including portraits of court members and the royal
family. His official portrait of the family of Charles IV demonstrated the powerful
position of his Queen, the notorious Maria Luisa. By 1808 Spain was occupied by
Napoleon’s forces, followed by the Peninsular War. His support for Spanish
nationalism produced paintings depicting events in the widespread rebellion
against the seizure of the Spanish throne by Napoleon.
Goya’s respect for truth and the impact of what he witnessed was marked in the
print series Disasters of War.
In this seminar we will look closely at how political messages were embedded in
some key works by these artists.

Wednesday 8th May, 10.30 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

Dada and Surrealism: radical avant garde art:  Beth Taylor
In this seminar, we will look at the way in which some European avant garde
artists reacted to the realities of WW1, its aftermath and the lead up to WW2 in
their work. The Dada movement was launched by performances at the Cabaret
Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, By 1918 it had extended to Berlin where, amidst the
economic collapse of a defeated Germany, it was highly politicised. Known as
‘Club Dada’, artists spurned traditional painting in favour of photomontage. In
Hamburg, Kurt Schwitters pioneered a form of collage using urban detritus.
Cologne provided a further variation in the work of Max Ernst. In Paris Dada art
was led by Picabia and Duchamp.
Surrealism, Dada’s artistic heir, was born in 1924. Committed to the view that
human nature was fundamentally irrational, and drawn to the ‘uncanny’. Surrealist
artists like Ernst, Magritte, Dali and Miro were influenced by Freud’s theories of
the unconscious and of dreams. French surrealists were opposed to capitalism
and National Socialism, many joining the French Communist Party in the lead up
to WW2.

Wednesday 15th May , 10.00 – 12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

WAHG Annual General meeting 10-11am, followed by:
Artists of worldwide Revolution: the Utopian Globalists from Tatlin to
Christo: Professor Jonathan Harris
In the margins of the history of politically revolutionary twentieth century western
art subsists a lineage of artists committed to a form of aesthetic and social
radicalism inspired by utopian ideals and values. Though this tradition intersects
with the well-known socialist realists, Dadaists and the surrealists who supported
the USSR in the 1930s, its elements are more diverse in terms of both their forms
and practices of work and affiliations. The lineage reaches from Tatlin – the
‘dreaming’ constructivist of the Russian Revolution – to the visionary wrapping
projects carried out by Christo and Jean-Claude up to the mid 1990s. In this
seminar Professor Harris will explain the Utopian Globalist lineage and outline
some of its major exponents who also included Joseph Beuys, John Lennon &
Yoko Ono, Douglas Huebler and Robert Smithson.

Wednesday 22nd May, 11am Visit to Southampton City Art Gallery

A guided tour Of the British Surrealist Art holdings at the Gallery, led by Tim
Craven, Lead Curator.
Please note: numbers are limited to 15.

Wednesday 12th June, 10.30-12.30pm, Winchester Discovery Centre

Art in the Open Air: Artists’ gardens and sculpture parks:  Melanie Paice
Sculpture Parks provide an excellent way to enjoy art and the landscape at the
same time. Discover what led to their development, how the Forestry
Commission have used them to encourage visitors to take a fresh look at their
environment and how they are still evolving today as we look at sites such as the
Grizedale Forest, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Cass Sculpture Foundation.
Artists have also used their own gardens as another means of expression to
explore and experiment. Find out about the gardens of Ian Hamilton Finlay and
Barbara Hepworth among others. This seminar will discuss venues all over
Britain looking at art in the open air and introduce you to some places you will
wish to visit again and again.