Programme Sep – Dec 2021
As a trial offering and in order to make the programme of events accessible to as many WAHG members as possible, it is intended that this season’s seminars will be available simultaneously as face-to-face meetings in the Winchester Discover Centre and online via Zoom.
These arrangements depend on national and local COVID-19 regulations and are subject to last minute changes.
Theme for Sep – Dec 2021 – The Art of Dissent
The intention behind the theme is to examine art that has been produced by artists over time and in different parts of the world to draw attention to problematic issues particular to them in their time and place. These issues include war, occupation or incarceration, politics, poor social conditions or the environment, sexism, racism or colonialism. The techniques range from painting through prints and cartoons to photography, collages, installations and performance art. We investigate some of this art and examine how it was used to protest either overtly or more subtly against the prevailing conditions.
Wednesday 8 September 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
Art, Repression and Dissent in China: Ai Weiwei and his Contemporaries
Illustrated seminar by Barry Venning
Contemporary art was viewed with extreme hostility by the Chinese authorities throughout the cultural revolution and beyond. In spite of this, Chinese modern art burgeoned in the 1980s alongside China’s economic reform and opening-up. The artists themselves, however, remained politically and socially marginalized, often living together on the fringes of society in artist villages. In the last two decades, the Chinese government sought to capitalise on the growing reputation of its modern artists. Rather than closing the villages down as they did after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, they designated them ‘creative industries’ precincts’ and subjected them to sophisticated official controls. This seminar considers the work of artists who resisted control. The most celebrated of them, Ai Weiwei, was arrested, imprisoned, beaten and driven into exile by the Chinese authorities. There are many others who risk the wrath of the Chinese state without his global profile, including the carefully coded resistance of Liu Wei, the ‘Cynical Realism’ of Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun, the provocations of the artistic duo, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, and the environmental protests of Wang Renzheng a.k.a. “Nut Brother”. And, of course, dissident art in its most urgent form has played a major part in the Hong Kong protests, in the work of artists such as Harcourt Romanticist and Three Hands Monkey, who use pseudonyms to remain anonymous and avoid arrest.
Tuesday 14 – Friday 17 September 2021: Art and Architecture of Glasgow
Tour details circulated separately
Wednesday 6 October 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 16th Century Works
Illustrated seminar by Toby Ferris
In the centuries following his death in 1569, Pieter Bruegel the Elder was regarded, if he was remembered at all, as a painter of quaint peasant scenes, a genre painter. But his brief career had played out at a time of accelerating religious and political turmoil in the history of the Southern Netherlands, a period marked by rebellion, repression, and iconoclasm, and which culminated in the outbreak of the war for independence from Hapsburg Spain just months after Bruegel’s death.
While Bruegel’s personal religious and political allegiances remain unclear, his religious and political engagement is evident in his depictions of, for example, the Tower of Babel, Spanish armies crossing the Alps, and massacres in Flemish villages.
In this talk, we will look at Bruegel as a political artist who drew on the intellectual inheritance of Erasmus and the carnivalesque inheritance of Rabelais in creating his own cryptic and idiosyncratic form of artistic resistance.
Wednesday 20 October 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
“Truth has died”; Goya’s women – Goya in the 19th Century
Illustrated seminar by Dr Jacqueline Cockburn
Goya understood people from all walks of life, choosing to portray the rich and the poor with equal truth. His psychological insights are visible in his portraits, not just in terms of physiognomy but also in the brush stroke itself. This lecture will focus on the women in his life. His wife Josefa is rarely portrayed but, during the early part of his career, many young women appear from their balconies or beneath their parasols on brightly coloured tapestries and canvasses. Life at court under Charles IV will afford him many subjects; most notably the Queen Maria Luisa herself and her great rival the Duchess of Alba. However, the political backdrop and the terrible sights he claims to see first-hand during the Peninsular War, provide a different image of women; capricious witches, ruthless heroines, women struggling to stay alive. His world view was indeed darkened by famine, cruelty and poverty and a denial of a new enlightened country under King Ferdinand VII. Through the lens of Goya’s women, we see his cynical dissent, his loneliness and his decision that truth has died.
Wednesday 3 November 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
18th Century Political Satire – William Hogarth and James Gillray
Illustrated seminar by Martin Rowson
William Hogarth and James Gillray between them helped define the 18th century as an era of rumbustious, no-holds-barred, brutal and earthy satire, which ran through the century of the Enlightenment like an open sewer. Described by the great 20th century cartoonist David Low as the grandfather and father of the political cartoon respectively, this illustrated talk will place Hogarth and Gillray in the context of their times, where satire helped define Britain following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Martin Rowson will also describe their role in journalism, politics, art, Georgian trolling, gin, plum puddings and how we hold the mighty to account by dragging them down to the gutter along with the rest of us. The talk promises to be as filthy as the things its subjects depicted.
Wednesday 17 November 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
Political Cartoonists of the 20th and 21st Century
Illustrated seminar by Emma Stirling-Middleton
“as a nation we have found the cartoon art form to be a vital dimension and an integral part of our culture and history.”
“A museum would house an immensely valuable record of social and political history. To coin a phrase, ‘All human life is there’”
In 1988, a group of cartoonists and collectors came together as The Cartoon Art Trust, a registered charity, with the aim of founding a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, promoting and preserving the best of British cartoon art.
After a decade of exhibiting in smaller venues, in February 2006 the Cartoon Museum opened to the public at its first permanent home in Bloomsbury, London. Housed in a converted dairy off Museum Street, it was Britain’s first museum of cartoons. In 2019 the museum moved to a new home in Fitzrovia.
Today the Museum holds a collection of over 6,000 original cartoon and comic artworks and a library of over 18,000 books and comics dating from the 1700s to the present day. The collection is home to the most successful cartoonists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including William Heath Robinson, H.M. Bateman, Pont, Gerald Scarfe, Ronald Searle, Giles, Martin Rowson, Steve Bell, Ralph Steadman, Posy Simmonds, Cath Jackson and many more. Together, their works are a unique and fascinating lens through which to explore the art of dissent in British history.
This lecture will explore the history of political cartoonists in the 20th and 21st centuries via an illustrated journey through some of the treasures of this unique and important collection.
Wednesday 24 November 2021: Visit to the Cartoon Museum, London
Details to be circulated separately
Wednesday 1 December 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
American Protest Art and Photography of the 1930s
Illustrated seminar by Dr Jan Cox
The 1930s were a turbulent decade in the USA, aggravated by the Great Depression, an unprecedented drought in the plains states, racial unrest and union militancy. Much of the American public turned a blind eye to the growth of Fascism in Europe, but artists like Peter Blume, Philip Guston and Mabel Dwight strove to raise awareness. It was also a decade of tension between the Regionalists (Wood, Benton and Curry) who wanted to stay close to American traditionalism and artists like Stuart Davis who wanted to incorporate the European avant-garde into American art. William H. Johnson and Aaron Douglas raised the profile of black American artists and there were explicit left-wing depictions by Joe Jones, Louis Guglielmi and Alice Neel.
It was arguably America’s finest decade for reportage photography: Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Walker Evans captured the plight of the dustbowl, race relations, and the rural poor. Soil erosion and the resultant migration were key subjects that led to iconic images. This subject was also filmed by Pare Lorentz (1936; The Plough that Broke the Plains). Other topics included the legacy of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti and the shocking death toll on America’s roads. The Federal Art Project was a lifeline to many artists in the ‘30s but opposed by Edward Hopper who strongly resented state intervention.
Wednesday 8 December 2021, 10.30-12.30, Winchester Discovery Centre and online via Zoom
Illustrated seminar by Emily Brady
In 1864, abolitionist Sojourner Truth sat before an unknown photographer. Truth had been born into slavery, and by 1864 was an active campaigner to end the institution of slavery in the United States. Her portrait, which shows her sat facing the camera, was displayed alongside the phrase “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance”. Within this phrase, Truth asserted her own agency and her own control of her image: by selling her image, Truth could both spread awareness of and raise funds for her abolitionist cause. In her own words, Truth stated that she “used to be sold for other people’s benefit, but now she sold herself for her own”.
Today, the issue of modern slavery continues to impact millions of people around the globe. The visual culture surrounding abolition is in some ways directly reminiscent of the past – as campaigns continue to focus on historical signifiers of slavery – and in other ways differs significantly – as labour exploitation is rendered more invisible than ever before. In this seminar, we will explore both contemporary and historical representations of enslavement through photography, exploring both the aesthetics and ethics of visualising slavery.
Followed by WAHG Christmas Party