Friday 22 March 2019

The Arts Society, North East Area are holding a Study day on The Theatre Royal York: Past, Present and Future

Click here for details of the Study Day and click here to reserve places.


William Morris and Burne-Jones: Devoting their Lives to Art

by Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper

Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper is Research Curator for ‘Turner, Ruskin and the Storm Cloud of the Modern world’, a major loan exhibition opening at York Art Gallery in Spring 2019. This exhibition commemorates the bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth in February 1819.

Suzanne is a writer, broadcaster and curator who spent 12 years at the V&A Museum, researching the Victorian collections. As an expert on 19th and 20th century British art, she is in demand as a lecturer for the Arts Society, and as an invited speaker for Cunard voyages. She is an historical consultant for the BBC and Channel 4, and advised Ralph Fiennes on his film, ‘The Invisible Woman’, about Dickens and the actress Ellen Ternan.

Suzanne’s books include ‘Pre-Raphaelite Art in the V&A Museum’ and ‘The Victorian Woman’. Her biography of ‘Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, Ruskin and Millais’, was the official publication for Emma Thompson’s film, ‘Effie Gray’, released in 2014.

Edward Burne-Jones, Days of Creation window (detail), Harris Manchester College, 1890s

To coincide with the major Tate Britain exhibition, Edward Burne-Jones (Oct 22nd 2018-Feb 24th 2019), this study day will look at the work of Burne-Jones and his life-long friend, William Morris. Suzanne Fagence Cooper is particularly interested in the decorative arts – tapestries, beautiful books & stained glass – made by the artists together, and with other colleagues. (She has contributed the essay on ‘Burne-Jones as a Designer’ for the Tate exhibition publication).

Using first-hand accounts from the artists and their friends, the first lecture shows how the two men met in Oxford, and looks at their joint enthusiasm for Gothic art and architecture. It considers their relationship with slightly older figures, including the Pre-Raphaelites like Rossetti, and the art critic, John Ruskin. It highlights significant projects including the work for the Green Dining Room at the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) which brought them to public attention. Then she provides a survey of Morris’s career as a maker, manager and poet.

The second lecture explores the paintings and stained glass productions of Edward Burne-Jones. It looks at favourite themes, including Arthurian legend, fairy tales, and Chaucer’s poems, and charts the development of his works, from embroidery designs or tile paintings, to large-scale oil paintings.

The final lecture concentrates on the joint ventures created by Morris and Burne-Jones, particularly tapestries like the ‘Holy Grail’ series, and major stained glass commissions, including the ‘Last Judgement’ window for Birmingham Cathedral. It closes with an examination of their ‘beautiful books’ – from calligraphic experiments in the 1880s, to the masterpieces of the Kelmscott Press, with the extraordinary creation of the complete Kelmscott Chaucer. As William Morris insisted, ‘My work is the embodiment of dreams’.

Please click this link to download an application form for the Morris and Burne-Jones study day.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

By Guy Rooker FRCS

Study for the Kneeling Leda at Chatsworth

Guy Rooker’s background, perhaps unusually for an Arts Society Lecturer, is not in the Arts but the world of science in general and surgery in particular. He describes himself as a retired orthopaedic surgeon with a lifelong passion, fascination and admiration for the work of Leonardo da Vinci. He considers Leonardo’s contribution to the world of Art and the investigation of scientific concepts to be quite unique and extraordinary; so many of his pioneering investigations have contributed to the understanding of our world today.

This study day focuses on Leonardo da Vinci, painter and draughtsman of the High Renaissance, whose works were informed by scientific investigation. The structure of the day consists of three sequential lectures covering his life and works.

Leonardo, who had no formal education, observed the world closely describing nature as his teacher. He believed that art was based on a scientific interpretation of everything depicted.

Leonardo’s productivity as an artist was poor with less than twenty paintings in his working lifetime a number of which remain unfinished. These will be reviewed together with his compositional approach, depth of image, experimentation with traditional methods of representation, and techniques of tenebrism, sfumato and chiaroscuro.

Leonardo believed that art was based on a scientific understanding of everything depicted and that accurate representation depended on him getting under the skin and into the mind of his subjects. He also believed that the hand could be as expressive as the face and acknowledged that this was the organ through which an artist expressed himself.  He was the first to produce extraordinarily accurate drawings of human anatomy which form the basis of all modern medical practice.

Leonardo used his talents of draughtsmanship and astute sense of observation in his scientific drawings making an incredible contribution to our early understanding of anatomy, cartography, warfare, flight, and engineering to name but a few. It would take centuries of scientific investigation and technology to catch up with his thoughts.

Leonardo would not have been able to achieve so much had he been born earlier.  He was the right man in the right place at the right time.  He was justifiably described by Kenneth Clarke as the most relentlessly curious man of all time.

Click here to download an application form.

Virgin and Child with St Anne
The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist