History of Art wowed by Tate Britain

October 3, 2016

Last Friday (30 September), we were treated to a day of university lectures and gallery seminars by staff of the History of Art department at the University of Sussex.

It was hugely inspiring to listen to world-renowned experts talk about a variety of aspects of the subject and in particular, to some fantastic themed seminars informed by the works of art in the gallery.

Here’s what two pupils thought of the day:

A study day in History of Art at Tate Britain was an extremely interesting experience! A combination of lectures and gallery sessions gave a great insight into what it is like to study History of Art at university.

The first lecture was about understanding art and was followed by a gallery session on landscapes where we looked at a couple of examples and analysed them along the way. This was followed by another lecture on objects and their questions where we explored how important the context is and how there is so much more to think about while looking at an art object.

The second gallery session was on portraiture where we looked at David Hockey’s double portraits and analysed them, exploring the relationship between the characters in the paintings and between the characters and the viewer.

The last lecture was on general topic of art history and served as an introduction to the Art History course at the university. Our last gallery session was on the representation of women in the nineteenth century and linked back to the first lecture. In the morning, we had been talking about a painting – A portrait of Madame X – in the context of understanding art and its purposes, whereas later we’ve looked at how it linked to other themes. It was fascinating to see one piece of art from all these different perspectives.

The lecturers were really engaging and willing to listen to our opinions, were open to new interpretations of the art works and welcomed questions throughout the day. It was an incredible opportunity and I am really glad that I took it. It gave me a chance to have a deeper look into art history and how difference of meaning and representation affects our way of thinking and the way we engage with art.

Anna (I)

On the Friday of Exeat, LVI IB and A Levels students of History of Art were taken to Tate Britain for a study day. I admit I was a bit sceptical because it meant a later start to the Exeat but I actually had great fun roaming around the gallery with my friends. The whole event was organised by the University of Sussex, which was incredibly useful for those of us considering continuing history of art beyond Bradfield.

The day consisted of several short lectures and it was really interesting to listen to people talk about something that they are so passionate about with such intensity and insight. The programme also consisted of gallery tours, which were, by far, the best part of the day. We walked around in small groups and shared our thoughts on the paintings. There were three sessions like that, all led by incredibly amiable teachers and they all chose a specific area of art that they were experts in. This meant that I got to discuss and observe landscape, portraiture and representation of women in art, which gave me a great breadth of ideas.

The day also gave us multiple breaks in which we could go off and get some tasty macaroons or a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. The delicious food contributed greatly to the overall positivity of the day.

At the end of the day, I was really glad that I was offered such an opportunity. I usually love going to art museums, but it’s even better with an expert who stretches you beyond your way of thinking. I felt incredibly inspired for the rest of the day, and I would love to see more of these trips happen in the future.

Anna (J)