The Woodgates


See also individual ARTISTS

Can Art change the world? Art with something to say
This lecture (or study day) concentrates on those artists who have used their art to communicate ideas, opinions, criticisms or fears about their world and, in doing so, tell us a great deal about the historical period in which the art was created.

From the 15th to the 21st centuries, artists as varied as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Goya, William Blake, Picasso, Grayson Perry, Ai Weiwei and many more have created powerful, exciting, moving and, sometimes, disturbing works of art dealing with topics as varied as social unrest and poverty, feminism and gender politics, race, prejudice and multi-culturalism, the environment, war and propaganda, and the cult of personality.

Art Down Under – Australian Art from the Convict Years to the Modern Era
Artistic responses to life in the strange new continent were initially seen through European, and especially British, artistic traditions. In the 19th century, Australian Impressionism & the Heidelberg School challenged the dominance of the ‘Victorian’ style, with Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and others producing works which became Australian icons. The First World War was a watershed in Australian and New Zealand history. No longer subservient to Europe, artists now found their own language to depict the unique landscape and culture Down Under. At the same time, indigenous artists began to respond to contemporary life, while retaining many of the traditions of their ancestors.

The Art of North America
The art of early American settlers owed more to their European origins than to the indigenous art which they encountered in the New World. The early settlers, the new Republic, the opening up of the West, and the years following the Civil War all provided inspiration for artists. Landscape tradition continued into the 20th century, while some artists responded to the boom years in the twenties and the despair of the hungry thirties. Through the years of the Depression, American art survived and developed, thanks to the support of the Federal Arts Project. While realist art continued, it was Abstraction Expressionism, and the migration of many major European artists to American before WW2, that led to New York replacing Paris as the centre of the international avant-garde.

Life and Social Change in 19th and 20th century Art
Society and attitudes have changed more in the last 200 years than in the previous two thousand, and as society and attitudes change so does art. This lecture compares the way in which 19th and 20th century artists responded to the modern world of politics, social unrest, migrating populations, wars, and everyday life.

In the 20th century it is the expressive power of African tribal carvings which were to have a great influence on so many avant-garde artists, including Picasso and Matisse, and in the Post-Colonial era many European artists of African or Asian descent continue to explore and expand their non-Western cultural heritage.

Art and Literature
The link between art and literature is crucial to an understanding of much of the art of the past. For centuries, the closer art was to literature, the greater the art. There were also practical reasons for creating 'visible poetry', thus raising the status of artist above that of a mere craftsman. Artists include Blake, Turner, Bosch, Burne-Jones, Delacroix, Poussin, Rossetti and Millais.

Expressionism: German Revolutionary Art in the early modern period
Reviled by the Nazis, the most important and influential art movement in Germany in the early 20th century could be beautiful and sombre, highly charged and edgy, exciting and disturbing.

The Camden Town Group
Founded in 1911, and inspired by French Post-Impressionism (and working-class life in London), the short-lived Camden Town Group chronicled changes in British society immediately before and during World War 1, and heralded a new modern spirit in British art.

Modern Art and the Old Masters: the new approach to familiar themes in 20th century art
A comparison of the way in which the modern treatment of traditional genres in art is different from that of the Old Masters, the effect of these differences, and whether they add to, or change, our understanding of the subject and its message. The lecture will cover all of the traditional genres, i.e. History Painting, Portraits, Genre (pictures of everyday life), Landscape and Still-Life, and we will consider the way in which the treatment of these subjects has changed over the centuries, up to the present day.

The paths of glory....” Art and the Great War
This lecture examines the way artists, with direct experience of war, attempted to depict the conflict in the face of strict official censorship, and how each side responded to the aftermath of war.

From Elizabeth to Elizabeth - Five Centuries of British Art
The development of British art from the Elizabethans, with their exquisite miniatures and hieratic portraits of the Queen, to the extraordinary diversity of works produced in the reign of our present Queen.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
In 1848 a group of young artists got together to form a secret society which they called The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They wanted to establish a new kind of art based on serious subject matter and the painstaking study of nature. Holman Hunt said, “... our talk is deepest treason against our betters.” As proof of this, their early works in the new style provoked a storm of hostile criticism. A few years later, however, works by the Pre-Raphaelites were to be among the most popular exhibits at the Royal Academy. This lecture will make clear the reasons why the Pre-Raphaelites felt that art was in need of reform, how their art was different from the popular art of the day, the reasons for the criticisms of the group and for their gradual rise to fame and acceptance.

Signs and Symbols - the hidden messages in paintings
This lecture looks at paintings from the 14th to 20th centuries and examines the way artists have used signs and symbols to give deeper layers of meaning to their work.

-Isms and -Wasms: artistic labels and what they mean
Mannerism, Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism …. what these and many other artistic categories mean, and how they can be identified and understood.

Greek Myths and Legends in Art
In every age there have been artists whose fascination with these ancient stories has produced some of the most beautiful and memorable works of art ever created in the Western world.

More than Meets the Eye!
Artists can manipulate colour, form, composition and subject-matter (even facts!) in order to explore universal themes such as life, death, feelings, politics, and to engage our emotional participation in the work.

The Art of the Still-life
From humble origins as the lowest of the genres, still-life became the subject of some of the most beautiful, exciting, innovative and astonishing works in the history of art.