The Woodgates


The Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch
Bosch’s world of devils, demons and deadly sins are truly unforgettable. At the same time, his extraordinary treatment of religious themes can be deeply moving. His works are among the most mysterious in the whole of European art, yet if we examine them in the context of contemporary politics and cultural sources we find that not only are they perfectly understandable, but they also provide an amazing insight into the society in which the artist lived.

The Mysterious World of Salvador Dalí
Dali "..... the difference between a madman and me is that I am not mad."
At one time the most well-known and popular artists of the twentieth century, Dali was a self-publicist who filled gossip columns with accounts of his eccentricities for over 60 years. His paintings of the invisible world of the unconscious mind were considered shocking even among a group of extremists like the Surrealists, and after joining them he quickly became their most exotic and well-known member. His soft watches and huge animals with stick-insect legs are among the most memorable invented images of our time, and his Christ of St. John of the Cross is a highly original re-working of one of the central themes of Western art.

Matthias Grünewald see RELIGIOUS ART - The Isenheim Altarpiece

"Living people who breathe and feel …. " - The art of Edvard Munch
The Norwegian, Munch, is the most well-known and admired Scandinavian artist, some of whose works, like The Scream have become icons of the modern world. Through his expressive use of colour and line in a series of wonderful paintings, etchings and woodcuts, he explored universal themes of psychological disturbance, love and jealousy. In the words of Robert Cumming, "He made anxiety beautiful."

Picasso and his Women
Picasso told his biographer, John Richardson, that his work was like a diary – " to understand it, you have to see how it mirrors my life." This lecture examines the way Picasso’s emotional life influenced what he painted and how he painted it. His response to each new love in his life can be seen in the different styles in which his many women were represented. When he fell out of love that fact would be revealed first in his paintings. The lecture concentrates on the seven most important women in his life (two of whom he married).

A Personal Heaven - the paintings of Stanley Spencer
One of the most original British artists of his generation, Spencer’s art was dominated by his personal life and his profound religious faith. Cookham, his birthplace, was for him an earthly paradise whose people and surroundings possessed a mystical quality. This was the setting for many of his great religious works and he spoke of “the rich religious significance of the place I live in.” Despite the failure of his two marriages, he continued to believe in the power of love and some of his most important works were inspired by his feelings for the two women whom he married. The paintings inspired by his military service in World War 1, concentrating on hope and redemption rather than on suffering, reveal a similar basic optimism.

This lecture will examine the eccentric and visionary world of one of the most creative and imaginative British painters of the 20th century.

"Airy visions painted with tinted steam..........." The Paintings of JMW Turner

One of the greatest painters of the Romantic movement, and widely regarded as Britain’s greatest and best-loved artist, throughout his life Turner was obsessed with light and the forces of nature. His use of colour was to become visually stunning, particularly in his astonishing treatment of sunrise and sunset. Among his most beautiful works are his pictures inspired by Italy, and it was there that his use of colour was to become truly liberated, an aspect of his art which was to attract both praise and condemnation. His painting “Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus” was, according to the Literary Gazette, an example of “colouring run mad”, but according to Ruskin it was “the central picture of Turner’s career.” In a poll by Radio 4, December 2005, listeners were asked to vote for the Nation’s favourite painting in our great collections. Unsurprisingly, Turner’s “The Fighting Téméraire” received the most votes.

"The spirit of the Industrial Revolution..." - Joseph Wright of Derby
In contact with scientists, intellectuals and manufacturers of his day, Wright became one of the most original and wide-ranging British artists. His subject-matter embraced “Candlelight” pictures, eruptions of Vesuvius, landscapes, portraits, literary subjects, blacksmiths’ shops, forges and factories. He has rightly been called “the first professional painter directly to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution.” (Klingender).