Over the past fortnight, Sixth Form art historians have heard from university lecturers and curators and explored the themes of art and nature, real life and the art of the twentieth century.
The Association for Art History’s annual Ways of Seeing Conference for Sixth Form students offered its usual range of talks by university lecturers and curators, this year on the theme of art and nature. It featured lectures on Baroque gardens at Versailles, Turner’s sublime seascapes, and contemporary land art at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The opening talk by author of the Edexcel syllabus, Sarah Phillips, asked the question: Can art save our environment? After exploring a range of contemporary works, including Eliasson’s Ice Watch, and asking some of our students to read his words to the audience, she suggested that art can change the way communities act, and hence be an agent for change by emotionalising the data.
The Lower Sixth decided to put this to the test the following Friday by visiting Olafur Eliasson’s In Real Life exhibition at Tate Modern. On a bright, clear, sunny winter’s day they not only enjoyed the interactive elements of the kaleidoscopes, and 45m long tunnel of fog, but began to realise they were experiencing the impact of changes in air quality directly and viscerally, making statistics more meaningful.
Upper Sixth art historians encountered a previous time of great change – the early twentieth century, on their visit to the Estorick Collection of Italian Futurist Art, in particular the exhibition devoted to Umberto Boccioni Recreating the Lost Sculptures. Works destroyed in the 1920s were recreated using meticulous research and digital moulding and 3D printing techniques.