Author Archives: Katherine

Voices of Courtaulds exhibition opens at Flint Library

Voices of Courtaulds Exhibition

The latest Courtauld National Partners collaboration with Greenfield Valley Heritage Park and their fantastic team of volunteers is now open to the public at Flint Library.

The Voices of Courtaulds exhibition is based on the memories and photographs of Courtauld employees from the five Flintshire factory sites. Courtaulds had three factory sites in Flint: Aber Works, Deeside Mills and Castle Works, and two rayon production facilities at Greenfield named Number 1 and 2. At its height, the Courtauld company employed over 10,000 people in Flintshire.

Voices of Courtaulds explores the stories of the generations of families that worked there, including displays about the clubs, societies and sporting events, the different types of jobs and training, and the importance of Rayon. Over 120 former employees and local residents contributed their stories to the exhibition through drop-in Story Shops held in Flint and Holywell.

In September, the exhibition will move to a new exhibition space at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park to join a bigger display about Courtaulds in Flintshire, which will include audio recordings of former employees, resource packs for schools and an online catalogue of artefacts collected during the project.

5 things you didn’t know about … Impressionism

Monet in Mind exhibition

To celebrate the Monet in Mind exhibition at The Ferens, on 10th June Dr Karen Serres joined the Future Ferens to discuss the exhibition, Monet’s practice and approaches to curating Monet’s Antibes. You can now view the recording of the event on The Courtauld’s YouTube channel and Karen has also written this guest blog to share some lesser-known facts about Impressionism.

The term was originally an insult.
The group of artists we now know as the Impressionists came together to show their work in Paris in 1874, after having been rejected from the annual state-sponsored exhibition where artists’ reputation had typically been made. They wanted to promote a new way of painting and rented a small studio to display their work. Critics initially dismissed it as unfinished and too sketchy, giving only the impression of things, and not a finished, accurate depiction. This is in fact what the painters sought to do, with Monet calling one of his paintings Impression, Sunrise. The artists adopted the insult as their own and organised seven more ‘Impressionist’ exhibitions over the next decade.

A simple technical innovation made the movement possible.
Up until the middle of the 19th century, artists were a bit stuck in their studios because the paints they used had to prepared right before they started to work (many artists had assistants do this, mixing ground pigments with oil to create a thick coloured paste). The invention of the small tin tube allowed oil paint to be stored without drying and squeezed out in small quantities as needed. Paint could be carried around easily, thus allowing artists to leave the studio and work out of doors. They could also use many different colours at a time.

Working out of doors could be challenging.
Painting landscapes was an important part of the Impressionists’ mission. It enabled them to study the changing light on the same feature at different times of day for example, or to render reflections on the water with their characteristic short brushstrokes. Earlier painters had made sketches in nature but finished their landscape paintings in the studio. The Impressionists most often painted theirs entirely outside; bits of sand or insects are regularly found embedded in the paint. Monet even had a small boat fitted as a studio so he could paint views of the river. He was also one of the few Impressionist painters who continued to paint outside in winter, creating beautiful snow scenes.

The Impressionists were excited to represent modern life.
In their formal training, painters were usually taught that certain themes were more worthy of being represented than others. These included religious or historical scenes (preferably from ancient Rome) and portraits of statesmen for example. The Impressionists argued that life around them was more interesting and set out to paint their surroundings and their friends, documenting the exciting developments that Paris was experiencing in the late 19th century. New cafés and places of entertainment were opening, department stores encouraged a new society of consumers, people spent more leisure time in parks, along riverbanks and on the coast, which they could reach thanks to the expanding railroad. Paris was an exciting place to be at that time, although the Impressionists also painted those exploited by this boom, such as impoverished factory and service workers.

England played an important role in the development of Impressionism.
In 1870-71, many French artists settled in London, fleeing the Franco-Prussian war that had left Paris isolated and starving. In London, they were able to start painting again and expand their networks. It was in London for example that two Impressionist painters, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, met the French dealer that would become their champion, Paul Durand-Ruel. Thanks to him, Impressionist works were regularly exhibited in London throughout the 1870s and beyond. However, no gallery was buying these works and it wasn’t until the 1920s that Impressionism was properly represented in public collections in the UK, thanks to Samuel Courtauld’s purchases and support.

Find out more: 

You can explore the Monet in Mind exhibition, including a virtual tour on the exhibition website.

Find the recording of the Monet in Mind event on YouTube.

Book tickets to visit the exhibition on the Hull Culture and Leisure Website.

Ulster schools create Renoir-inspired online exhibition

Jennifer McConkey zine page

We are thrilled to announce that the Fashion Sense? exhibition featuring work from students at three colleges in Northern Ireland is now available to view online. Their work takes the Renoir and the New Era exhibition at Ulster Museum as a starting point and uses it to explore fashion, gender, the gaze and contemporary pressures.

Over the past year our work with schools has had to adapt to take place online, this exhibition is the culmination of our first project using this new approach, which encourages personal reflection and independent learning based on resources provided by The Courtauld’s public programmes team.

The exhibition can be viewed on The Courtauld’s website and includes a short film by Dr Karen Serres, Curator of Paintings at The Courtauld.

The Fashion Sense? sourcebook is also available to download on our website. If you are interested in finding out more or would like our support in running the project in your school or college contact education@courtauld.ac.uk

Monet in Mind exhibition now open in Hull!

Monet Antibes

We are thrilled that Monet in Mind opened at the Ferens Art Gallery this week, and is already off to a flying start with plenty of visitors and media interest.

French Impressionist Claude Monet’s stunning landscape painting, Antibes (1888) forms the centrepiece, and is the inspiration for, an exciting new exhibition which will bring a fresh perspective to the Impressionist artwork, and invite visitors to reconsider some of their Ferens favourites.

Antibes was chosen to be the lead painting for the exhibition following a public vote and was designed to give young people in Hull an opportunity to engage with cultural decision-making. Indeed, Monet in Mind is in itself a showcase of the talents of the Future Ferens, a 16-25 year old volunteer group, who worked in collaboration with the Gallery on all aspects of curation, design and promotion of this immersive exhibition.

The key theme underscoring the exhibition is that of mindfulness, with Monet’s landscape as the anchor point. Mindfulness encourages individuals to pause and take a step back from stresses of life, and appreciate the present moment. This accessible exhibition has been designed to give visitors – both to the gallery and online – the space in which to reflect on the artworks on display and enjoy them in a calming environment.

The exhibition can be viewed online or visited in person, subject to booking. Take a look at Hull Culture and Leisure’s Website for further details.

Plus there is a fantastic programme of events to come over the next few weeks, more to be announced soon:

Creative Writing Workshop

Sunday 13 June 2021, 1pm – 3pm, Online

Deciding where to start with a piece of writing can be difficult. What should you write about? How should you write it? Why is the page insisting on remaining blank?

Join spoken word artists James Varney for a playful workshop about writing as collage, experimentation, and throwing together the unexpected in response to the Ferens’s Monet in Mind exhibition. Create messy, gut-reaction responses, play around with what they might become, and come away with some exciting first drafts and a few tools for tackling a blank page.

Free, booking essential – BOOK TICKETS

Mindfulness Drawing

Friday 25th June, 2pm – 4pm, Online

The key theme underscoring the Monet in Mind exhibition is that of mindfulness, with Monet’s landscape as the anchor point. Mindfulness encourages individuals to pause and take a step back from stresses and strains of life, and appreciate the present moment. This exhibition has been designed to give visitors – both to the gallery and online – the space in which to reflect on the artworks on display and enjoy them in a calming environment.

Join Hull artist Lauren Saunders in a small group workshop to take a break from the busyness of life. Taking the Monet in Mind exhibition as your inspiration, you will be led through mindfulness techniques and learn new drawing methods.

Lauren Saunders is a visual artist living and working in Hull. Her research-led practice explores questions surrounding environmental ethics within her highly experimental and philosophy-inspired drawing practice. She also produces and coordinates community and participatory projects, most notably the Hull-based arts journal The Critical Fish.

Free, booking essential – BOOK TICKETS

Call-out to former employees of Courtaulds Ltd in Northern Ireland

Volunteers at Renoir display

National Museums NI has released a Northern Ireland-wide call-out to former employees of Courtaulds Ltd. factories once based in Carrickfergus, Markethill, Irvinestown, Limavady, Cookstown and Plumbridge, to get in touch. It plans to collect memories and memorabilia as well as first-hand accounts from past employees of the textiles manufacturer.

As part of the Courtauld National Partners Programme, National Museums NI is working with a network of volunteers to encourage the public to come forward and share their accounts. The plan is to collect and record the available information and create a celebration of Courtaulds Ltd. and the impact it had here in Northern Ireland.

Former employees can share their experiences and stories by emailing courtaulds@nmni.com to get involved.

Renoir Exhibition Inspires Young Feminists

Artistic response to Renoir

The portrayal of women, and how women portray themselves, was a major theme in the Renoir and the New Era exhibition. Taking this theme as a jumping off point the curator Anna Liesching invited artist and activist Emma Campbell to run a two week reading group as part of the Reimagine, Remake, Replay initiative. RRR is National Museums NI’s youth engagement programme which aims to connect young people and museum collections in meaningful ways through creative media and the latest technologies.

Participants were provided with a selection of readings that looked at women’s freedom in public space at the time of the Impressionists, reflected on women artists and the feminist art movement. Over two online evening sessions the group discussed the readings, looking at Renoir’s a Loge and the prints by Berthe Morisot in the exhibition while making their own reflections, all facilitated by Emma. The online event lead to some insightful and personal topics of conversation, possibly more explorative than they would have been in a formal gallery environment. Many participants said the event was personally important to them, and timely, because of recent events concerning women’s space in the world. They were then asked to respond to the sessions in whichever medium they chose.

You can find the responses, including zines, blogs, poems and artworks, on the Reimagine, Remake, Replay website.

 

Celebrating Courtauld Women

Portrait of Katherine Mina Courtauld

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 Braintree Museum have put together a series of films exploring the lives of, often overlooked, female members of the Courtauld family. Curator Claire Willets, in conversation with George Courtauld and museum volunteers, takes a look at some inspirational stories, including pioneering business-women, suffragettes, globe-trotting doctors and women taking on vital roles in both world wars.

All of the films are available on the Braintree Museum YouTube channel and at the links below. More information about the Courtauld family and the women discussed in these conversations is available in the online exhibition Courtaulds: Origins, Innovation, Family.

 

 

Radical Printmaking Online Event

Renoir and The New Era exhibition

To celebrate the new National Partners’ exhibition Renoir and the New Era, on 4th February we are collaborating with Open Courtauld Hour and Ulster Museum to bring you on online event exploring the radical potential of printmaking.

The exhibition, which includes prints by Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet, explores the Impressionists as agitators and anarchists against the established art system. Radical Printmaking will look at the exhibition alongside contemporary works from The Courtauld’s collection and beyond.

Speakers include; Anna Liesching (Curator of Art, National Museums NI), Elaine Shemilt (Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art Practice at Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art and Design) and Nathan Crothers (Artist).

The event is free but places are limited so booking is essential. You can find out more and reserve your place on The Courtauld’s website.

A Smartify tour of Renoir and the New Era is also available to enjoy from home.

Renoir and the New Era – Major new exhibition opens in Belfast

Renoir and the New Era exhibition

We are thrilled that Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s masterpiece La Loge has gone on display at Ulster Museum, Belfast, for the first time as part of a new exhibition – Renoir and the New Era: Impressionist works from The Courtauld.

The exhibition, which is open until 11 April 2021, features a series of Impressionist works from The Courtauld’s collection with La Loge (1874) as its centrepiece. Renoir and the New Era looks specifically at the 1874 ‘First Impressionist Exhibition’ that featured La Loge and how the painting itself, and the Impressionist movement, represented the emergence of democracy within culture and a new era of thought around art, politics and representation.

Accompanying works on paper by Berthe Morisot, Édouard Manet and Camille Pissarro, also from The Courtauld’s collection, raise the subjects of the portrayal of women in Impressionism, new approaches to drawing the figure, and depicting daily life.

For those lucky enough to be able to visit in person, tickets can now be booked online through the Ulster Museum’s website.

The exhibition can also be viewed digitally through the SmARTify App, and a series of online events in 2021 will share the exhibition with audiences throughout the UK and beyond – check back for further announcements!

New Films Show Drawings in Detail

Photo of Artful Line exhibition

Recently four drawings from The Courtauld’s collection returned from the Artful Line exhibition in Preston. Over the past nine months these beautiful works have been a hit with staff and visitors at The Harris, so we have created four new films that look at each work in detail to allow people to continue to appreciate them online.

The films were produced and narrated by The Courtauld’s Print Room Assistants, postgraduate students who help people to access and learn more about the collection, and Dr Rachel Sloan, Assistant Curator of Works on Paper. Each film focuses on the technical details of each drawing, providing the opportunity to see the works close-up, as well as providing some interesting information about the artist and subject.

You can view the films on YouTube using the links below, and more detail about the works and The Artful Line can be found on The Harris’ website.

Portrait of a Girl 
William Henry Hunt, C.1830.
Hunt, Portrait of a Girl
Voiceover: Jasmine Clark
Images © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld, London

 
Vorticist Composition 
Helen Saunders, c.1915
Saunders, Vorticist Composition
Voiceover: Charlotte Wytema
Images ©The Estate of Helen Saunders and The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld, London

 
Study for an Oxford Street Building Site
Frank Auerbach, C.1958.
Auerbach, Study of Oxford Street
Voiceover: Saskia Rubin
Images © Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Gallery, New York and London and The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld, London

Elizabeth Siddal Seated at an Easel
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, C.1854.
Drawing of Elizabeth Siddal
Voiceover: Rachel Sloan
Images © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld, London