Category Archives: Blog articles

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.

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!

Artful Line Exhibition Reopens!

Four drawings by Gavin Renshaw in the Artful Line exhibition

We’re pleased to announce that the Artful Line exhibition at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library has now reopened, and the loans from the Courtauld Collection have been extended until mid-October. We hope this will give people an additional opportunity to see this fantastic exhibition that was only open for a short time before it closed in March.

Featuring works from the 17th century to the present day, the exhibition includes drawings from The Courtauld’s collection by artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frank Auerbach, William Henry Hunt and Helen Saunders. Drawings by William Blake, Angelica Kauffman and Deanna Petherbridge are also on display.

To celebrate the history of the Courtaulds Ltd factory, Preston artists Gavin Renshaw, Kathryn Poole and Anita George created new works for the exhibition, inspired by the history of the site, now Red Scar Business Park, and the people who worked there.

To complement the exhibition, there is a virtual tour and a wide variety of resources by artists, educators and curators available online: https://www.theharris.org.uk/product/the-artful-line-2/

To ensure social distancing guidelines and local restrictions are met, The Harris requests visitors book one of two time slots to visit the museums and galleries: 11:00 – 13:00 and 13:30 – 15:30, and only visit with members of their household or social bubble. Tickets and further information are available through their website: https://www.theharris.org.uk/product/book-your-tickets/

New Resources for Schools

Prints made by schools

In a guest blog, Alice Hellard from the Courtauld Gallery gives us a behind the scenes look at the production of our new resources for schools and young people.

When the exhibitions at the Harris Art Gallery, Museum and Library and Braintree Museum moved online in May a great opportunity opened up to create some focused learning resources that captured some of the learning work we had planned to deliver in schools.

In March, artist educator Nadine Mahoney and I delivered a number of sessions at Braintree Museum for both primary and secondary schools. Focusing on Paul Gauguin’s four woodcut prints on display at the Museum, the sessions aimed to develop students’ understanding of Gauguin’s printmaking techniques and ideas around myth making. In the learning resources we again wanted to encourage close looking, interpretation and technique, this time focusing on two of the prints, Te Po and Manao Tupapau (1893-94).

In Preston, I was due to run school workshops in April and May with artist and Illustrator Gavin Renshaw. In January 2020 Gavin was commissioned by the Harris (alongside artists Anita George and Kathryn Poole) to create a work in response to aspects of Courtaulds Ltd heritage. Researching the brief, Gavin discovered the story of Caliban, a Courtaulds Ltd steam engine, and made a series of drawings that capture aspects of its renovation. For the online exhibition at the Harris it seemed natural to develop a practical drawing resource for secondary students that explores drawing as an approach to capturing narrative, and to talk to Gavin in more detail about his approach to drawing and heritage.

I was also delighted to have been able to reprint (with kind permission from Courtauld alumna Alma Zevi) a fascinating interview with Frank Auerbach as part of the Harris’ online programme. Auerbach’s drawing Study for an Oxford Street building site (1958-59) is in The Artful Line exhibition, and the interview gives some fascinating insights into the role of drawing to his process.

Find out more:

All of the resources are available to download from our Schools and Colleges Page

Take a look at the virtual exhibition tours and other activities on our partner museum websites
The Artful Line
Courtaulds: Origins, Innovation and Family