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Forthcoming Session Details

Course beginning Monday 31st October2022


Michael Kennedy will conduct the next six sessions on Monday evenings.  



Time is an ever-present reality.  Many of us, with good reason, live our lives by the clock and the calendar.  Time is visible, inescapable with the changing of the light and the seasons of the year.  All these perceptible effects of time, and much more, are seen in the arts.  Music and film are time dependent of course, painting and sculpture less so.  But all the arts, whether they rely on unfolding time for their existence or not, reflect to us our experience of time, our sense of its passing, our hopes for the future, and our collective memories.

Painting is static.  It hangs in the gallery and doesn’t perceptibly change; we change, society changes, and our relationship with the painting and how we interpret it similarly changes.  Many paintings offer us an image of a fixed point in time, real time, or imaginary time. History Painting especially does this, even if the subject matter is quite animated; Turner’s ‘The Slave Ship’ (1840) for example, or ‘Hannibal Crossing the Alps’ (1812).  The Impressionists attempted to capture the fleeting effects of changing light using broken brush strokes and unmodulated colour. Monet went one better in his ‘Rouen Cathedral’ (1892-93) series by giving us a group of paintings, each painted at different times of day.  Cezanne’s paintings, as a minimum, show us the passing of time in the gestation of the painting; he talked about ‘bringing the painting into being’ and the evidence of this is clear in the handling of his broken outlines and fragmented colours; ‘Still Life with Plaster Cupid’, 1895.  Cubism, and Futurism sought, among other things, how to depict time in the painting itself, e.g., Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase – No 2’ (1912), for movement through space itself implies the passing of time.  Perhaps Hockney’s greatest achievements are in his re-working of this idea in showing us what a journey feels like, for example ‘Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio’, (1980). Abstract Expressionism does something similar, but this time focused on the artist as he creates.  An Abstract Expressionist painting is a record of an event, like dirty footprints on a clean floor or the sand on a beach at the end of the day: Jackson Pollock, ‘Yellow Islands’, (1952).

I don’t pretend that these few words and examples exhaust the subject or even adequately scratch the surface – far more words and images are required.  But I hope it gives you a broad idea of our chosen theme.  I shall, as usual, talk more about this and support each session with visual resources.  I shall, also as usual, prepare a list of starting points and ideas for you to make a start and get as much as possible out of this very rich theme.You may not have time to do more than one or two of these but if you find you have, then don’t hesitate.  These starting points may be carried out in any order.  You will see that the five suggestions overlap considerably and a response to one idea might equally serve as a response to different one.  The suggestions are not exhaustive – you may well have a better idea or ideas.  Don’t be afraid to follow them up instead.  As usual, keep all your work for the crit on the final evening!

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