Art History Lecturer
Justine is an accredited NADFAS lecturer and a regular contributor to courses at the V&A, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol.
She also works for various branches of U3A and other independent organisations, offering individual lectures, Study Days and residential weekends. If you are interested, please get in touch through the ‘Contact’ section.
The following is a list of popular lectures; however one of the joys of the freelance life is the chance to develop a broad range of interests and expertise and Justine is always willing to discuss a group’s particular interests, or consider tie-ins with current exhibitions/visits. So if you have something in mind that you don’t see here it is still worth getting in touch.
The World in a Grain of Sand: William Blake
William Blake: Poet, Painter and Philosopher; Rebel, Radical, and Revolutionary. Called mad as often as visionary by his contemporaries, he created his own mythology to tell the truths he saw as fundamental to all existence. Yet Blake was also a passionate participant in the affairs of his own day; his paintings and poetry, complementary and inseparable, reflect the conditions of eighteenth century London as well as the fabric of Time, Space and God. Today they are enjoyed by schoolchildren and continue to baffle scholars of art and literature alike. This lecture examines the paradox of William Blake, and his celebration of life in all its diversity and richness.
Received into the Soul: The Landscape Vision of Samuel Palmer
Samuel Palmer’s years in the Kentish valley of Shoreham produced a series of visionary paintings which capture and celebrate the vitality of the natural world with an energy comparable to that of his more famous contemporary, JMW Turner. That vision faded with time and changing circumstances, but the magic was never entirely lost, re-emerging triumphantly in the etchings Palmer produced at the end of his life. This lecture examines Palmer’s achievement, and the influences and inspirations, from the friendship of William Blake to the Corn Law Riots and the Reform Act, which combined to create one of the most extraordinary painters of the Romantic era.
As I Can: William Morris, Artist and Craftsman
Artist and artisan, businessman and poet, William Morris could weave, embroider and make screen prints. He was an expert on vegetable dyes and the illumination of manuscripts and knew the Norse legends, the Greek myths and the hero-tales of Arthur, which he wove into his work along with the thrushes that stole strawberries from his garden. One of the first British Marxists, he spoke passionately for the rights of the workers, while being gloomily aware that his own products were beyond the pockets of all but the rich men he despised. This lecture examines the phenomenon of William Morris, one of the great makers and shapers of his own time and ours.
Greenery, Yallery, Grosvenor Galley: The Changing World of Victorian Art
The Grosvenor Gallery opened in 1877, the inspiration of Sir Coutts Lindsay, amateur painter and aristocratic collector, who designed his impressive, expensive building for artists he personally admired. The result was the most popular private gallery of the age, celebrating everything new and challenging in painting and sculpture and making the reputations of artists later internationally renowned, including Burne-Jones, Watts and Whistler. This lecture explores the Grosvenor phenomenon: its artists, their works, its successful challenge to the monopoly of the Royal Academy and its lasting legacy in our own perceptions of what an art gallery should be.
Angels and Locomotives: The World and Art of Edward Burne-Jones
At school he was plain Ned Jones, “the kind of small boy you kick if you are a bigger boy”. He died Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones Bart., a household name and a painter of international renown whose friends were among leading lights of the Victorian era: William Morris, D.G. Rosseti, Tennyson, Swinburne and Whistler, while his influence extended beyond his life-time to spread his legacy among the avant-garde of Modernism. This course explores the extraordinary career of the Birmingham frame-maker’s son whose pictures gave a new resonance to the term Pre-Raphaelite and the concept of Art for Art’s Sake, and whose visionary imagination continues to enchant and intrigue.
The Business of an Artist: William Nicholson, Tradition and Innovation
Painter, engraver and designer, William Nicholson became synonymous with the elegance and glamour of the Edwardian Age. Highly praised for his still life, landscape and society portrait painting, he was also a noted stage designer and book illustrator. Yet in an age of burgeoning Modernism he came to be regarded as a somewhat pedestrian figure, overshadowed by his son Ben whose pioneering achievements in abstraction won him an international reputation even as his father’s declined. This lecture takes a closer look at William Nicholson and his works to reveal that, on the contrary, he was an artist with a subversive eye and ironical wit, whose pictures are never as simple as they might appear to the casual observer.
I am a Messenger: Painters, Poets and Sculptors of the Great War
The First World War was one of the great tragedies of modern times – a chaos of blood and slaughter that virtually destroyed a generation and changed the world forever. Yet out of the devastation came a legacy of art and poetry that has lasted a hundred years without losing its urgent, resonant power. This lecture explores that paradox of creation from destruction, through the works of the poets and artists who gave their talents, and in some cases their lives, to the recording of the ‘War to end wars’.
Exquisite Corpses and Angels of Anarchy: the Arts of the Surrealists
Surrealism is constantly challenging, demanding of viewers that they look at everything afresh. Its artists embraced the unexpected and the impossible; their works suggest questions about the nature of reality and truth for which there are ultimately no ‘right’ answers. This lecture offers some pointers along the way to anyone who has been intrigued, mystified or disturbed by Surrealism, not a style, not a school, but surely the ultimate art with attitude, and with a mysterious and still irresistible appeal. Here you will meet the men, and the women, no less powerfully talented for being all too often overlooked, responsible for its allure.
Adventures in 3 Dimensions: Twentieth Century British Sculpture
Modern sculpture is mysterious to many people, notoriously difficult and inaccessible, and often made more so rather than less by critical exposition. The works of Epstein, Moore, Hepworth, Frink and their contemporaries stand at the heart of our time, yet it is easy to be intimidated where we should be enthralled. Sculptors in the last century discovered a three-dimensional language as flexible and expressive as music or poetry, capable of revealing the rhythms and meanings of life itself – their legacy remains in works which should be approached as an exploration, an adventure, something to be enjoyed. This lecture sets out to prove that we can all be explorers.
Landscape and the Things Behind: Art, War and Neo-Romantic Painting
Ironic, self-mocking yet passionately committed; inheritors of a tradition stretching from the Book of Kells through Blake to Turner, the Neo-Romantics of the 1930s and 40s reflected the tensions of their wartime world in landscape paintings resonant with mysterious shadows and enigmatic situations. After the war their reputation dwindled, but the paintings remain and remain powerful, now finding echoes in our own world of climate change and environmental anxiety. This lecture follows the course of Neo-Romanticism and its artists, including Sutherland, Nash and Piper, John Minton, Michael Ayrton, Ceri Richards and even the young Bacon and Freud.
A sort of trawling tourist: Michael Ayrton, Image-maker
Michael Ayrton once said that he would like to be described as an image-maker ... those two words contain everything with which I am most deeply concerned. This lecture explores the diversity of Ayrton’s achievement, from his early Neo-Romantic landscape paintings through his long fascination with the Greek myths of Daedalus, Icarus and the bull-headed Minotaur – which inspired him to sculpture, paintings, etchings, two novels and a full-size stone labyrinth – to the late series of ‘Reflector’ sculptures in which he pursued his lasting fascination with the form and symbolism of the maze by a physical combination of ancient and modern materials.
Cornard Wood to Fangorn Forest: British Trees in Art and Literature
Trees have always caught the human imagination and nowhere more powerfully than in Britain. We descend from tree-worshippers, and that sense of the sacred has always remained to make trees and especially forests at once alarming and attractive. This lecture investigates the manifestations of this literally deep-rooted fascination from Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden to our own day. Along the way we shall pass through Gainsborough’s half-imaginary woodlands and Constable’s remembered groves, enjoy Samuel Palmer’s exultant celebrations of blossom and bough and the meticulously observed trees of the Pre-Raphaelites, encounter the fantastical forests of Tolkein and explore abstract creations of Ivon Hitchens, David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy.
Infant Joy, Infant Sorrow: 300 years of England’s Painted Children
In any country, any period, in the abstract and in the particular, children are important. So it is not surprising to find them providing a natural subject for artists, whether portrayed on commission for their parents or to charm the more general customer. And in England, a country at the forefront of developments in child-rearing since the sixteenth century, painting children has always been one of the surest routes to popularity. Blake, Hogarth and Gainsborough; Millais, Whistler and Sargent; Lucien Freud and Paula Rego are only some of the artists whose work we shall discover in this lecture, which explores the way British artists through the ages not only celebrated children and childhood but reflected the changing societies and attitudes which shaped them.
Faces and Fortunes: British Portraiture through the Ages
Portraiture has always occupied a special place in British art and London’s National Portrait Gallery was the first of its kind in Europe. Today’s portrait painters face different challenges from their predecessors, but they are still painting towards the same goals: to produce images of the face and body which will also reveal something of character and experiences. From witches’ effigy to boardroom commission, intimate miniature to public monument, portraiture has engaged and challenged the finest artistic minds and talents.
This lecture examines some results of that pursuit of personality, from Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough to Sutherland, Bacon and Freud.
Artist, Craftsman, Chemist: The Rise of Studio Pottery
An exploration of the development of pottery as an art-form, and of the potter from faceless member of a factory team to acknowledged artist exhibiting alongside painters and sculptors on equal terms. In the mid-nineteenth century potters including the Martin brothers in London, Taxile Doat in France, Adelaide Robinet and George Ohr in America developed the idea of potters working alone in personal studios, producing unique pieces rather than commercial ‘lines’, and experimenting with new glazes and forms. This impetus, picked up in the early years of the twentieth century by Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada and William Staite-Murray among others, established the foundations of Studio Pottery; of pots made to appeal to the mind and spirit not merely the eye of the buyer, based as much on ideas as utility.
[This lecture can be given as a pair with ‘Creative and Controversial Ceramics’, see below]
Creative and Controversial Ceramics: 100 years of Expanding the Field
The potter’s craft goes back to the beginnings of civilisation and many of the techniques developed then still survive. But over the last century or so potters have redefined themselves as artists, using a mixture of ancient and modern technologies and concerning themselves with everything from politics to metaphysics, comedy to pornography. In 2003 Grayson Perry won the Turner Prize, the first potter ever to do so, and confirmed the place of clay as a medium for avant-garde and subversive art. This lecture investigates how pots moved from the cooking fire to the art gallery, opening up a field of ceramic vision at once creative and controversial, beautiful and bizarre.
[This lecture can be given as a pair with ‘The Rise of Studio Pottery’, see above]
Frozen Breath of the Polar Night: An Introduction to Art Nouveau Glass
Glass, tough, fragile and unpredictable; colourful or colourless; capable of flowing like metal or being carved like stone, offered a unique range of opportunities for translating the swirling energies and sinuous lines of Art Nouveau into objects to enchant the eye and intrigue the mind. This lecture explores the achievement of the masters of Art Nouveau glass: René Lalique, Emile Gallé and Louis Comfort Tiffany, and their outstanding contribution to one of the most important movements of the last century.