Lectures & Study Days

01. The urge to buy and the art of advertising

art In this lecture we will look at early British advertising. Sir John Everett Millais’s painting of ‘Bubbles’(1885) was sold for £2,200 to help sell soap (Pears). It worked. In this lecture we will trace how the advertising industry became so successful and in particular why advertising in the UK is often thought of as Art. From posters to the fifteen second television adverts, we explore some of the most successful adverts and unpack the psychological and cultural context behind them. Award winning adverts by Guinness, Silk Cut and Nestle will be subject to a detailed analysis.


02. Who done it? Alfred Hitchcock

British film director Alfred Hitchcock is often referred to as the ‘master of darkness’. He made over fifty feature films where we often see innocent people were caught up in circumstances beyond their control. His catholic upbringing and uneasy relationship with femininity will be discussed in his early work of the Silent era. London based dramas, ‘Blackmail’ (1929) and ‘Dial M for Murder’ (1954) will be closely analysed. 'Dial M for Murder' shows Hitchcock at his obsessive best with his blonde idee fixe, Grace Kelly, under Hitchcock's powerful male gaze.


03. Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock

PsychoAfter moving to Hollywood, Hitch created several masterpieces of cinema including ‘Vertigo’ (1958) and ‘Psycho’ (1960). 'Verigo' has been recently voted by critics as the best ever film overtaking 'Citizen Kane'. Together we will explore Hitchcock's dark film about sexual obsession. Taking a shower still fills many people with dread and forboding thanks to the Hitchcock modern Horror classic of 1960. A full analysis of Hitchcock's masterful technique and influences will be the central focus of this Lecture. The French New Wave critics of Cahiers du Cinema argued that Hitchcock’s films should be regarded as artistic masterworks. Alfred Hitchcock remains by far the most studied and revered film director of all time.


04. German Film and Art between the wars

MetropolisThis lecture explores the relationship of art to film in the crucial years in Germany between the wars. Together we will examine the often dystopian vision of the city and society. Fritz Lang’s classic masterpiece ‘Metropolis’ (1926) will be our starting point to understanding expressionism in German cinema. The blueprint of the murder/suspense/thriller genre film ‘M’ (1931) was made by the same director and will be closely examined for its invention and influences. The savagely satirical paintings of Dix, Grosz and Beckmann will support our investigation into this highly important twenty years of European culture.


05. The GPO Film Unit and The Avant - Garde ‘This is the night mail crossing the Border, bringing the cheque and the postal order…’,‘Nightmail’ (1936)

Words by WH Auden and music by Benjamin Britten loudly announced the beginning of ‘poetic realism’ and the Documentary film movement. The General Post Office Film Unit (1933) established an exciting collaboration of artists, photographers, composers, anthropologists, poets and animators. Together we will explore,‘Nightmail’ (1936) and Len Lye’s hugely inventive camera less, ‘a Colour Box’ (1935). The social realism advocacy of Director John Grierson’s has left a powerful legacy which can be easily identified in the recent films of Ken Loach and Danny Boyle.


 

06. The British Landscape tradition: Thomas Gainsborough to Richard Long

artThis wide ranging survey starts in 1749 with Mr and Mrs Andrews. Portrait artists like Gainsborough were beginning to gaze out towards the countryside. Turner and Constable could be said to portray our national identity through images of peace and plenty while sometimes ignoring unrest and poverty. Later, Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash used landscape as a search for inner knowledge, fantasy and religious values. The photography of Bill Brandt and Bert Hardy documented modern urban landscape. Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long chose to move from the studio and use the physical material of the landscape itself.


07. Becoming Cary Grant

Cary GrantHe was Hollywood’s definitive leading man. ‘the best and most important actor in the history of Cinema’. Born in Bristol, Archibald Leach set out to become Cary Grant. But who was the real Cary Grant? In this lecture we will explore his journey to fame and explore why Maestro Director Alfred Hitchcock said that Cary was the only actor that he we ever loved. Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946) and North by Northwest (1959) show us the special relationship between Hitchcock and the multi-talented screen star.


08. I got the Dust Bowl blues: Texas and Oklahoma photography, art and music.

dustThe Wall Street crash in 1929 led to a questioning of the success of the American dream. President Roosevelt stepped in with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the New Deal. The government initiative meant employment for over eight million largely unskilled Americans and importantly 5,300 artists. Murals, painting, photography, graphic design all flourished. In this lecture we will explore some of the key artists at this era. The abstract painters Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning will be evaluated along with the social realism of Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn. The soundtrack of the era is provided by Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rogers.


09. The Mistress of Menace and the Master of suspense

BirdsDaphne Du Maurier and Alfred Hitchcock had much in common. Du Maurier is sometimes described as a romantic novelist but this is completely misleading. Like Hitchcock, she dealt with themes of loneliness, gender, fear, suspense and gothic imagery. In their work they built compelling and complex emotional landscapes for their characters. Although they never met, the pair produced three key cultural landmarks of the 20th century in Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and The Birds. In this lecture we will explore Hitchcock’s, ‘The Birds’ (1963). We will closely unpack some of the essential scenes in the film and look at the masterful techniques both on the page and on the screen.


10. The people’s picture gallery - Shell Lorry posters 1930-39

Out of the studio and on to the road. Established artists such as Paul Nash, Vanessa Bell and Graham Sutherland were commissioned by the Shell Oil Company to create brand images for the growing market in motoring.''See Britain First' and ‘Everywhere you go… you can be sure of Shell’, went the slogans. In this lecture we will explore a range of beautiful poster adverts which were granted the seal of approval as ‘art’ by Sir Kenneth Clark, then, Curator of the National Gallery, London. How much did these famous images of British people and landscapes represent British art, culture, identity and values in the 1930s?


11. Expressionism

artIn this lecture we will explore many of the key exponents of this well-known but elusive movement. We will analyse and focus on the paintings of Nolde, Grosz, Kollwitz, Dix and Beckmann and the dystopian ‘art cinema’ of Wiene, Murnau and Lang. We will look for an understanding of this often personal and political search for an inner essential reality behind the external world of appearances. Categorised as ‘degenerate’ during the Third Reich, the movement was later absorbed into the repertoire of modernism and continues to be adapted by today’s artists, writers and film makers.

 


12. Revolt into Style: The Punk aesthetic - Fashion, Art and Music

punkThis short lived, rebellious, anarchic and creative movement took hold in the economically depressed late 1970s. In this lecture we will explore the aesthetics of revolt. Vivienne Westwood creatively led a fashion explosion of disaffection, fetishism and radical politics. With strong links to the Surrealist and Dada artists of the Situationist International and the biting social criticism of German Expressionism, punk has a fascinating heritage. It acted as a 'theatre of provocation'. But Punk was much more than an artistic style. It leaves a huge legacy and resonance on our modern contemporary culture. This illustrated lecture reveals the facts behind the mythology.


13. Dancing and stripping your way to a new life - (The Full Monty and Billy Elliot).

Both these empowering and successful films have been made into musicals. Dance with its soaring language of the human spirit can be seen against the harsh world of strikes and unemployment in the industrial north. These invigorating stories chart how boys and men can, against the odds, buy a ticket to a new life. In the lecture we will look at the photography of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen who was the inspiration to the screen writer of Billy Elliot, Lee Hall. The themes of humour, masculinity, identity, family and community will be at the centre of our analysis.


14. 'What I Am Out For Is A Good Time, All The Rest Is Propaganda!' - British Cinema Northern Realism

Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) in the Kitchen sink classic, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ (1961). Along with ‘A Taste of Honey’ (1962) there was an exciting new kind of cinema with stories of ‘real’ people in ‘real’ locations that broke box office records at the time. In this lecture we will examine the new representation of working class life and the beginnings of the social realist cinema that can be seen in Coronation Street’s first episode (1960) and the later films ‘Full Monty’ (1997) and ‘Billy Elliot’ (200 0).


15. Film Noir - The detective, the murderer, the femme fatale. The story of one of cinema's most powerful genres.

Since Edgar Allan Poe created the template for the modern detective with C. Auguste Dupin in 1841, we, as a society, have been fascinated by this lonely protagonist in novels and films. In this lecture we will focus on the ‘hard boiled’ tough detective as portrayed in ‘Film Noir’ (American crime films 1940-58). We will explore several key films in this much analysed film genre; these include Stranger on the third floor (1940) directed by Boris Ingster, Fritz Lang’s classic, The Big Heat (1956) and the more recent, LA Confidential (1997) directed by Curtis Hanson. The themes of loneliness, gender and psychological conflict will be opened up for close inspection.

John Francis Lecturer