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Art’s Hall of Mirrors: How Poems Succeed in Making Paintings and Sculptures Speak in English

January 10 - March 13

10.45 – 12.45 Wednesdays

£73.00 – £610.00

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The ability that paintings, like music, have to leave you speechless is surely the whole point: art needs no words to fire the mind, quicken the body and touch the heart. And then we say of a painting that it really speaks to us. No wonder poets want to speak back, make art’s hidden voice visible in words, translate a picture so that we can hear it in our human language. Art’s Hall of Mirrors lines up images of great and even famous art to face the best ekphrastic poems as poets word them.

“I think Graham Fawcett is a most unusual and outstanding lecturer, with an exceptionally broad frame of reference and a refreshing fearlessness in making links”

Course Outline

10 Jan 2024 – Annunciation: Before, During, After

Gabriel is the paragon of unexpected visitors. Artists insist they know his body, hand and face language, the setting indoors, out, or both. Before that, art reaches back to Eden and, after it, to the Nativity, the childhood, Gethsemane, Calvary, heaven. Leonardo, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Masaccio, Caravaggio and Spencer meet C Day Lewis, R S Thomas, Peter Porter, Duffy, Jennings, and Causley.


17 Jan 2024 – Landscapes

How close should we be to get the best view of a landscape in life? Step back for the broad sweep? Go in closer? Both? Have landscape painters been faithful to nature or reworked it, and have poets played with those paintings or been signpost-perfect? Anna Adams, Vicky Feaver, Ferlinghetti, Mahon, R S Thomas and Whitman look upon Bazille, Bierstadt, Cézanne, Hobbema, Hopper, and Pisarro.


24 Jan 2024 – The Male Figure

These men are captured while doing the things men do: toiling, playing cards, making music, being interrogated, having a rest, being shot or dying alone. Should the poet be no more than the witness art has been, or can there be dialogue?  Enright, Heaney, Longley, Lowell, Stevens, R S Thomas, C K Williams and Wordsworth commentate on Bewick, Blake, Cézanne, Cranach, Goya, Lowry and Picasso.


31 Jan 2024 – The Female Figure

These women are not only posing: they’re come upon, as though unaware, bathing, dancing, ironing, laundering, reading a letter, or weeping. Is there such a thing as observed privacy? Boland, Duffy, Fanthorpe, Plath, Stevie Smith, Tranströmer and W C Williams respond to the visions of women in these moments from Braque, De Chirico, Degas, Fragonard, Guercino, Munch, Picasso, Renoir and Vermeer.



07 Feb 2024 – Male and Female Figures

Artists are lured like moths to the flame by the dramas in which such human priorities as anonymity and identity, beauty, labour, love, parting and sex trace the contours of relationship and conflict between and among the genders Fragonard, Giacometti, Klimt, Lowry, Millet, Munch, Rodin and Turner put the fluence on Abse, Armitage, Bird, Ferlinghetti, Donald Hall, Porter, Swenson and C K Williams.


14 Feb 2024 – Human and Animal, and The Natural World

Emulating Attenborough indoors and out, Crichton-Smith, Doty, Enright, Hughes, Mahon, Porter, Rich, Szirtes, R S Thomas, W C Williams and Yeats take a close look at creatures (be they lion, mare, tiger, dog, dragon, or transformed man) in Antonello da Messina, Burne-Jones, Chagall, Dulac, Ernst, Gauguin, Giacometti, Hokusai, Ingres, Gwen John, Monet, Nash, Pisanello, Rousseau, Uccello and Van Gogh.


21 Feb 2024 – Still Life and Domestic Lives

As they behold what homes can reveal, the documentary ambitions of painters and poets alike are quickened with their breath. Bonnard, Braque, Chardin, De Hooch, Inshaw, Gwen John, Manet, Matisse, Munch, Rauschenberg, Seurat, Sickert and Van Gogh open up houses and gardens to Bensley, Boland, Doty, Clarke, Graham MacNeice, Mahon, Rich, Satyamurti, Scannell, Schneider and Tomlinson.


28 Feb 2024 – Portraits

 Caravaggio, De Chirico, Delacroix, Dürer, Goya, Augustus John, Klee, Leonardo, Magritte, Manet, Matisse, Millais, Monet, Moore, Parmigianino, Rembrandt, Lautrec, Turner and Van Eyck let their real or imagined models sit for Ashbery, Atwood, Baudelaire, Boland, Collins, Davies, Graham, Holub, Jennings, Jarrell, Larkin, Lowell, Mackay Brown, McGough, Melville, Rich, Szymborska, Wain, and Wharton.


06 Mar 2024 – Art, Architecture and Events

Auden, Carson, Gillian Clarke, Corso, Jorie Graham, Jennings, Rossetti, Updike and Wordsworth reanimate in poetry some of art’s memorable buildings (sunlit house, crooked church, mosque), events in time, thoughts about itself, and make new connections from Brueghel, Bosch, Botticelli, Hunt, Hopper, Klimt, Lautrec, Palmer, Picasso, Rothko, Saint-Gaudens, Titian, Uccello, Van Gogh and Carel Weight.


13 Mar 2024 – The Mysteries of Existence and a Brueghel Special

 Kahlo, Kandinsky, Magritte, Miro, Munch, Pinturicchio, Rossetti, and Rousseau have their mysteries visited by Alvi, Bhatt, Duffy, Hall, Künert, Petit, Plath, Porter, and Swenson, and both Pieter Brueghels earn star treatment by us in a course curtain special of homage by Baudelaire, Dawe, de la Mare, Sexton, Tranströmer, and the famous ekphrastic series par excellence of William Carlos Williams.


January 10
March 13
£73.00 – £610.00
Course Category:


Graham Fawcett


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