Light illuminates, it moulds, it defines our mood – and, in art, its effects are determined by the artist’s tools. From gold leaf to photography, oil paint to the Louvre pyramids, each week we range across centuries and styles to understand both how light can be captured and the changing messages it carries, whether of divine symbolism, naturalism in landscape or intense emotion.
“Nicole is extremely good and her knowledge is great. I look forward to attending many more of her lectures”
17 OCT – From the Darkness
As artists aspire to capture naturalistic form, they require a medium which allows them to capture subtle movements of light to create relief and shifting colour. While retaining traditional, natural pigments, the shift from egg to oil-based paint from the 15th century creates new opportunities and rich glazes and is to remain the principal medium of the painter for 500 years.
24 OCT – Writing in Light
Artists use their materials to capture, mediate and explore our relationship with their subjects. Apart from paint itself, the gold of mosaics, the brilliance of stained glass and the neon installations of the last century have all used media to affect their message, and photography is light itself.
31 OCT – Light of the World
From a sunny summer morning to the glaring limelight of a stage, from a nocturnal Betrayal of Christ to soft candlelight, from Rembrandt to Impressionism, our perceptions are tempered by the changing nuances of light. Atmosphere comes alive – dust-filled interiors, mist, fog, reflections, shimmer are all animated by its subtle effects.
07 NOV – Seeing the Light
Physical light inevitably symbolizes spiritual illumination and vision, just as darkness equates to spiritual blindness. Christ IS light, saints are identified by their glowing haloes and the first task of God in creating the world was to separate light from darkness. We explore some of the messages communicated by theology and art through light.
14 NOV – Lightening the Mood
We have electric light at the touch of a switch. As adults, we are shielded from the night fears of children – but they express a primitive emotional reaction which artists from Caravaggio to Delacroix have recognized and harnessed, intensifying the mood of their work, drawing us in to share and empathise.
21 NOV – Visit to The National Gallery
A visit to the National Gallery allows us to explore the range of themes we have examined in this course through the centuries.