ART HISTORY FESTIVAL 2023 – Online/Hybrid Events

Association for Art History


Discover the vibrant colours of National Trust wallpapers and interiors, and their inspiration for contemporary wallpapers by the renowned paint company, Little Greene.

From Chinese blue and white porcelain to Japanese gold on black lacquer, the colours of East Asian decorative art have had a dramatic impact upon British interior design from the early seventeenth century onwards, and they continue to inspire today.

Emile de Bruijn, Assistant National Curator Decorative Arts at the National Trust joins us to discuss how the sophistication of imported East Asian luxury goods reinforced the European admiration for China and Japan as advanced civilisations, how Europeans copied and adapted Asian styles and motifs and how hybrid products like Chinese export wallpapers emerged out of these processes of international trade and interaction – all sparking a European love affair with intense colour across the arts.

Andy GreenAll, Head of Design will also discuss how Little Greene has taken inspiration from original wallpapers in the National Trust collection — redrawing, and recolouring designs for the modern interior.

Whether you’re an interior design enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to revamp your home, this event is for you!

Tuesday 19 September
10:45 – 12:00

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Photo: Little Greene


Join the Art History Festival for an exciting online event with Patrick Baty: The Paint Detective

Delve into the fascinating world of paint analysis as Patrick Baty, renowned paint historian and consultant, shares his detective processes about historical paint colours and techniques, and the clues they provide about a building’s history.

This virtual event will take you on a journey through some of the many mysteries Patrick has solved. From Tudor gardens to 1960s housing estates, discover how he uncovers the history of paint through meticulous research and analysis, shedding light on the colours that adorned the walls of historic spaces. An account will be given of a house, with discreet Royal connections, where – from the paint alone – he could prove that a pair of doors had come from a long-demolished building, hundreds of miles away. He will also provide an update on a 14-year project at Stowe and will describe the finding of a hidden mural in a Chelsea house once owned by the painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Whether you’re an art or architecture enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about the hidden world of paint, this event is not to be missed! Join us online for an engaging and informative session with Patrick Baty: The Paint Detective.

Tuesday 19 September
14:00 – 15:00

This event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances

Ben Bowling and Elena Crippa in conversation

Delve into the vibrant world of Frank Bowling, one of Britain’s most celebrated artists.

We are honoured to be joined by Ben Bowling, who has a close relationship with his father, and curator Elena Crippa. Together, they will share insights from their many conversations with the artist and their deep knowledge of him, and of his life and work. They will also share with us Frank’s recent reflections made exclusively for this event!

From his early days in Guyana to his remarkable career in London, be inspired by the boundless creativity of this renowned Black British artist, renowned for his groundbreaking abstract paintings. Immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of hues as we explore the power of colour in Frank Bowling’s captivating artworks, its significance for him, and its impact on our emotions.

We’ll also reflect on the creation of his archive, and his own role in shaping his future legacy and positioning within the art historical canon.

Ben Bowling is Professor of Criminology at King’s College London and as co-director of the Frank Bowling Studio (with his brother, Sacha Bowling) he leads a professional studio team working with galleries and museums to free Sir Frank to make the critically acclaimed work that is at the heart of his painting practice.

Elena Crippa is about to join London’s Whitechapel Gallery as Head of Exhibitions. Until recently, she was Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain for ten years, where her exhibitions included All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life (2018), Frank Bowling (2019), Paula Rego (2021) and the 2022 commission Hew Locke: The Procession. She has published widely on many aspects of post-war and contemporary art.

Tuesday 19 September
18:30 – 19:30

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Photo: Spencer Richards


Colour is Mine was the first major retrospective conceived to explore the work of the Scottish designer Althea McNish (1924–2020), one of the UK’s most innovative textile artists and the first designer of Caribbean descent to gain international recognition for her textile designs. She described her use of colour as instinctive and imaginative, declaring ‘what is there to be afraid of’ when it comes to colour.

This online talk by textile historian and curator Rose Sinclair will focus on McNish’s innate use of colour in her designs and artwork as seen through the curatorial lens of the Colour is Mine exhibition that took place at the William Morris Gallery and The Whitworth during 2022–2023.

Rose Sinclair is a Lecturer (Textiles) in Design Education, in the Design Dept, Goldsmiths, University of London. She was co- curator of the Colour is Mine exhibition.

Thursday 21 September
17:30 – 18:30

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Photo: David Oates

Athena art Foundation
with Henry moore institute


Dr Adrienne L. Childs and Dr Nicola Jennings discuss The Colour of Anxiety: Race, Sexuality and Disorder in Victorian Sculpture which they recently guest curated at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds with the Institute’s Head, Laurence Sillars.

Showing images from the exhibition, they review the challenges of presenting to a contemporary audience a selection19th century sculptures and paintings which responded to and reinforced problematic conceptions of the female body, race and sexuality. They also consider the positive response to the exhibition by the general public and local and national press, and how the experience demonstrates that a diverse range of visitors are interested and receptive to pre-modern artworks if they are interpreted in relevant ways.

Dr Childs is Adjunct Curator at the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. and independent scholar.

Dr Jennings is Director, Athena Art Foundation and Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Laurence Sillars is Head of the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.

Wednesday 20 September
14:00 – 15:00

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Charles Cordier, Venus Africaine, (African Venus) 1852.
Bronze, lent by His Majesty The King.
Photo: N. Jennings

Autograph ABP


Introducing “Shining Lights,” a critical anthology delving into the ground-breaking achievements of Black women photographers in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s. This publication, adorned with captivating images, unlocks a treasure trove of British photographic history including a remarkable range of colour work reflecting the diversity of practice during the period. This very important book sheds light on a significant and regrettably overlooked chapter. 

Join Joy Gregory and Roshi Naidoo for an Online presentation and in conversation to witness the publication’s vibrant stories unfold and breathe life into the experiences of Black women photographers during this transformative period. Gain an intimate and authentic understanding of what it truly meant to be a trailblazing Black woman working with photography in that  dynamic  era. 

Joy Gregory is an artist with a photographic practice focused on social and political issues, particularly exploring the history and cultural differences in present in contemporary society. 

Roshi Naidoo is an independent writer and researcher with an interest in the connection between stories told in museums and how a nation imagines itself. 

Thursday 21 September
15:00 – 16:30

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Self-portrait in black ski hat (contact sheet) ©  Joy Gregory

Christie’s Education

Colours of the World- Art History Festival


One in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women (.5%) are red-green colour blind. While people with normal colour vision see over one million hues of colour, the colour blind only see about 10% of them. To these people, colours appear dull, washed out and some colours are hard to tell apart. EnChroma glasses help those with colour vision deficiency see a broader range of vibrant, clear and distinct colour.

Join Cecilia Gerosa from EnChroma who will present a complimentary talk on the revolutionary Enchroma colour-blindness glasses which are assisting people with this deficiency and enabling them to view the true colours in works of art.

Thursday 21 September
18:00 – 19:00

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The interplay of colour and perception in art is undeniably a multifaceted and intriguing aspect of artistic expression. The very act of assigning names to colours is a remarkably complex endeavor. The human eye can perceive an astounding array of hues, shades, and tones, each carrying its own unique emotional resonance. Yet, language often struggles to capture the nuance and subtlety of these visual experiences. Artists and theorists have grappled with this challenge for centuries, endeavoring to convey the essence of colours through words, ultimately highlighting the limitations of linguistic expression when it comes to the richness of the visual world.

This confluence of historical and environmental factors underscores the notion that colour, while central to the visual arts, remains an enigmatic and elusive element that defies easy categorization and discussion. In essence, it is precisely this elusiveness that makes color one of the most intriguing and enduring challenges in the world of art.

Join Christie’s Education Lecturer, Ben Street, as he explores these rarely discussed topics.

Saturday 23 September
18:00 – 19:00

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Katya Ross

Design History society


This event will explore the use of colour in resistance against colonialism and the role that colours have played, and can play, in processes of decolonisation both historically, and in contemporary, indigenous and other colonised, cultures.

Three researchers in the field, Justine Woods (Toronto Metropolitan University), Dr Elli Michaela Young (Middlesex University)/ Design History Society and Dr Christo Kefalas (National Trust) will give short presentations on their ongoing work in the field followed by a round table chaired by Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable (London Metropolitan University/ Design History Society).

Sunday 24 September
19:00 – 21:00

This event has been postponed until January 2024

A participant in the Greater Than Fear Rally & March in Rochester
Minnesota, 2018. Photo: Laurie Shaull

Munnings Museum


Sir Alfred Munnings had a lifelong passion for seeing colour and light and an innate ability to capture these elements in his painting. Naturally gifted as a child, he honed his skills and gained the experience which made him one of the country’s foremost plein air painters.The exhibition showcases Munnings’s preoccupation with painting colour and light, and offers a very personal insight into his love of painting.

Exhibition is open Wednesday 20 September- Sunday 24 September during festival week.

From Tuesday 19 September

Click here to visit page

Curator’s Tour will be available online from Tuesday 19 September.

National galleries of scotland


To coincide with the publication of 5b’s new monograph on painter Carole Gibbons, artist Lucy Stein will speak about Gibbons’ work and her influence on later generations of artists.

Tuesday 19 September
12:45 – 13:30

Click here to book to attend in person

Click here to book to attend online

Carole Gibbons, The Bride. About 1965. © Estate of the Artist
National Galleries of Scotland. 



Colour can transform spaces and uplift environments in many different ways. The integration of colour can vary in chromatic flair and scale. It not only has aesthetic gains but also social benefits. The impact of using colour can be vast, both on a physiological and psychological level. It can transform spaces and influence how people inhabit these environments.

Join us as we explore examples of architecture that are bold in colour and character. We will explore the theory and practice of architects and designers who use colour in different ways to inspire and empower.

Tuesday 19 September
18:00 – 19:00

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Alhambra Court in the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London.
Perspective view of the reconstructed Court of the Lions seen
through Moorish archways. RIBA Ref No RIBA35917.



Creativity and Curiosity is an international art-science project led by visual artists Ione Parkin and Gillian McFarland, working in connection with astrophysicists, cosmologists and planetary scientists. The artists share insights into the artwork created in response to the rich imagery of space, exploring the nature of interdisciplinarity within the practice of visual thinking.

Ione Parkin is a Royal West of England Academician and Honorary Visiting Fellow, School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester. 

Gillian McFarland is a Scottish Society of Artists member, experienced creative collaborator and Art Therapist within NHS practices.

Wednesday 20 September
19:00 – 20:00

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Ione Parkin RWA, Turbulence, oil on canvas, 127cm x 102cm
© the artist 

Sheffield museums trust


Join James Knox from the Fleming Collection for an illustrated online talk on the four artists known as the Scottish Colourists – Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, John Duncan Fergusson, George Leslie Hunter and Samuel John Peploe.

Tuesday 19 September
18:00 – 19:00

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The Dunara Castle at Iona, Cadell, Francis Campbell Boileau, c.1929

V&A Academy


From steering the viewer’s gaze, to providing clues of hidden meanings, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the use of colour in art.

Discover more about these symbolisms with this one-hour free lecture from V&A Academy.

Led by lecturer Clare Ford, explore highlights of the V&A’s collection ranging from Frescos, the Raphael Cartoons, to impressive altarpieces and delve into the world of colour across different forms of art. 

Once you have booked your free place, you will receive a link to join the live lecture 24 hours before the event, as well as a link to the recording afterwards, so that you can enjoy watching the lecture on demand.

Tuesday 19 September
12:00 – 13:00

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Rapheal Cartoons, The Healing of the Lame Man (Acts 3: 1-8),
Victoria and Albert Museum, Lent by His Majesty The King 

Wallace Collection


JMW Turner’s use of vibrant, liberated colours – particularly the yellows he used in his oil paintings and watercolours – was much discussed by his contemporaries. Throughout his life, Turner was intellectually curious and so it is unsurprising that he was drawn to colour theory, particularly those ideas developed by the German writer, Wolfgang Goethe.

Today his innovative use of colours continues to fascinate and Dr Matthew Morgan’s talk will discuss how colour theory impacted on Turner’s experimentation. Examining his methods and techniques, this presentation will reveal how and why Turner’s radical use of colour has exerted an important influence on the development of art.

Wednesday 20 September
18:00 – 19:00

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Joseph Mallord William Turner, Hackfall, near Ripon,
 probably about 1816 (The Wallace Collection)

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