Ten years of ‘Ways of Seeing’

In 2017 we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of ‘Ways of Seeing’, our annual conference for A Level students and teachers which is focused on seeing and thinking differently about art and art history. It is a unique event that supports art history education in schools, colleges and galleries. Over the last decade Ways of Seeing has explored many different themes and ideas including propaganda, patronage, identity, gender, nationality and the body.

During this time the event has attracted over 2,500 sixth form students and hundreds of teachers and educators. Over the years we’ve worked in partnership with education and research departments at Tate, the British Museum and we are currently working with The National Gallery.

The 2017 Ways of Seeing took place on 25 November at The National Gallery.  The theme was War, Art and Architecture. Invited speakers responded to this theme through a broad and varied line-up of talks and presentations.

After a warm welcome from Gill Hart, former Head of Education at the National Gallery, we kicked off with an inspiring introduction about Trafalgar Square from Christine Riding, former Chair of Association for Art History. This was followed by Rosalind McKever, curator at The National Gallery, who explored war and art and futurism. Penny Wickson, teacher and chair of our former schools group, talked about the consequences of war and practice in transnational Impressionism.  We rounded up the morning sessions with a film showing an interview with artist Jeremy Deller about his work and war, which was conducted and produced by students at Godalming Sixth Form College.

During lunch artist-educator, Grant Simon Rogers led a ‘looking through drawing’ workshop for students using Peter Paul Ruben’s painting, ‘Peace and War’ as the focus. The teacher’s lunchtime forum focused on using critical texts as teaching resources.

The afternoon included student presentations from ARTiculation prize student, Alex West on Edward Ruscha, and SPoKE film competition winner, Amber Bardell with her film on Banksy.

Camilla Thomas from Imperial War Museum North delivered a thought-provoking talk about their current Wyndham Lewis exhibition, as well as on Leibskind’s architectural design for the museum. We closed the event with a visually stunning presentation by Helen Neven at Blenheim Art Foundation on Jenny Holzer’s new exhibition and commission, SOFTER, at Blenheim Palace.

We were delighted, once again, to see so many students at this year’s Ways of Seeing, particularly an increase in the number of students studying art and design and other A level subjects that engage with art history. We’ve been fortunate in recent years to benefit from the generous support of The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars. Their financial support allows us to offer 100 free places to students from across the UK. We are also very lucky to be able to work with staff and collections at the National Gallery on this nationally recognised event.

Thanks to everyone for helping us make Ways of Seeing 10th anniversary so successful, we’re looking forward to future ‘Ways of Seeing’ and encouraging even more people to think differently, and see differently about art.

Claire Davies, Deputy CEO of the Association for Art History

Image: Students from Godalming Sixth Form College show their filmed interview with artist Jeremy Deller about war and art at this year’s Ways of Seeing conference at the National Gallery

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