Extended CPD : Opulence and Ornament – An introduction to Asian Art.

The cultures and histories of India, China, Japan and the Islamic World  have had a huge influence on our own culture, history and present-day lives, and they permeate the collections of museums and country houses across the land.

This course will aim to give guides confidence in discussing the items and themes of Asian art to be found throughout London’s museums and galleries, Royal Palaces and stately homes. The theme of East meets West will make this course especially relevant for Blue Badge Guides, and the course is designed to complement other Blue Badge Guide courses on Western Art.

The course will run on 5 consective days 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th February 2018

In lectures and visits, the course will give guides:

  • The opportunity to explore the riches of Asian and Islamic art and culture in the British and Victoria and Albert Museums (including the newly re-organised and augmented South Asian/Indian and Chinese galleries in the British Museum, due to re-open in the autumn of 2017).
  • An overview of the cultural context, history and religions of India, China, Japan and the Islamic World.
  • An understanding of Buddhist, Hindu, Daoist, Shinto and Confucian iconography and Islamic design to enable guides to identify the subject and intention of religious sculpture and artefacts, with reference to specific objects.
  • An understanding of the skills and techniques employed in creating the objects, sculpture, paintings and textiles to be viewed.
  • A knowledge of trade routes and contacts (e.g. the Silk Roads) and the role of the British Empire.
  • An understanding of the influences of these cultures on western arts and collections.
  • Handouts which will include as appropriate timelines, lecture and gallery object lists, aide memoires, reading lists.

Outline of Course

Day 1: Indian Art – Lectures and Gallery Visit to the new Indian/South Asian gallery in the British Museum

Have you ever wondered how to recognise the various Hindu gods and goddesses, or to explain the difference between a Buddha and a Bodhisattva? As well as giving an outline of Indian history, this day will focus on the identification and interpretation of key Indian religious sculpture.  We will also look at the luxurious Mughal decorative arts (e.g. jewellery, miniature paintings)  which dazzled Victorian Britain, the rise of the East India Company, the trade in Indian textiles and its influence on British society.

Day 2: Chinese Art – Lectures and Gallery Visit to the new China gallery in the British Museum

Why has China had such an influence on our culture? After a rapid overview of Chinese history, philosophies and religions, we shall focus on the stories told by specific objects, looking at jade, bronze and lacquer working; painting; the trade and production of silk and tea; and of course the emergence of Chinese porcelain.  We shall look at the influences of Chinese art on British society, taste and royal collections. The gallery visit will include a short session in the Percival David Collection.

Day 3: Japanese Art – Lectures and Gallery Visit to the British Museum

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword help to define Japan. This island’s long isolation from the world enabled it to create the most refined decorative arts in lacquer and ceramics. Zen Buddhism and Shinto traditions can be seen in the exquisite yet cruel beauty of Samurai swords. The woodblock prints of Hokusai depicting the ‘Floating world’ of Edo in the 19th century greatly influenced the Impressionists and the Aesthetic Movement.  The world of Manga and contemporary culture  will bring us up to date with Japanese art.

Day 4: Islamic Art – Lectures and Gallery Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

The death of the prophet Mohammed in 7th century brought about a transformation of faith and culture across the Middle East and North Africa within a century.  Shunning figurative art in its mosques, Islam turned to calligraphy, floral and geometric designs in its art. This is reflected in carpets, lustre ceramics, brasswork and glass from the Silk Road, traded from Dunhuang in China through Samarkand and Bukhara to Damascus.

Day 5: Gallery Visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum

The theme of this last day will be East meets West. Dipping into the Indian and Chinese galleries, we shall explore the British and European galleries to trace the influence of Asian art on our own trade and culture, looking at the eighteenth century fashion for Chinoiserie; the influence of Islam on such figures as William Morris, William de Morgan and Lord Leighton; the influence of Japonisme on the Aesthetic Movement; and the general influence of Asia on the Arts and Crafts movement.

Format of the Day.

The day will fall into two parts. In the morning there will be two lectures beginning at 10:00 am (with a break in between), held at the British Guild of Tourist Guides, Guild House, 52D Borough High Street, London SE1 1XN.

12:15-14:00. Lunch and travel to Galleries.

14:00-16:15. Gallery visit (divided into two groups) with practical sessions and guided tour. (15 min break included)

16:15 Day finishes.

Note: On the final day, as it will be based entirely  at the V&A (no lecture in the Guild), the course will finish around 15:30.

Course Organisers

Dr Barry Walsh.  London Blue Badge Guide (Year 2000).  Background in Western Art.  BA History of Art (Birkbeck).  Post Graduate Diploma in Asian art, SOAS  (Completing in July 2017). Certificate in Asian Art Victoria and Albert Museum 2016.

Doris Settle. London Blue Badge Guide (Year 2000). BA Birmingham in French; MA Berkeley, Ca. in Theatre. British Museum volunteer with special interest in Chinese art and ceramics. East Asian Ceramics courses, SOAS and V&A Museum. South & South East Asia course, V&A Museum.

 Practical  Information

The course will run for 5 days. Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th, Thursday 8th and Friday 9th February 2018.

Reasonable changes due to gallery availability may be made during the course.

Places available 32 (Please note if we have fewer than 26 participants the course may not go ahead and you will be advised of this nearer the date.)

Cost £280 (including booking fee. Once places booked non-refundable)

Out of stock

SKU: Asian Art Category: