Reframing Realism

By Dr Judith Walsh

Don McCullin  Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin 1961

Don McCullin Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin 1961

I decided to title my course ‘Reframing Realism’ in an effort to position realist art as interesting and radical as abstract art.

My PhD focused on British realist painting of the post-war period but I also looked at how painters in Europe and America used figuration and realism to explore the new social and political conditions in which they were working. I am very interested in how contemporary artists respond to the particular societies in which they live and how they communicate those responses to us as viewers.

Some of my research looked at the fascinating history of realism in the visual arts and I will share some of that research in our discussions at Tate. But we need to start by working out what we mean when we talk about realist art. Are we actually talking about figurative art? Does it have to represent something we know in the ‘real’ world?

I also want us to think about the different categories of realism such as Social Realism and Socialist Realism and think about the ways in which these art movements have an impact on the art produced today. Basing this courHere – enrol onlinese at Tate Liverpool presents us with some exciting learning experiences as we will be utilising the Constellation displays, looking at the art and discussing our responses to it on the gallery. Tate describes the Constellation displays on its website: ‘At the heart of each constellation is a ‘trigger’ artwork, chosen for its profound and revolutionary effect on modern and contemporary art. Surrounding the trigger works are artworks that relate to it and to each other, across time and location.  Visitors to constellations can enjoy an imaginative display of art works by Henri Matisse, Barbara Hepworth, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Rachel Whiteread, Glenn Ligon and many, many more.

Reframing Realism will take place at Tate Liverpool on Saturday 7 November. Tate are providing a dedicated learning space, coffee and as much time as we want on the galleries to explore these wonderful artworks. This is a day course for anyone interested in thinking about art-no experience needed.

If you would like to reserve your place on this course you can do by clicking here – enrol online

2015 John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture – ‘A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return?’

Ghada Karmi

‘A Palestinian Memoir:

Where next for the right of return?’

Thursday 22 October, 6pm

The Quaker Centre, 22 School Lane, (near the Blue Coat Chambers), Liverpool

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This year the John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture will be delivered by Ghada Karmi. One of the most passionate and articulate advocates of the cause of the Palestinian people, Ghada is the author of the best-selling In Search of Fatima (Verso 2002). She has also recently published A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return? (2015).

In her writings she has described the harrowing experience that she and her family went through during the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) of 1948 when many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the terrorism of the emerging Israeli state. The great majority were displaced to refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; those who are still alive remaining there with their descendants to this day. Currently around five million UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees live in camps after an expulsion lasting nearly 70 years.

Ghada and her family came eventually to London. Her father had worked for the BBC in Palestine and was able to take up a post with its Arabic service. However, the Karmi family always lived with a sense of displacement and longing for their original home and culture. In 2005, after many years of political activism campaigning for the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland, Ghada took up an opportunity in 2005 to work as a media consultant with the Palestinian Authority. In her most recent book she tells of the frustrations of that experience, working with an organisation that whilst mimicking the manner and organisational style of a ‘state’ is actually powerless to achieve justice for Palestinians, dominated always by the political and military power of Israel.

However, she also insists that just as her own generation looks now to the young educated Palestinians who today staff the various UN funded projects and campaign offices of the Palestinian Authority, so too do they need to know the story of the 1948 generation in order to make sense of their struggle today.

For more information go to: www.liv.ac.uk/cll/johnhamiltonlectures

To book go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/john-hamilton-lecture-a-palestinian-memoir-where-next-for-the-right-of-return-tickets-18069417113

Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

By Dr Shirley Jones

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Twenty years ago, Kate Atkinson’s first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was published. Its heroine, Ruby Lennox, tells the story of her life from before conception to adulthood with ‘footnotes’ relating to her ancestors, such as her great grandmother who in a moment of despair leaves 6 children to run off with a ‘magician’ or angelic Uncle Albert, who ‘collected good days the way other people collected coins or postcards.’. Cataclysmic historical events such as the two world wars affect Ruby’s family dramatically whilst lesser landmarks, such as the 1953 Coronation and the 1966 World Cup final provide wonderful comic set pieces. At the heart of the novel is a mystery, for the seemingly omniscient Ruby, does not in fact know all.

Family, identity and heritage are consistent themes in Atkinson’s work as is history and the passing of time. Atkinson’s 2004 novel, Case Histories, opens with 3 unexplained crimes from the past which the novel’s hero, Jackson Brodie, is called upon to unravel. As we follow his progress we come to understand that his own personal history is shaped by devastating loss. In the Jackson Brodie series (four novels to date), Atkinson’s plotting is complex and compelling. At the same time these novels are rich tales of contemporary life with all of its comic absurdity, violence, and love.

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Atkinson’s recent 2013 Costa Novel Award winner, Life after Life represents the pinnacle of her achievement so far, narrating the multiple possibilities of one woman’s life. Over and over again we are told the tale of Ursula Todd, and her many deaths and extraordinary lives. Astonishingly, this narrative experimentation does not lessen the reader’s emotional involvement with the character but enchants and ensnares.

The most wonderful thing about Atkinson’s writing is that whatever form it takes, family saga, short story, crime novel, experimental fiction, her work is always absolutely readable.

Reading list: 

Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1995

Kate Atkinson, Not the End of the World, 2002

Kate Atkinson, Case Histories, 2004

Kate Atkinson, Life after Life, 2013

Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, 2015

Shirley will be teaching Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson at the Central Library from Thursday 15 October, 2-4.30pm for 8 meetings. If you would like to book on that course you can enrol online here Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

 

shirley-jones@ndo.co.uk