This week is the week all my literature units visit the Art Gallery of NSW. What a wonderful storehouse it is of aesthetic wonders and inspirational ideas. A visit to the gallery provides a total wrap-around, hands-on experience of what was going on in a particular literary period. For all prospective teachers I cannot recommend more strongly the way that the visual imagination can profoundly amplify a student’s understanding of what was going on during the literary age being studied and also what wonderful aesthetic experiments were being conducted during the time.
The Blog Question for all our NSW Art Gallery goers this week is:Describe the impact on you of ONE of the paintings viewed on our tour- talk about how it has opened up your understanding of the key issues in the period we are studying!
In the Victorian Age -to take one obvious example- there was such a profound concern with “The Condition of England Question” that artists, writers and musicians were all trying to respond to this fundamental question about what was going wrong with England in the mid nineteenth century. The country on the surface seemed to be “doing well”; but then it all comes down to what this phrase “doing well” means. It might have been producing wonderful Wedgwood Pottery that was being sent all around the world (especially to the British Colonies), but the British working class being used to produce this pottery were being horribly abused. The country was in a deep crisis and artists and writers were desperate to come up with some answers. We begin to understand what Charles Dickens’ answer was. And yesterday we had a glimpse of what the Pre-Raphaelite answer was in that amazing work by Ford Madox Brown, Chaucer at the Court of Edward III:
Listen to what the curator of the gallery has to say about this work at: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/703/
I trust you all enjoyed your visits this week!