Awakening Beauty

A two week course on Beauty in Art 

With Mary Attwood

 Monday 19th June & Monday 26th June

 10am – 12pm UK time via Zoom


“Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it.”

Sir Roger Scruton

When our attention to beauty diminishes and when we cease co-creating with it, we need to be concerned. In our modern day, we seem to have neglected beauty in Art and in Architecture and in doing so we have neglected a crucial part of ourselves. We need beauty as much as we need food. But our views of beauty today have become distorted. As the depth psychologist James Hillman said, beauty is not ‘prettiness’.

This two week course will explore beauty in Art across a broad time frame to modern day. We will firstly consider how beauty is defined and whether it is only in the eye of the beholder or perhaps, it is in fact something which embodies universal truths. We will question how interconnected is beauty with the divine? How has beauty shown her / his face? The goddess Venus or Aphrodite; the divine feminine and masculine; goodness; kindness?

Guided by the works of Art themselves, we will look at when beauty first awakened and was brought into the tangible images we now call Art as we explore some extraordinary works from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Romanticism and the Impressionist period.  As we move forward in time we will see how works of art changed in a period which I term ‘when beauty slept’ – the period of industrialisation and interestingly, a time when the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales had only recently been written, including the Sleeping Beauty. We will look at how some artists took the story of Sleeping Beauty as subject matter for their painting and what this might mean symbolically. We will venture into the world of Modernism in Art and ask whether beauty is still present, revealing and then concealing her / his face.  This course will be visually rich and historical facts will be linked to ‘bigger picture’ thinking with philosophers such as Sir Roger Scruton, James Hillman, the artists themselves and from ideas about beauty from the periods we will cover, ultimately asking can we awaken beauty in our world today?

This course will be recorded for those who live in a different time zone or simply can’t make the scheduled time. 

About Mary Attwood 

Mary is co-director of the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred, an art historian, writer, lecturer, business creative and mentor. You can read her full bio here


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