The Art of Seeing

Romanticism: Re-turning to the Imagination

Thursday 30th May 2024 

 7-8pm UK time via Zoom

with Mary Attwood  


“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is – Infinite
For man has closed himself up, 
till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”

William Blake

 This session will be recorded.

In this month’s Art of Seeing session, one work of Art from the period known as Romanticism will be our focus. During the mid 18th century in Europe there was a shift in ideas – from the orderly containment of Nature, and the creation of a Roman campagna in the land and homes of the wealthy – to seeing Nature’s beauty in its wildness and also through architectural ruins.  There was a return to the imagination as a valid mode of being, drawing together the visual expression of Nature and the emotional, intuitive and spiritual evocation of the human being to Nature’s unpredictability and beauty. 

Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of the Sublime and the Beautiful was hugely influential from 1756 and contributed to a new perception of things which stressed the primacy of psychology in artistic practice. A new validation was given to the emotions – a radical shift from the Augustan ideals of harmony and proportion. People looked ‘beyond’ to wilder terrain, mountains and unexplored lands. The change in the aesthetic perception of Nature coincided with the Agricultural Revolution which created the English landscape of today. By 1780s and 1790s increasing urbanisation, along with the ‘tidying up’ of the countryside due to the Agricultural Revolution, rendered that which had previously not been appealing, more and more appealing. 

Helping to guide us through our work of art will be the writings of Edmund Burke, William Blake and Wordsworth. 

This session offers a tripartite approach of theory, practice and reflection and you are encouraged to participate as much or as little as you like. The work of art will not be revealed until the evening, but it is an image which evokes a sense both of the human being’s place in Nature, and the human spirit drawn out into the reaches of Nature, mediated by the imagination.


These sessions are £10 per person. Please book directly through Mary Attwood’s website by clicking here.

This session will be recorded.

About Mary Attwood

Mary is co-founder and director of The Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred, an art historian, author, teacher and mentor. She is co-founder and director of Channel McGilchrist, was the founding Chairman of the Victoria branch of The Arts Society, is a qualified practitioner of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, has published two books with Watkins, and has recently published an ancestral family book. She holds a BA hons degree in the History of Art from UCL and Birkbeck, and an MA with distinction in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred from CCCU.

Mary’s teaching and research seek to offer a broader understanding of art, not as an object to be analysed, but as a bridge between seemingly disparate ways of understanding the world and our place in it. While honouring the historical, broadening perceptions of art beyond rationalising analysis, categories and styles, opens doorways both in us and in the image. But beyond this, how we look at art art can reveal ways of knowing and seeing that change not only what we see in art, but change us and the world around us, and can help us meet the complexities of modern living by offering a renaissance of humane values.

You can find out more via her website

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