Those who know me well seemed a little bemused as to why I decided to go to evening college and study A-Level Art History. But what they fail to realise is that studying Art at school and then Fashion Design at University doesn’t mean anything when it comes to Art History. Okay, so I agree I have a pretty good knowledge of art periods and social history but my knowledge is minuscule compared to the plethora of artists, paintings, sculptures, architecture and events in history that are covered in a course that stretches from Ancient Greece to Pop Art of the 1960s.
Yes, it is daunting and sometimes I think I am never going to remember everything, but I love it. “So what are my favourite paintings, sculptures and architecture?” I hear you cry. Well…
Saint Eulalia by J.W. Waterhouse
I saw this at the J. W. Waterhouse at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and it physically took my breath away. The sheer scale of it is amazing, standing at almost 2 metres and the way it was hung meant that your eye-line was exactly level with the top of Eulalia’s body meaning the perspective was exactly right. The stark whiteness & the blood red of her clothing makes it increasingly chilling and I just stopped and stared at it for about 15 minutes. The snow is so crisp and delicate and is complimented by a bright white dove in the top left hand corner which, according to the story, emerged from Eulalia’s mouth at the moment of her death.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia – 1554 – 1560
Photo by Tinou Bao
I visited Russia in 1989 on a school trip (yes, a school trip! Not sure they realised what they were doing). It was one hell of an eye opener, but that is another long story that can wait. We visited Red Square, The Kremlin & The Winter Palace but I fell in love with Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It always makes me smile. To me it looks like it should be Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory not a church. The domes on top look like squishy marshmallows and the outer walls look like wafers!
Girl with Hair Ribbon by Roy Lichtenstein
I’m a huge fan of Roy Lichtenstein and it’s really hard to choose which is my favourite! I saw a selection of his work in the Tate Modern and was fascinated by his haystacks and the way they were created. Girl with Hair Ribbon is the one that stands out for me probably because of the eye contact the girl makes with the viewer. It drawers you in and makes you feel the sadness she is expressing.
Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Edgar Degas
The reason this is one of my favourite sculptures is because it isn’t just made from bronze, marble, wax or clay as many other sculptures are. Degas wanted to make her as natural as possible and although her body is formed in wax, he decided to create her clothes by using real fabrics. The skirt of tulle, silk bodice and the little ribbon in her hair add to the realism of this delicate, yet strained ballerina.
The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer
The Milkmaid on the Essential Vermeer website
The quietness of this painting makes you feel a real sense of calmness. I like the fact that the subject isn’t anyone rich, important or religious, she’s just an ordinary girl going about her business. It feels like you’ve just stumbled over a insignificant moment in someone’s life but you just have to stop and watch just to soak in the peace.