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Learning through the Art Gallery

Learning through the Art Gallery is a two-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It is led by Dr. Claudine van Hensbergen (PI) at Northumbria University, in collaboration with Anne Fountain at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, and the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. 

The project will run between February 2019 and December 2021, and aims to create a new ‘learning offer' through which KS4/5 pupils studying English can visit the Laing and Shipley for educational workshops. We aim to demonstrate how art collections can help pupils to develop and improve their study of language, literature and creative writing, whilst inspiring their wider interest in the Arts. Our collaboration builds upon a number of joint-ventures in recent years, and includes the input of many colleagues both from Northumbria’s English staff and postgraduate student body, and from staff and volunteers at the Laing and Shipley Galleries. For more information on our schools-facing workshops and on work with local teachers please visit our website.

The AHRC project also supports van Hensbergen's research into the relationship between art and literature at the turn of the eighteenth century. Exploring a transformative moment in the history of this relationship, van Hensbergen is publishing a number of articles as well as writing a monograph, provisionally titled The Making of Monument in Britain, 1660-1736. This study argues that the aftermath of the English Civil Wars gave rise to a newfound preoccupation with ideas of monument, in which the wider Arts were utilised to rewrite history and shape posterity. This is illustrated most clearly through the raising of numerous public statues in London and beyond. Yet these more visible sculptural monuments were part of a wider cultural discourse that included poetry, theatre, painting and other media. The period saw a new engagement with the classical past as it sought to draw on, and adapt, concepts of monument, reconceptualising the very role of the Arts in the lives of the British people.

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Caption: Laing Art Gallery. Credit: Sasha Blythe

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