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Arthur Scargill by William Bowyer

A very interesting portrait of Miner’s Union leader Arthur Scargill, shown as most people would remember him, giving a speech. He has been painted in a way to show his passion and his conviction (particularly look at the pointing finger, the pursed lips and the stare in his eyes).

The viewers angle is very interesting as it is from below and to the side. Very similar to how he would have been filmed for TV back during his heyday. it works really well in terms of putting the viewer (of a certain age) back in that moment watching Arthur attacking Margaret probably at a union conference. It helps remind us of this social and cultural importance back in the 1980s. I assume that the painting was produced using photographs of the subject.

There is a certain degree of anger in his face, i wouldn’t say that the artist was necessarily a fan of Scargill as it is not sympathetic or idealised in any way.  The face has been painted using large brush strokes and patches of paint, it does not create a ‘beautiful’ image more of an impression of a very serious man at work. The suit and tie also adds to the sober feel. Interestingly the background is painted red just in case you were not aware of which side of the political divide Arthur was on.








Did and interest in Humanism mean a movement away from Christianity?

The idea of Humanism (that people are rational) became widespread as part of the Renaissance. The idea came out of the study of humanities (history, language, poetry, etc…) of the classical world. People who studied humanities had a much broader education and so were more rounded and had a strong moral ethic. There was an emphasis on the individual being part of their community and civic duty.

Humanism was a break away from more traditional learning which had been dominated by the clergy. This led to a more flexible approach to thinking about things that was not rooted on past traditions. Humanism was a direct development of urban living where the church’s control was diminished because of the development of civic society and commerce. It was also an age when science started to become more influential on how people thought (for example empiricism and critical thinking).

So to say that Humanism was  a movement away from Christianity is probably a too simplistic view of things. Humanism was more a realisation that Christianity provided one way of looking at things but Humanism showed that there were also many other ways just a useful and valid. It is probably more accurate to say that Humanism provided an alternative to Christian thought. I do not think that any Renaissance Humanist would have called themselves Atheist and it must be remembered that Classical Humanist writings had proved strong influences on many Christian thinkers of the past (for example, St Thomas Aquinas).

Assignment feedback

Overall no. 2 was satisfactory, again I have been advised to widen my reading which I think will be easier when covering the next assignment The Renaissance. My writing skills have apparently improved which us good but I do need to improve my skills of interpretation. All together not too bad but plenty of room for improvement.

Manchester Cathedral – the Choir

During the period 1422-1458 the construction of the Manchester Cathedral choir was undertaken. It is considered by many to be on of the finest examples in the country and probably the most celebrated feature of the Cathedral.


The intricate carving of the Choir is in a Gothic style which very much echoes the external architecture of the Cathedral, in particular the numerous finials.


The misreicords in the Choir are particularly fine, there are 30 different ones in total depicting many different things from two people playing backgammon through to flora and fauna. Here are a couple of examples.


They show a real flare, personality and rebellious nature which the is a departure from the rest of the choir which is very intricate and composed as you would expect in a religious building.











Manchester Cathedral stained glass windows

The older stained glass windows in the Cathedral were lost as the consequence of a direct hit from a WWII bomb. Now all the stained glass in the church dates from the 1970s onwards. The windows are very colourful and abstract in nature, here are a couple of examples. All the windows were created by Antony Holloway and were specifically designed to emphasise the Cathedral’s squareness and width.

The first one above is the Creation Window from 1991 and the depicts the chaos then order of Genesis. it includes key elements from the creation story (the sun, moon, stars, plus humans and the serpent. The second picture is the St George Window from 1972 elements for the dragon can be seen as well as his the Saint’s red cross.

The windows at first seem quite random in design but elements do emerge to the viewer the longer they are viewed (especially if you know the window’s name). The most abstract window is the Revelation Window 1995 (below).


The blocks of colour suggest the new Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation. Below you can see how the modern stained glass works with the Gothic vaulting.


I think that because the windows are so abstract they retain a timeless quality which doesn’t date them to a particular. The window above is the St Mary Window from 1980. Because it doesn’t specifically feel 1980s in design i think it does compliment the Gothic ceiling adjacent.

Some information for this post is from the Manchester Cathedral publication “A Wall of Light” which is available from the Cathedral.




chapter 9 AWHOA

notes for chapter 9 – Medieval Europe

Political, economic and social factors

Charlemagne died in 814 after which there were invasions form Vikings, Islam and Magyars. Very turbulent times. 10th Century the Romanesque style emerges after Muslims pushed out of Italy and the city states develop (church rebuilding programme started). 11th Century the Gothic style emerges. During 10/11th Century Germany and France start developing their own cultural identity fuelled partly by the church. Gothic cathedrals built in a way to bring the community together both through construction and its place in the heart of the town/city, it also helped commerce in terms of attracting pilgrims. 13th Century decline in mosaic production to economic downturn, people turned to wall painting instead which was much cheaper. Bubonic plague hit Europe in 1348 which led to the greater strangle hold of the rich and powerful in society (especially land owners and merchants). As a consequence commissioning of art by secular powers developed and led onto a flourishing of art and inventiveness paving way for the Renaissance.

Changes to status or training of Artists

Monks were taught to produce illuminated manuscripts. Rise of the ‘Master Mason’ they would travel around and get ideas from other Cathedrals to bring back and develop on their own projects. Up until the emergence of Giotto painters are not valued very highly or treated very well. Giotto broke the mould and became both wealthy and celebrated in his lifetime. He really developed patronage to his own advantage.

Development of materials and processes

During Medieval period both the production of stained glass and illuminated manuscripts was developed. Romanesque = dev. of the barrel vault and the internal buttress. Gothic = dev. of the groin vault and external buttress. Buttresses and arches generally dev. to help with problems of ever increasing dimensions of Cathedrals in this period but were turned into notable decorative features themselves during the Gothic period. Church figure carving becomes more realistic and naturalistic during Gothic period. Fresco/secco painting developed as mosaic died out.

Styles and movements

Stained glass developed as a way for the church do display Gospel events to the masses (i.e. those who could not read the bible themselves). Helped to spread the church’s message.

Romanesque style emerged, was quite conservative and backward looking (began in Tuscany). Outside of churches reflect inside, lots of geometrical patterns. Style spread to other parts of Italy then across Europe fuelled by monasteries being set up. Romanesque has origin in Roman engineering.

Gothic developed after starting in France (St Denis, Paris), then spread to other parts of France and then England, Germany and Italy. See next page for main differences between two styles. Attempt to unite heaven and earth for the brethren through soaring architecture, diffused light through the windows, etc… – give an unearthly feel detached from normal life. Cathedral helps to reinforce the faith and revels in the glory of god.


Critics, thinkers and historians

The term Romanesque was coined in the 19th Century as a derogatory term meaning debased Roman.