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Essay topic selection

I have to compose a 2,000 word essay if i wish to out in my course work for assessment. So thinking of a topic had been difficult with the entire history of art to choose from. I was thinking perhaps of artist groups or a movement but I think this is to complicated. Instead i have decided to concentrate on one artist.


Stanley Spencer is a really interesting and original artist. I am particularly interested in how he combines his home (namely Cookham) into his art. The book above has proved very useful and I am looking forward learning more about him and hopefully visiting Cookham too.




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.