Dame Laura Knight
Laura Knight, who died 50 years ago this July at the age of 92, was a prolific artist who broke new boundaries for women, establishing herself at the forefront of British 20th-century art.
In a career spanning nearly 70 years, beginning as a 13 year old student in Nottingham, she chronicled many of the major events of the 20th century, from cutting edge ballet and drama to both world wars. Her portraits span British high society to segregated America, and her studies of friends and family in the English countryside, including in Cornwall, are among her most popular works. Through Laura Knight’s own words and a wide selection of her oil paintings and works in other media we will trace her wide-ranging career from her early days in Nottingham, to the Yorkshire coast, Cornwall, London, America and the Malverns.
Within a broader historical context we will also examine the significance of her appointment as the first woman to become full member of the Royal Academy in over 150 years, and only the third since its inception in 1768.
Joanna is an independent art historian, researcher, lecturer, and retired history teacher with over 20 years’ experience up to A level and Oxbridge entrance. She holds a B.Ed. degree and an MA in History of Art with Distinction from Birkbeck, University of London, which included modules on the Northern and Venetian Renaissance, and 18th century British art. Subsequent research towards a PhD has centred on the 18th century London art world. Her article, ‘From Parrots to Princes: Exhibitions of Contemporary Stained Glass in Late Eighteenth-century London’. appeared in the online journal Vidimus, Issue 53, July/August 2011. In keeping with her support for lifelong learning in its fullest sense, she presents her independent series of art history lectures across a range of venues in Somerset and has also taught U3A groups in Glastonbury and Wells, as well lectured sixth formers, parents and teachers at Wells Cathedral School. Future projects include short courses for several branches of the WEA, a special presentation for the Western Front Association to coincide with commemorations of the Armistice in 1918, additional lectures at Wells Cathedral School and a collaboration with Wells Film Centre. Her art historical interests include patronage, display, spectatorship, the changing status of art and artists, and the roles and achievement of women as artists. Central to her approach is an understanding of the context in which works of art were produced and experienced, in order to allow the ‘bigger picture’ surrounding them to emerge and in so doing enrich and enlarge the encounter.
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