Art History Breaks



Join us here in the pretty harbour town of Kirkcudbright, known nationally as “The Artists Town”.

The story of its artists’ colony is full of examples of artists arriving on a summer painting visit and staying on for the rest of their lives. The reasons why Kirkcudbright attracted so many painters and became an artists’ colony are not difficult to discern. It was, and remains, perhaps the most attractive small town in Scotland with impressive architecture. There is the High Street with its ancient Tollbooth and the 18th century town houses enlivened by their variously and sometimes eccentrically painted frontages, the myriad colours giving the street an exotic, almost continental, atmosphere. Between the houses are cobbled, crooked wynds, many of which contain artist’s and craftsmen’s studios. McLellan’s Castle an imposing sixteenth century ruin in the middle of the town, dominates the skyline. When E.A.Taylor asked Hornel why he thought Kirkcudbright was so popular with artists he said, “Well, it’s a fine old town and not too big, but big enough to keep you from vegetating.


Art Appreciation Weekends Selkirk Arms Hotel Kirkcudbright 2018

March 9th – 11th and November 2nd – 4th

The Selkirk art appreciation weekends are designed to increase your enjoyment of art in a relaxed and informal setting. There is time during the illustrated talks for questions and discussion. Your tutor Jeremy Carlisle BA (Hons) MA is a practising artist and art historian.



For this year’s weekend courses we will be taking a look at five ‘masters of modernism’: Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, Chaim Soutine, Barbara Hepworth and David Jones. Chaim Soutine is the odd man out here. His expressionist style will make a contrast to the British artists’ native lyricism. Our artists, all much of a generation, lived through a period of momentous change. We will consider their different responses to these changes.

Michaelmas Landscape             oil on canvas                       1943

PAUL NASH 1889 – 1946 Paul Nash’s aim in painting was to create a poetic sense of place. He found inspiration in the stone circles, Neolithic burial sites, long-barrows and hill-top forts of southern England. He was an official war artist in both the first and the second world wars. His work in the First World War, particularly images that depict the aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele is a powerful record of the effects of industrialised war. He successfully incorporated Surrealist imagery into his interwar landscapes, taking from Surrealism what was necessary for his purposes but no more. Towards the end of his life he produced some of the great landscape paintings of the 20C. They are infused with a profound feeling of our relationship to nature. They embody, I think, the idea that the land, the seasons and their rhythms are of central importance to our wellbeing and to our sense of connection to the world around us and of our connection to each other.

The Wilmington Giant             watercolour             1939

ERIC RAVILIOUS 1903 – 1942 Ravilious had a genius for design. Like many artists of his generation he worked across a wide range of media: wood-engraving, lithography, book illustration, ceramic design. He is best remembered though for his delightfully lucid watercolours. Landscapes of the South Downs, gardens, interiors, harbour and coast scenes were his preferred subjects. He was an informed and intelligent painter and made of modernism something quintessentially radiant and English. He was commissioned as a war artist in 1940 and died, lost at sea, on a reconnaissance and rescue flight in Iceland in 1942.

Le Patissier de Cagnes     oil on canvas     1922

CHAIM SOUTINE 1893 – 1943 Soutine was a Belarusian Russian Jew. Arriving in Paris in 1912 he spent the remainder of his life in France. His need to paint was pathological. No painter has worked with more electrifying intensity. His subject matter was traditional: still-life, landscape, portraiture but his manner of painting was anything but traditional. It was as though the expressionist vitality and physical presence of his canvases reminded him, affirmed for him that there was certainty, something concrete in the world beyond his own experience and that it was there his nervous disposition could find a place of refuge.

Ball, Plane and Hole     wood                                   1936

BARBARA HEPWORTH 1903 – 1975 Hepworth was a pioneer of abstract sculpture. Working in plaster, stone, marble and bronze she said she wanted to create living things in art but in abstract forms. Moving to St Ives from London in 1939 she spent the rest of her life there. The menhirs, standing stones, in the Cornish landscape were instrumental to her imagining and understanding of the figure in the landscape; the relationship between ourselves and gravity. These concepts initiated a series of sculptures of abstract standing figures and family groups. We will also look at a remarkable series of drawings made in the operating theatre of Exeter hospital 1946 -48. They are a beautiful and moving testament to the skill of hospital staff; their dedication, care and cooperation.


Format for the Weekend

Arrive in your own time on Friday afternoon Meet your hosts and lecturer Jeremy Carlisle for pre-dinner drinks and canapés at 6.30pm in the Burns Room. 7.00pm -7.45pm   illustrated introductory talk to the weekend 8.00pm – 3 course dinner


7.15am – 9.15am    Breakfast in your own time

9.30am                   illustrated talk

11.00am approx    coffee & shortbread in Bistro area

11.30am approx    illustrated talk

1.00pm                   soup and sandwich lunch Free time to explore Kirkcudbright’s galleries, shops etc.

6.30pm meet for pre-dinner drinks and canapés in the Burns Room

7.00pm                  illustrated talk

8.00pm                  3 course dinner


7.15am – 9.15am   Breakfast in your own time

9.30am                 illustrated talk

11.00am                coffee & shortbread in the Bistro

11.30am                illustrated talk

1.00pm                 soup and sandwich lunch Goodbyes and departures

£259.00 per person, includes Dinner Bed and Breakfast, welcome drink & canapés, coffee breaks, soup and sandwich lunches.

Booking: Telephone. Selkirk Arms Hotel 01557 330402