Reflection on Part 2

I think for the reflections for this part it is a question of where do I start?  I found the module very daunting and freely admit to procrastinating as much as I did over over homework as a teenager (complete with Solitaire card game!) simply because of the amount of reading and not being able to work out how on early you could get a 60 page chapter summarised in 1 single page.  My fears were really daft considering these 3 chapters encompass some of my favourite artistic and architectural periods of all and I knew I would thoroughly enjoy them overall.

During the course of the reading I found myself rereading constantly to try and understand all the technical terms and how the architecture or sculpture developed and realising just how much political, social and economic effects had on the arts of all natures.  Some aspects came as a surprise particularly in how extensive Greek culture was and the influence it had on other civilisations – basic history teaches you it is the foundation of art and you know it was a huge civilisation but just how much influence it has on modern art today is still a revelation.  With Greek arts you do not realise fully the effect it had on Roman art and the influence it had through that on medieval art and forwards into present day – you do not realise just how much their script or art forms or knowledge resonates down the centuries to modern life. It was interesting to fully realise the full effect of how one aspect of life or beliefs had a direct impact on another – you know that war is going to impact on trading for negative or eventually positive reasons but you do not fully appreciate with the pace of modern life how much religious beliefs impact on art too.  To study a culture and civilisation that I love and have had the priviledge to visit was more revealing than I expected – I have been to the Acropolis and the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus in Athens and also to Olympia and seen the museum there but now want to go back in the future with the knowledge gained through this module alone and with further study.

Yesterday due to a family emergency the day before my fiance and I went out to the National Aboretum near Burton and there was a new statue to the Medical Corps and looking at it closely I saw evidence of classic sculpture in the form and naturalistic style – the bronze work and the detail of the statue was reminiscent of the Greek, Roman and medieval versions in way the clothing was sculpted.  Even the balance of the figures I can now understand how this was developed so that there is rhythm to to it and the figures are caught in a moment between two movements.The faces of the two men had the expressiveness first really seen in the medieval period – lessons learnt that have come down the centuries but which were developed from these periods.


The other noticeable aspect yesterday was the use of marble as the Romans had done to clad buildings  – many of the plinths or memorials were of marble which enhanced the solemness of the statue but gave that air of dignified elegance of the Roman period.  Simple details that I am now noticing that have their roots in antiquity and understand a sculptors influence.

Going forward into Roman art I shamefully was unaware of how many Roman statues were Greek copies or how they had adapted them through the effective use of a Greek ‘stock’ body and added a portrait style head.  I understood that the Roman’s had taken many Greek gods and renamed them but didn’t understand just how much influence the Greek culture that went before had on them.

With both civilisations I learnt how much they influenced other cultures and vice versa – I was unaware of much about the Etruscans or Scythians although had heard of the animal style and knew there was a civilisation in Italy before the Greek and Roman populations.

I now finally understand the origins of oligarchy, tyranny and democracy and their true means of the words and how the city states developed – all small details that had a huge impact on the people of the time and the development of the arts but the historical aspect you are barely taught in schools.

The medieval period is the one though that has given me further research ideas both for this course and also my textiles courses – I am fascinated by the opus Anglicanum and the Bayeaux Tapestry and my interest in medieval manuscripts is renewed.  I am still not sure I understand though the complexities of  medieval art – the architecture seems more straightforward and more defined in many ways as opposed to the development of the arts.  It is frustrating that so little is known of the artists and I find their status as lowly labourers almost abhorrent for the skills involved from stone masons to painters to mosaic artists – their technical skills in many aspects I feel far out weigh the skills of the modern day because they did not have the technology that we do.  I felt I began to understand the frescoes and panel painting – the methods involved now make sense but I will be re-reading in the coming month the pages describing the painting or the styles to try to gain a better knowledge.  Although my fiance and I are incredibly interested in the medieval period to study in depth the aspects of the paintings and the effects of the ecclesiastical patronage is a whole new developing field of interest – I feel I may take sections of some of the paintings  pictured in World History of art and try to draw them in rough form or try to reproduce the colours to gain a better understanding.

The architectural aspects that ran through all periods made more sense and the fact that painters were able to suggest recession in their art and develop further trompe l’oeil effects along with naturalisation has been a revelation – again I want to go back to reread these pages but with a view to concentrating on separate aspects … for me I feel I need to break the paintings down into architectural, religious and secular aspects and try to understand further how the painter portrayed each or developed the style of the Gothic period.  I wish I could go back to Roman and Greek times and compare more fully how the periods had developed from one another.

I think my fascination and enthusiasm are my strong points but my weak points are still very much my note taking – it is too lengthy still but on the other hand my longer main notes of my learning log I am realising I can take out the aspects I feel are more important and get them down into brief summary notes even if my style is still  narrative at this point.  I felt a lot more comfortable with  note taking and tried various different methods including visual notes where I stuck the main subject in the middle and then the 6 subject/paragraphs around them and although this was useful preferred eventually to just make notes in the columns of the book (World History of Art only) or on sheets of paper with ‘social’ or ‘political’ or ‘status’ alongside with initials for must know, could know or should know accompanying them and this worked better for me – it is still long winded but did enable me to see the development of the subject clearer.  I am aware my note taking and my writing up still needs to develop further – it is an aspect I am struggling with but also now feel am gaining in confidence.

Regarding the assessment criteria:

  • Demonstration of subject-based knowledge and understanding – I am unsure in my summary notes if I am able to demonstrate this as effectively as I would like but feel in my longer notes I am developing this and beginning to be able to show it.  I do need to get my notes down into shorter more concise form so that this knowledge is seen more clearly.  I think the aspect I am struggling more with is the institutional contexts and am aware I need to work on this aspect.
  • Demonstration of research skills – my referencing system is developing and I am coming back to 3 posts to put my bibliography into the Harvard Referencing system over the coming days.  I am beginning to be able to show however that I am researching and reading more and in fact have found some articles I have saved over the past few months that I will be adding to this section of notes on as further research – I thought I had thrown them accidental but happily had just misfiled with some textile research. I also beginning to research further from a variety of sources although again this is still developing as I gain in confidence and discover new sources – I am aware that my primary sources for this part of the course have including two visits to the Ashmolean Museum and the Roman Villa which were invaluable as I could see the casts of statues and the layout of the villa along with the beautiful mosaic floor.  I am also starting to get more discerning with IT sources and this will continue to develop.
  • Demonstration of critical and evaluation skills – I am still unsure of how well I am demonstrating my skills on this aspect but I do feel I have managed to engage with concepts etc much better with this part of the course.  I also feel I have begun to analyse better and interpret relevant issues also – as the chapters were read I began to under the medieval art better because of my subject knowledge the Roman and Greek and will also be studying now for personal interest the chapters of Eastern art due to their influence on western art and to gain a background knowledge (even if only very brief reading I feel this is important for me to do).  I think my weak points are still critical thinking and reflection but hope I am beginning to show evidence of gaining knowledge in how to do these.
  • Communication – again this comes down to my current style of note taking as I am aware I need to shorten them so they are still more concise but at the same time I am finding a combination of longer learning log notes combined with a shortened summary seems to be able to communicate my ideas and knowledge.  I am aware the supporting with visual material is not an issue as I have been able to add in photographs of my visits very easily and am also working on my sketchbook work more extensively too so I can gain in confidence and take my sketchbook out so am not so reliant on my camera.

I have earmarked several photos within World History of Art for sketchbook work and also several areas where I want to go back and read again – the painting so of the medieval period being the prime ones but concentrating more on the individual aspects of architecture, figurative and religious aspects (separating them down more for my own understanding). Further as said I have noted various personal interest research work which I have a suspicion will end up in both this learning log and my textile learning log with the appropriate variations and so this part has raised further interests still and questions I want answers too.

I am still very unsure confidence wise on whether I have done my notes appropriately or have got the important aspects down in each of the categories and felt that some aspects ‘fitted in to’ two or more of the headings as each section had such a direct effect on another.  On the other hand I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading when I stopped procrastinating at last and found the in depth study totally absorbing but leaving me with a distinct thirst to learn more about these 3 periods along with excitement to learn now about the subsequent art periods.


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