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Every picture tells a story

20 Aug 2019

Anyone in any culture at any time in human history who has ever created a work of art has a story to tell. Studying Art History – traditionally the fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, but also moving images, photography, crafts and everyday objects – helps elucidate the messages hidden in the visual world, and understand their influence on our sense of place, our history and culture.

On Friday 16 August, Art History Day at UC gave students from schools all over Christchurch the opportunity to find out why Art History is so relevant in a well-rounded liberal arts education. With lectures on the fine art of forgery and the impact fakes and forgeries have on the art world and the power art has to witness and record environmental change, plus a tour of the School of Fine Arts and opportunities to see works from the UC Art Collection and Macmillan Brown Archives, as well as an Art History quiz, there was plenty to keep everyone interested.

“It was fascinating,” says Year 13 student Tom Kelly. “I found it really interesting to see what it’s like beyond high school and to see how studying art history teaches you so much about society, how to look at the bigger picture, form and discuss ideas, and analyse and critique what you see. I feel like everyone should have some sort of knowledge of the arts.”

Tom particularly enjoyed the opportunity to tour the School of Fine Arts.

“To go round and have a look at the studios and spaces for sculpture and painting and to see the students at work ... for someone who isn’t an artist, it’s amazing to think there’s a whole programme of study where people just create art, doing exactly what they want to do. It gave me a whole new appreciation of how art and art history complement each other. Art is for anyone.

“Art history and art appreciation teach you how to analyse and critique art, and in fine arts you’re actually creating works of art. Artists should study art history because it gives them the background knowledge of the people, artists, movements and styles, gives them the cultural context for their work.”

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