Exclusive afternoon event for Members

Meet at the Headley Lecture Theatre

The event is divided into three sections: talks, gallery tours and discussion, with refreshments

Exclusively for Members

With Alice Foster, art historian & James Cahill, novelist, art historian and critic

Why do we look at art? What stories does art hold, where do these meanings come from, and why do we search for them?

For centuries, myths and allegorical stories were the mainstay of classical and ‘high art’ in European culture. But from the turn of the 20th century, Modernisms rejected and offset tradition. Yet we still strive to interpret meanings from such works; as we still attempt to celebrate and relate to past civilisations’ allegorical scenes. Why? What is the meaning of our search for art’s meaning?

Join Alice Foster and James Cahill for a fascinating analysis of the history of narrative art. Taking two different approaches to viewership, and focusing upon various works of the Ashmolean’s collections, Cahill and Foster explore the narratives within and around artworks, raising questions about how – and why – we look at art.

Portrait of Prince Rupert, Colonel William Legge and Colonel John Russel by William Dobson

How does art draw us in? Composition, colours, subject... join the discussion with our expert speakers


Workshop timings

  • 1pm: Talks by Alice Foster and James Cahill
  • 2pm:  Gallery viewing
  • 2.45pm onwards: Refreshments and informal, guided discussion


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