We missed seeing galleries and museums during lockdown and while we enjoyed watching virtual tours and online lectures, it's not the same as seeing the real thing in a beautiful venue. Now that Europe is slowly starting to open, for our Live chat this week we invited Siân Walters to talk to us about the best places to wonder at art masterpieces or just to enjoy a creative atmosphere.
More used to running art tours and cultural holidays across the UK and Europe, Siân has taken her expertise online over the last few months. She's running a series of online courses and virtual lectures on everything from Great Women Artists and The Glory of Venice to Frida Kahlo and Leonardo & Milan. Her free Monday lecture online, ‘Picture of the week’ will end soon, but you can still access the lectures on her Facebook page.
Siân is an art historian who lectures for the National Gallery, NADFAS (The Arts Society), The Wallace Collection, Friends of the Royal Academy, The London Art History Society, The Art Fund and many other art societies and colleges in the UK and Europe. She also runs Art History in Focus, an arts tours and events company.
We’ve talked to Siân about the opportunities that online lectures have brought us, how art kept people together and uplifting during lockdown, how to look at art, how we could support local art galleries, and of course about Siân’s art tours and the best places to wonder at art masterpieces or just to enjoy a creative atmosphere.
Siân’s passion for art, her knowledge, her ability to weave in great stories about how a painting made its way to a particular gallery are captivating. Add to it, a stunning destination, good wine and food, open a few doors for private collections and start a good conversation with the owner of the collection and you have the recipe for a great art tour. Not too much art, just enough not to get ‘Fresco neck’. Hopefully we’ll be able to join one of her tours soon. As for The Reluctant Husbands Club, do not worry, they will be converted.
As Europe is starting to open, here are 8 places recommended by Siân to visit and enjoy art and feel inspired:
- Padova, Italy – just 30min by train from Venice, really beautiful place and the Scrovegni Chapel is filled with 700 years old paintings by Giotto, “a microcosmos of human emotion and experience” says Siân
- Ravena, Italy is famous for its 6th century Byzantine mosaic
- Romantic hill top towns in La Marche where you won’t have to battle the crowds.
- Bruges – you wouldn’t expect to see Michelangelo in Bruges, but head for the Church of our Lady and you will have a wonderful surprise. Across from the church is the St John’s hospital, one of the oldest still existing hospitals in Europe. In 1970s it lost is function and is now hosting the Memling Museum.
- Den Haag, Netherlands – the Mauritshaus is where you find the Girl with the pearl earring and many of the best Dutch paintings
- Ghent for the greatest Van Eyck exhibition ever
- Delft, Netherlands for stunning pottery and paintings.
- The National Trust properties in the UK are great places to enjoy art. Upton House in Warwickshire has one of the most impressive art collection.
If you are curious about art why not join some of Siân’s online courses. The Great Women Artists has already started but, if you join the course, Siân is happy to provide the links to the sections you’ve missed.
Next year Siân is heading to Italy with a brand new art tour. If you wish to join her, here is the link to her trip.