Head of Geography Ms Treanor reports on a Second Form expedition, ‘investigating the importance of tourism to Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. This included a trip up the Spinnaker Tower, questionnaires, environmental surveys and an evaluation of heritage features. They are now well prepared for the presentation and analysis of their data back in the classroom.’ The students spent the second part of their day in Portsmouth with the History department, visiting the Mary Rose Museum as part of this term’s topic on the Tudors. They investigated the mystery behind the sinking of the Mary Rose and met Hatch – the skeleton of the ship’s dog – among other discoveries.
‘We visited many galleries, mostly by foot, which enabled us to see so much more about life in Paris. A particular favourite was the Musée d’Orsay, which proved to be much bigger than it looked from the outside. There were many floors of paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and other renowned artists whom we have studied in class, but to experience the work first hand was completely different and truly incredible. We also visited the Musée de l’Orangerie where many of Monet’s larger water lily paintings from his garden in Giverny are exhibited. These covered all the walls and seemed abstract close up, but they had a completely different dimension when the whole painting was viewed from further away; they seemed to have transformed, each mark of colour now forming an element of the scene. One of my favourite places was the Rodin Museum where Anselm Kiefer had an exhibition. His paintings were of huge size and very textural in their approach; the layers of materials that covered his canvas were so thick that he had carved the markings into them rather than actually painting.
On one of the days, the group divided into two: Textiles students and History of Art students (the Photography students joined the group of their choice). The History of Art group went to the Louvre, whilst the Textiles group went to two fascinating fashion exhibitions: ‘Fortuny, un Espagnol à Venise’ and ‘La Maison Dior’. Fortuny was famous for using pleats in his designs, and we saw many wonderful garments inspired by classical Greek themes and motifs, but created using modern construction techniques. The beautiful gowns had simple, figure-hugging shapes, but the thousands of tiny pleats meant that they could be scrunched up into a tiny ball and still retain their flowing lines when unrolled, due to the craftsmanship!
‘La Maison Dior’ exhibition celebrated 70 years of Dior fashion. It was breath-taking; room upon room of astonishing garments, showing the progression from the origin of Dior to present day designs. Not only was every garment a masterpiece in itself, but the way they were presented was truly amazing, for example one whole room was decorated with tiny paper flowers hanging from the ceiling and covering the walls, creating an atmosphere similar to being in an enchanted forest.
In addition to immersing ourselves in art, we also found time to sample French culture, enjoying meals at local restaurants, crêpes in little cafés, and visiting the Eiffel Tower. It was a fantastic trip which has seeded our imaginations with ideas which are sure to appear in our future Art, Textile and Photography projects – look out for them in the next Inter House Art Competition!’
‘As a History of Art student, the abundance of galleries and museums that this trip offered provided me with a wealth of experience, being able to visually analyse paintings in the flesh. The Musée D’Orsay hosted many of the works of art included in the A Level course, making the trip here extremely worthwhile. To see them in the gallery setting was invaluable to deepening my understanding of the work and the plethora of works from the same period or artistic style helped to establish more complex art historical connections. Particularly interesting to me was Manet’s Olympia, with the richness of tone and model’s confronting gaze being all the more intensified through the ability to view the original painting.
Understandably, visiting the Louvre was another fantastic experience. Aside from the sheer size of the building, the thousands of artistic works housed there were overwhelming and solidified my understanding of art history. After fighting past the crowds to glimpse the beauty of Mona Lisa’s smile, the hall of monumental history paintings by the likes of Delacroix and David completed my experience of Paris.’