Favourite Hobbies – Art History by Pam Norman

art history

Image of Pam by George Norman

Several years before I retired, I met an active and stimulating woman in her 80s, whom I’ll call Simone. She told me that she had decided when she finished working, that she would learn something new every year, a skill, an area of knowledge, a language, or something like that. When I met her, she had tried her hand at jewellery making, felting, painting and French and her next goal was to have a go at African drumming. She provided good evidence for the view that learning new things keeps the brain healthy in later years.

Our holidays have always included visits to art galleries and sites of artistic interest, especially in Italy, where we found a never ending supply of Renaissance genius readily available. I wanted to know more and to feel “at home” with a wider range of works.

My Google searches alerted me to several options; an online course run by Exeter University on 19th Century Artists, a number of face-to-face WEA courses (Workers Educational Trust) run on a termly basis in Exeter and more expensive qualification courses from a variety of establishments. I plumped for the Exeter Uni course and to attend a WEA course on Van Dyke. Both were informative, with the online course providing quite a lot of written material linked to images which were helpful in bringing you a range of experiences.

However the big drawback of online learning for me is getting into any kind of meaningful discussion. Although students could “chat” online, in practice most of those who used the link seemed more interested in getting the tutor’s views than on linking with other students. The WEA course was very good with an entertaining speaker and a group of like-minded people all seeking to improve their knowledge and discuss views. (Only one drawback – a warm room, dimmed lights, slides and a soothing voice = a strong urge to close eyes and snooze!)

I enjoyed both approaches and did a couple of terms with both providers, but recognised that distance learning is not my preferred way of learning as I like the social interaction to cement the facts in place.

Then one evening enjoying a drink at a pub in the next village I discovered that someone gave regular talks there on Art History every Tuesday morning and for the price of a few pounds, coffee included, anyone was welcome. This has proved a treat, as each week there is a different topic and one can “pay as you go” rather than for a full term. I have been introduced to a whole range of art, old and modern and the tutor is knowledgeable, from a professional academic background, entertaining and imaginative. So what’s the moral of this story? Look on your doorstep as well as online when you search!

art historyAbout the Author: 

Pam Norman worked in Training and Development for most of her career and nowadays pursues a range of interests, such as mosaic, art history, travel at home and abroad, as well as having an ever increasing number of grandchildren and a couple of rather gorgeous Border Collies. She has always enjoyed words and wordplay and likes to write short stories, poetry and articles. She is part of the East Devon Writers Group, a writing group which produced a range of work to raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance.

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