Studying in the Birthplace of Classical Art

This year I was granted a life changing experience through the generous bequest of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust, and The Graham Hildebrand Foundation. I underwent a 3-month art intensive, based in Italy and Greece, where I learned classical art history and painting techniques. We spent the first month touring Italy, mainly focusing on the period of Baroque to Renaissance, and then the last 2 months were spent in the Greek Cycladic Island, where we studied the birth of Western civilisation, mainly focusing on the Hellenic to Byzantine period. By locating my practice within European tradition, I was able to develop new technical skills, and consider new ways to develop the maturity and conceptual integrity of my artwork. 

My education in Italy and Greece went beyond technical lessons, but invited me into a profound love for the ancient classical world. I learned new skills, but in a deeper sense, I forged a familiarity and personal relationship with the old masters. Traversing Florence, Pistoia, Venice, Pisa, Prato and Rome, I experienced the vast and foundational history of western art, and learned about its significant relationship with art today. On the Greek island of Paros, I discovered that art was central to the Greco-Roman ideal, and played a pivotal role for the progression of an intelligent civilization.

My experience studying in Italy and Greece met my desires, and exceeded my expectations. The course provided a holistic education that recognised the importance of a dialogue with literature, music, science, and philosophy whilst studying visual art. Thus, I found myself studying streams that I never anticipated. As a result, I was able to relive the decisions made by classical artists, and understand the artist’s contextual relationship with their contemporary world.

I was enthralled by “Duomo”, central to the city of Florence. It’s elegant presence boasts 1,600 years of craftsmanship. One particular morning, I climbed the cathedral Dome, and enjoyed the mystical sounds of the Monks who chanted below. I was transfixed by the sublime fresco imagery, and overcome by the transcendental sounds of the ancient music that resonated through the walls of its original birthplace. Something of that moment introduced me to the ecstatic hope that was forged within the depravity of human longing, which shaped some of the most significant movements to have influenced the history of fine art.

My classical education was a foundational experience that enriched my understanding of western art. I believe that such an education should be accessible to all Australian Artists. Consequently, I am studying my Graduate Diploma in Education. As a teacher of art I hope to teach classical history and investigate ancient techniques, with an aim to enrich the future emerging artists of Australia.

Furthermore, the experience has inspired a new exhibition entitled “Incurvatus In Se” (Latin: “To Curve In On One’s Self”). The series will investigate the symbolism of body language present in Michelangelo’s artworks, and consider philosophical and theological implications.