Category Archives: Art

Mr Simon Pepper, Chigwell School: The Emergence of Electronic Dance Music and the Politics of Public Spaces.

Mr Pepper using his own equipment illustrated the growing tension between music and socially low status of various disadvantaged groups in the USA in 1980s, such as Black Americans, LGBT people, Latinos. This helped the industrial music to emerge to demonstrate strong relation between machine and a man, which expressed itself in the development of the electronic pop. The controversy of the “oppressed” groups relieving their frustration and their need for change in music led to a moral panic in the Great Britain, particularly under the rule of Margaret Thatcher. This backlash against thatcherism was also an expression against the popular drive for consumerism, capitalist success and the productivity of individuals. Fascinating, how much we can learn from the simple movements on the floor and use of discarded industrial equipment.

Dr. Katya Rogatchevskaia: Propaganda and life in Russia.

Dr. Katya Rogatchevskaia from the British Library made a fantastic presentation on the dangers and intentions of the propaganda in general and using specific examples from Russia, ranging from the first time used it by the last Romanovs in 1900s to the current leaders of the Russian Federation. Various issues were raised by her critical approach, which was illustrating potential power of propaganda used by any regime or system to pass a message to targeted and receptive audience. She focused on Noam Chomsky’s “The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine” to explore factors behind the Propaganda; its authority, message (which is difficult to disagree with), and intentions, particularly with the usage of selected aesthetics.

Can something stop being a propaganda? What influences these changes in “unloading” the objects, buildings, piece of art from the intention to indoctrinate? How much do we need to know to understand the context of the time to read the message and to be bothered by it?

We are very grateful to Katya for the thought-provoking lecture, where we need to reassess our own critical and therefore independent thinking, which we apply or not to assess the credibility and intent of the messages and news selected and presented  in current media.

Teresa Kwiecinska

Rosemarie Swinfield: The world of William Shakespeare

On Tuesday the 5th of February Rosemarie Swinfield, lecturer, make-up designer and author with an international reputation and a series of lectures about Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries,  covered the world of William Shakespeare without presenting simple facts about him that can be found with a simple Google search and instead detailing all we do and don’t know about Shakespeare as a person and the tales surrounding the legendary poet and playwright. Her lecture also included details on the world he lived in. This included the Elizabethan attitudes towards theatre, their methods of makeup, housing, certain rules everyone had to follow to keep pedestrians safe and even their attitudes towards milk! Rosemarie also went on to discuss Elizabethan portraits and the Mask of Venus, a template of sorts that artists had to use in order to replicate the way Elizabeth I wanted to be portrayed, and the singular painting where this format was not followed. Rosemarie also presented different rumoured paintings of Shakespeare speaking about the likelihood of them all being true representations of the playwright and her opinions on each one. In the question and answer section of this Williams project Rosemarie was questioned about the stories she told and further opinions on aspects of her lecture of which she all answered with confidence and a deep understanding of the topic. She was finally asked about the question of Shakespeare being the true writer of his plays where she expressed that she does not truly know the answer to the question nor does she believes it matters as it does not change the content of the plays themselves.

Sebastian Armstrong

Dr Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia – ‘The Russian Revolution and the world today: exhibition and beyond’

Dr Katya (Ekaterina) Rogatchevskaia is the Lead Curator of the East European Collections in the British Library. She headed the organization of the Library’s exhibition “Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths’’ which commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

During the meeting, Dr Rogatchevskaia guided us through the exhibition, beginning with its promoting poster. As she admitted, she did not initially like it, but the image used in 20th century by the Red Army for propaganda appeared to be powerful for modern spectators. Dr Rogatchevskaia vividly presented to us not only the history of the Russian Revolution, embodied in the British Library’s exhibits, but also the perception of the revolutions’ impact around the world. At the end of the meeting we could see fragments of Russian films from the first half of the 20th century and observe how those images – although stained with propaganda – managed to leave lasting and emotional impressions.

Aleksandra Bulira

Mark Lord: How to design a film

On May 2nd Mark Lord shared with us his passion for design and tailoring, and how he has become a costumier for many TV and film productions, including the BBC’s recent Dickensian. He explained how he had to work from (often incomplete) scripts, and spot where later episodes required a character to have a particular kind of clothing from the start. For example, if a character beats someone with a belt in episode 10, they have to wear a belt from episode 1. If a character is stabbed in episode 6, Mark has to order five of the same shirt, as scenes often require several takes. He is a stickler for detail, and takes great pains to be historically accurate. Many in his audience were keen to work in different aspects of film, and were very grateful to Mark for the warm, generous and precise advice he gave them.

Mrs S. Inch: “Christo”

On Tuesday, the Williams Project was held in Room 3 and the lecture was given by Mrs Inch. She talked about the work of Christo (and his wife Jean-Claude), an incredible artist who created works on a grand scale. Among these works were a giant curtain stretching across a valley, a group of pink booms surrounding eleven Miami islands, and, my personal favourite, a wrapped Reichstag. The talk was very interesting and intriguing, and Mrs Inch was a very good lecturer, speaking with enthusiasm and clarity.

Thomas Lockley

Mr S. Chaudhary: “God’s Golden Ratio”

Our Head of Maths, Mr Chaudhary, gave us a vastly wide-ranging and heartfelt exposition of the centrality of the ratio φ (“phi”) in the universe and the human body, and what that centrality meant.

He showed that the ratio (see above, equivalent to 1:1.618…, which is, uniquely, the same as 0.618…:1) lies behind the Fibonacci sequence, which we see in so many growth patterns in animals and plants, as well as in the relationship between a myriad of measurements of the human body. It’s also one of the commonest principles in the way we perceive beauty: painters place horizons at it.

Mr Chaudhary argued that the odds of this one ratio being at the centre of so much were virtually nil, and so it is convincing evidence of divine design behind creation. He showed us verses from the Quran which point out that God has designed the universe in a way whereby we can detect, even deduce, his hand.

Further reading:
Universal Laws and the Golden Ratio

15 Uncanny examples in nature

Disputed observations (Wikipedia)

Mr P. Eardley: “Anyone Can Paint!”

The Williams Project on 14th May was, I think I can say, a bizarre concept for many of the pupils and teachers at Chigwell to understand, particularly as our venue had shifted to the art block this week. I doubt many had considered Mr Eardley, our Head of Biology, as a painter, so it was always bound to be an interesting experience for all involved. (See an account of Mr Eardley’s previous Williams Project talk.)
Mr Eardley chose his title well: “Anyone can Paint!” told us that he had set out to inspire us in a topic that was unfamiliar perhaps with a lot of busy students and teachers, as it is renowned to be a topic for those with a steady mind and hand. He demonstrated, live (and with a projected video feed), Bob Ross’ method of painting, building up the picture from the top and the background, adding foreground in layers. First sky at the top and water beneath, then clouds, mountains, snow, foothills, trees, banks and finally highlights on the foreground bushes. While he painted he talked, so we learnt invaluable lessons on painting that can be applicable to many areas of life, such as his comments on sacrifice and usingblank areas to create atmosphere. With such a stunning piece for a Tuesday evening, I can now say that anyone can paint… as long as we have inspiring people like Mr Eardley helping us realise our potential. And he did it all in 75 minutes flat, smashing his practice best.

Try zooming in on the photograph below of the finished painting.

Angus Brown




Angela Findlay: Getting out of prison with a paintbrush: is prison punishment or rehabilitation?

Angela Findlay ( gave two really excellent talks to the Williams Project, based on her twenty years’ experience encouraging prisoners to paint and draw. After a shocking introduction to the demographics of the prison population (particularly the huge proportion of prisoners with mental health issues), she described how she worked, for example, with two prisoners sharing a canvas: it was fascinating to observe (and, for the prisoners, revealing and therapeutic) the different responses to borders – how much would they genuinely share the space, and how much would they mark off half-way and stick to their own side?

Miss S. Wales: Ways of Seeing: A new way of looking at art history

Miss Wales, an art teacher here at Chigwell, presented the Williams Project with a fast and challenging explanation of how visual artists revisit each other’s works, as well as the same themes and ideas, across history. The development of art is not to be seen as purely linear, but one which can be seen holistically – stripping away the temporal dimension allows us to respond more personally and genuinely to what we see, rather than having our eyes guided by the label on the wall in the gallery. A fascinating presentation, and one which led to some really perceptive questions and discussion.

Further reading:

Bachelard. G., The Poetics of Space (Boston, Beacon Press, 1994)

Berger, J., Ways of Seeing (London, Penguin Books, 1972)

Bannan, J., The Philosophy of Merleau–Ponty  (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967)

Daniel Chandler, Semiotics for Beginners,

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