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Students Reinterpret Paintings in "Look Again... Stories of the World" on Display at The Courtauld Gallery
Claudia Gardner-Pickett, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Photographed by Marysa Dowling, 2010.

LONDON.- For the first time original works by young people are on display at The Courtauld Gallery as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World, the biggest youth engagement project ever undertaken by UK museums. Inspired by works from The Courtauld Gallery’s collection, twenty-one students aged 16 to 21 from further education colleges across London have reinterpreted selected paintings to create photographic portraits staged with artist photographer Marysa Dowling. They also organised the exhibition in consultation with curators, conservators and technicians while learning what goes on behind the scenes of a world-famous museum.

The participating students are studying a wide range of subjects, from BTEC to A-Levels, and all have a keen interest in art although they had not visited The Courtauld Gallery before taking part in this project. The students were in receipt of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and their families have not previously participated in Higher Education.

The project was coordinated by the Education Department of The Courtauld Institute of Art and students regularly attended evening sessions at The Courtauld since June 2010, as well as taking part in a week-long summer school. Working closely with curators, academics and artists they explored how image and identity were expressed in portraits before the widespread use of photography, and how images reflect wider social values and the individual aspirations and personal narratives of both sitter and artist.

Three students chose Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear from the Gallery’s collection as the starting point for their own self-portraits. Two chose Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and Renoir’s Portrait of Ambroise Vollard, while other choices included Degas’ Lady with a Parasol and Woman at a Window, Gauguin’s Te Rerioa, Rubens’s The Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Jane Avril in the Entrance of the Moulin Rouge, and portraits of Queen Charlotte by Sir William Beechey, Don Francisco de Saavedra by Goya, Charles and Captain John Sealy by Tilly Kettle and a copy of Reynolds’s The Theory of Art.

The works are on view in Room 8 at The Courtauld Gallery from 10 February to 13 March 2011.

There will an opportunity to meet the young artists for tours, talks and workshops at a special late event on Thursday 10 March 2011.

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