Tate Britain Course

The Art of storytelling Led by writer Lucy Scholes

David Hockney, ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy’ 1970–1
David Hockney, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970–1. Tate. © David Hockney

Does every picture tell a story, or is it your interpretation? Based entirely in Tate Britain’s BP Walk through British Art after hours, you will develop creative storytelling skills to generate new ways of reading the art around you. Against the backdrop of British Art from the mid-sixteenth century to the present day, we’ll conjure up stories inspired by individual works and weave narratives for entire rooms. Sessions combine group discussion, oral and written exercises and time for peer and tutor feedback on your collaborative and individual work.

This course is aimed at those with an interest in storytelling, though no prior experience is needed. You are encouraged to engage with a wide variety of material and approaches, and discuss your own interpretations in a supportive setting. The course offers the opportunity to showcase your stories in the galleries on Saturday 23 November during an event launching Tate Britain’s new gallery spaces and collection re-hang

Dr Lucy Scholes

has a PhD in English Literature from Birkbeck, University of London, and used to teach in the English Department at Goldsmiths. She is now a freelance literary critic, writing for a variety of publications including Critical Quarterly, Untitled Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Daily Beast, The National, The Independent and The Observer. Lucy previously taught the popular Tate Modern courses 'Projecting Desire: Sex, Psychoanalysis and Cinema', ‘Hidden’, ‘The Apathy Complex’, and most recently, ‘The Critical I’.

Week one: art inspired by literature

The eighteenth century

We begin the course in some of the earliest rooms in the collection, comparing the paintings with their literary sources of inspiration, discussing what makes a faithful artistic representation

Week two: characterisation

The nineteenth century

Exploring the basics of characterisation, this week we breathe life into the subjects on the walls: naming them, giving them families, relationships and entire back stories.

Week three: dialogue

The nineteenth century

This week we focus on paintings of two or more figures that seem to be crying out for a conversation.

Week four: world building

The twentieth century

Building a wider context for our characters and their conversations, we explore the important role played by picture titles and how these affect our readings of the scenes depicted.

Week five: plot

The twentieth century

This week we build on everything we have learned to use conjure up a narrative for an eight-part series of works, focusing particularly on plot and narrative structure as we tell our stories.

Week six: what’s the story?

The twentieth century

In one of the most recent galleries we take inspiration from the host of modern scenes depicted and consider how they capture a moment in time to create narratives that led to this particular point, or imagine what follows. There is time to collectively edit and rehearse your stories developed through the course for the optional gallery performance on Saturday 23 November.

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit


Every Friday at 18.45–20.45 and 18.45–20.45 and 18.45–20.45 and 18.45–20.45 and 18.45–20.45 and 18.45–20.45

11 October – 15 November 2013

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