History and Myth in Painting, Sculpture and Photography


Please note this day event is now running on 5 February 2024, not 9 October 2023 as originally advertised.

Held in conjunction with the WEA at the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts.

The aim of this study day is to introduce the way historical events, myths and stories from the ancient world have inspired artists, both in the ancient period and since. We will explore art forms ranging from some to the great ancient buildings of Greece and Rome, through painting and sculpture to photography, conceptual art and contemporary installations. Great artists from Phydias and Exekias, to Bernini, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Picasso and Marc Quinn will be included.   

The central premise of the day is to investigate the way in which artists have taken some of the great stories of the past and used them to explore their own experiences of the world. The universal themes of war, death, love, heroism and evil have inspired some of the most exciting paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, performances and even buildings. These well-known and well-loved stories have also inspired artists when they have been confronted with great contemporary events, such as wars, revolutions and tragedy. Some of these events and the associated art works will form part of this exploration.  

Key to our understanding will be the forms created by artists in the ancient world – the classical sculptors, architects and painters of Greece and Rome in particular, as it was their artistic expression that was then revived in the 1500s and led to the language of Western art that persists to the present day.   

Programme details

This study day will be held at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF. You can opt to attend either in person or online via a livestream.


Heroism, war, history and myth in the art of the ancient world

Tea/coffee break

Heroism, war, history and myth: the art of the Renaissance and Baroque

Lunch break

Heroism, war, history and myth: the 19th and early 20th centuries

Tea/coffee break

Heroism, war, history and myth: today

Course disperses

Please note: lunch can be pre-ordered from the café-bar. The consumption of your own food and drink is not permitted on the premises at Norden Farm.


Description Costs
Course Fee (includes tea/coffee) £40.00
Course Fee (online attendance per household, £1 booking fee) £41.00


Mrs Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith has a BA and MA in History of Art and a certificate in Archaeology from Birkbeck College, University of London.  She has been teaching adult education classes at Oxford, the University of Reading and the WEA for 15 years.


To join in person at Norden Farm:

Steph Diggon (WEA), 19, Gorse Road, Cookham, SL6 9LL.

Email: weamhead@gmail.com or Telephone: 01628 563676.

Please contact Steph Diggon to check course availability if you wish to attend the study day at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts. If places are available, please complete the application form she will send you and indicate how you prefer to be contacted. We need your phone number or email address so we can get in touch with you if needed.

Please complete a separate application form for each place and email to Steph Diggon or post to the address above, paying either by bank transfer to Workers’ Educational Association Maidenhead sort code 60-30-06 account number 26604507 with your own name as reference, or by cheque payable to WEA Maidenhead Branch.

If the day is cancelled a full refund will be given. Please contact Steph if you wish to cancel.

To watch online via a livestream:

You will need to enrol direct with the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts following this link: https://norden.farm/events/history-and-myth-in-painting-sculpture-and-photography-live-streaming.

In their confirmation email, Norden Farm will send links to their Live Streaming Guide, with information on how to test the stream in advance and what to do should you experience problems on the day. 

This event features a live chat feature alongside the stream, so please use this to ask questions. Sandra Smith will answer these briefly at the start of the following session. 

Please contact Steph Diggon for course materials (e.g. agenda, reading list etc) when you book and with any questions.

You can cancel your online place with Norden Farm up to 24 hours beforehand and the course fee (less £1 booking fee) will be refunded in full. 

Please note that this course will not be recorded.