On Thursday 30 March, Lower 6th form A-Level Art students had the opportunity to visit the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the Lapworth Museum of Geology, and the Psychology Department at the University of Birmingham as part of an art trip. The aim was to explore sensory perception in art and to gain a deeper understanding of how artists utilise the senses, beyond just sight, in their work and learn how this can be integrated into our own A-Level art portfolios.
A unique part of the Barber Institute of Fine Art’s history is that it was founded by a woman, Lady Martha Constance Hattie Barber, in memory of her late husband, Sir William Henry Barber. The collection of artworks was chosen to fit the criteria set out by Lady Barber herself. Although the collection is small, it displays works by many of the greats, including, but not limited to: Botticelli, Giovanni Bellini, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin, Claude, Gainsborough, Turner, Ingres, Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Magritte. We were introduced to key paintings and sculptures at the Barber Institute, including: Saint John the Evangelist -Simone Martini, Isaac Blessing Jacob -Matthias Stom, Vesuvius in Eruption -Joseph Wright, and sculptures by Edgar Degas, we were encouraged to think convergently and discuss how the senses can be explored in these individual pieces. Having already discussed the themes explored in our individual sketchbooks with our guide in school earlier that week, we were then directed to thematically relevant pieces in the Barber Institute that we could refer to in our portfolios.
Still conscious of sensory perception in art, over at the Psychology department at the University of Birmingham, we learnt about the psychological processes involved with touch and were involved in an experiment where we explored the issues in the assessment of touch. We assessed our own, and each other’s tactile sensitivity; this was done using manual touch tests, the method typically used in clinical testing of touch, by manual application of test stimuli; alongside adaptive touch testing, an automated approach developed by The Sensory Motor Neuroscience Lab and Obi Robotics. Additionally, we had the opportunity to use virtual reality headsets, which opened our eyes to the world of artificial sensory perception that technology can create.
Rosanna (Lower Sixth)