Coursework Assignment: Interpreting Landscape Representation
Aim: The aim of this piece of coursework is to develop an understanding of the issues involved in the interpretation of representations in Cultural Geography and, in particular, in representations of landscape. It aims to help you develop skills of understanding representation, describing examples of representations, and applying theory to them. In order to complete the task you will need to draw on the material presented in the lectures and seminars in the first four weeks of the course, additional reading from the reading list, and some practical work.
Task: You should select an appropriate landscape representation – good sources are the collections displayed at either Tate Britain (at Millbank in Pimlico) or the National Gallery (in Trafalgar Square)– and answer the following questions. Both galleries have very good websites which you can use to explore the collections before you visit, but you must visit in order to see the picture itself. You are NOT ALLOWED to select Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews, although you might find it useful to read about it and go and look at it in the National Gallery.
Tate Britain holds British Art from 1500 to the present day. I would suggest that you select something from the eighteenth century onwards. There are good collections of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape painting (John Constable, David Cox, J.M.W. Turner) and of twentieth-century landscapes too (Spencer Gore, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, John Craxton). The contemporary art collection does not tend to deal with landscape images. The best way to use the Tate Britain website (http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/) is to click on ‘Art & Artists’ then use the search functions to find things that you might be interested in. You can find out whether they are currently on display before your visit.
The National Gallery holds a much larger collection of Western European painting from the thirteenth century onwards. You can browse the collection on the website (http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/)by using painters names (for English eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape painting, try Constable, Turner, Gainsborough). There is also a wide range of landscape images from other European countries (especially France). When you visit the gallery most of the English landscape painting is in rooms 34 and 35.
The overall length of this assignment must be 1500 words. It is expected that each of the following three sectionsshould be of roughly equal length and written in full (rather than as bullet points). Your bibliography does not count towards the word limit.
1. Outline, using your reading, the issues that need to be taken into account when interpreting representations of landscape.
2. Explain why you chose the landscape representation that you are going to study and describeit in detail. You can include a picture with your assignment, but your description must be able to be read independently of the picture.
3. Provide a short interpretation of the landscape depiction that you have chosen which uses the ideas from your reading to interpret the meanings of this particular representation.