Through short guided exercises, explore the benefits of meditation in preparing for looking at art with openness and curiosity, and practise mindful pauses to bring attention back when the mind wanders into judgemental thoughts. Experiment with the materials of drawing and playful mark-making as a meditative practice,
This two-day creative course investigates the teachings and practices explored in the Buddhism exhibition and considers how these might translate into our viewing, making and understanding of art. Combining ‘slow’ looking, drawing and reflective exercises, this masterclass offers meditative approaches to help engage more deeply and meaningfully with art. Over the course of the weekend, our tutors will share strategies for improving focus and attention, to cultivate a sense of enjoyment and appreciation of an artwork and the experience of being fully present with it.
Through short guided exercises, we’ll explore the benefits of meditation in preparing for looking at art with openness and curiosity, and practise mindful pauses to bring attention back when the mind wanders into judgemental thoughts. You will be encouraged to experiment with the materials of drawing and playful mark-making as a meditative practice, including observational drawing to enhance awareness of the act of looking. Mindfulness is a key element of Buddhist practice, and is now widely applied in secular contexts to improve wellbeing. This weekend aims to show it can also be of great benefit in the production and contemplation of art.
We’ll start our first morning with an introduction to mindfulness. Before visiting the Buddhism exhibition, we’ll prepare and nourish ourselves with a guided meditation. An exclusive tour of the exhibition will allow for close looking at objects on display and the discussion of some strands of Buddhist thought running through the exhibition and our workshop weekend. You’ll be led in a guided looking exercise, to engage the senses and develop a deeper connection with one object, giving you the tools to develop your own ‘slow looking’ practice in art galleries and museum collections. The focus of the afternoon is on drawing and mark-making: we’ll take inspiration from works on display to play with colour, gesture and materials. By the end of the first day, you’ll have practised mindfulness meditation (both sitting and walking), investigated the overlap of mindfulness and art and made drawings collaboratively and individually.
On Day Two we will turn our attention to the different textured surfaces found in the exhibition. This will be the starting point for drawing exercises, noticing our responses to the interaction of drawing tool and surface. Throughout the day, we will revisit the mindfulness approaches and short meditations introduced on Saturday, to bring about a sense of focus, ease and embodiment. We’ll discuss Buddhist teachings in relation to perception and compassion and consider how this might enrich our experience of art; we’ll put ideas into practice with a mindful looking and writing exercise. In the afternoon, we return to the Buddhism exhibition to spend time on a ‘mini retreat’ with an artwork of your choice, before gathering as a group to make a final drawing and reflect on the weekend, sharing thoughts for how we might take some of the experiences into everyday life.
Karly Allen is an art historian and practitioner of drawing and mindful looking. A graduate of the Ruskin School of Fine Art (University of Oxford), she received a Masters in Japanese Art History from SOAS (University of London). Karly has over twenty years’ experience of leading workshops and creative courses for prestigious London collections including the National Gallery, V&A, Wallace Collection and the Royal Collection, where she was formerly Education Manager. She has trained in mindfulness meditation in the Rinzai Zen tradition.
Karly will be joined by two specialist practitioners over the course of the weekend:
Clare Barton-Harvey is an artist, writer and tutor whose work is centred on the relationship between creativity and mindfulness. Clare has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for over 25 years and teaching meditation, drawing and mindfulness courses and workshops for over 15 years; her recent projects include courses for the National Gallery, the City Literary Institute, and Historic Royal Palaces.
Lucia van der Drift has over 15 years’ experience as a writer and teacher in meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. Lucia regularly leads retreats in the UK and internationally. Her publications on art and aesthetics include writing on the Buddhist collections of the National Museum of Ethnography, Leiden.
Alongside their work with secular mindfulness, both Clare and Lucia regularly teach in Buddhist settings, in which they draw on their experience and knowledge as ordained Buddhists of the Triratna Buddhist Order.
Karly, Clare and Lucia are co-founders of Limina Collective: a small, passionate team of mindfulness and arts experts bringing meditation and reflection practices to the museum and gallery environment.
Equipment and materials
All materials will be provided. You may want to bring a small notebook or sketchbook, if you use one, to note down your observations as the weekend unfolds.
Previous skills, knowledge or experience
No previous experience of meditation or drawing is required. The course is designed to support anyone who wants to develop a richness of attention, focus and a deeper connection with artworks. 3
A willingness to experiment and participate in group and individual activities will help you get the most from this course.
Facilities and refreshments
Please note that the Learning Centre will open to participants 15 minutes before the stated course start time. Tea and coffee will be served at the beginning of each day. Participants will need to make their own arrangements for lunch.
On Sunday please meet at Gate 5 at 10.15 to be escorted in the Library. Further instructions about Sunday entry will be provided on Saturday.
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