Autumn Lecture Series 2021

The Dream and the Journey

Monday 4 October

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In what way has the last ten years been defined by the movements of people seeking safety from war, natural disaster and poverty? How do we both tell and respond to their story in a way which brings these journeys to the wider public, not just an aesthetic experience but also as an affective and ethical one; challenging, informing conscience and transforming our own humanity and journeys. Can these journeys lead to hope?

Neil MacGregor is an art historian, museum director, broadcaster and author. He was Director of the National Gallery, London from 1987-2002, before becoming the Director of the British Museum from 2002-2015 and then founding Director of the Humboldt Forum, in Berlin. His books include: A History of the World in 100 Objects; Germany: Memories of a Nation and Living with the Gods and were all highly acclaimed BBC Radio 4 Series.

Issam Kourbaj was born in Syria and trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Damascus, the Repin Institute of Fine Arts & Architecture in St Petersburg and at the Wimbledon School of Art. He has lived in Cambridge, UK, since 1990, where he has been artistin-residence, bye-fellow, and lector in art, at Christ’s College. His works have been featured at museums around the world, including Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, Museum of Classical Archaeology, and Kettle’s Yard; Philadelphia’s Penn Museum; London’s British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum; and New York’s Brooklyn Museum. For the BBC’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects,’ Neil MacGregor chose Issam’s boats as the 101st object. This work will be shown at the lecture.

Ruth Padel, Professor of Poetry at King’s College London, is an award-winning poet, author of twelve acclaimed poetry collections and two novels, most recently Daughters of the Labyrinth, set on the Greek island of Crete. Her collection We Are All From Somewhere Else, poetry and prose reflecting on migration of all kinds, by animals, birds and people, includes the poem she wrote in collaboration with Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj, ‘Dark Water Burning World,’ to honour the traumatic and dangerous journeys made by Syrian refugees to the Greek island of Lesbos, and the islanders’ welcome to them.

Lucy Winkett is a writer, broadcaster and Rector of St James’s Church Piccadilly. Formerly a professional musician, and Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, her publications include Our Sound is our Wound (Continuum 2010), God’s Song and Music’s Meaning (Routledge 2019) and Reading the Bible with your Feet (Canterbury Press 2021). As Chaplain to the Royal Academy of Arts, she is committed to working with artists, musicians and scientists to enable the church to place its imagination in the service of justice, as patron, collaborator and co-conspirator in making the world a more just and beautiful place.


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