I've been getting to know the BBC's excellent Your Paintings website again. This is a joint enterprise with the Public Catalogue Foundation -- and the aim is to get every oil painting in public collections in the UK (from council offices to galleries, universities to National Trust properties) online, and searchable. (Not quite sure what will happen if Scotland goes independent: wait and see I guess.)
A couple of years ago I put together a little presentation on the site, using its collection, to try to explore myths and monsters of ancient Greece. But there are other great guided tours too, like Monty Don's gardening pictures or a splendid set of self-portraits chosen by Laura Cumming. anyway just last week I had another dip choosing some images of the changing faces of heroism -- with World War 1 in mind, but also thinking about a deeper history, back to antiquity.
It's going to be a little segment in this mooc, and I don't think it is giving anything too much away to say that one of the pictures I talk about is one of the Stanley Spencer panels from Sandham Chapel (above: it's the filling of water bottles during the WW1 Salonika campaign). That chapel is where I went on one last day out with my excellent and much loved publisher before he died, so it's got a special resonance for me.
I know, by the way, I have been a bit rude about moocs in the past -- and you might be wondering what caused the change of heart. Well, there's been no change of heart really. I've always though moocs were great as add-on enrichment; it's those that pretend to be a substitute for a uni course that worry me.