A new lunchtime speaker series, the Arts@Tech Salon Series, featuring a range of arts-related topics started yesterday with a discussion of Winston Churchill’s passion for painting and the role it played in his life.
Duncan Sandys, Churchill’s great-grandson, and Rodney Cook, founder of Millennium Gate Museum, talked about the exhibition of paintings by Churchill at the Millennium Gate Museum at Atlantic Station.
“The most important thing to understand is that Churchill faced an enormous amount of failure and adversity in his life,” Sandys said. “Through his painting, he experimented, and that gave him the courage to experiment in his professional life — his diplomatic and political life. Painting helped Churchill to be more creative and innovative, and to have more courage. He said that courage is a primary human attribute because everything else flows from courage.”
The British politician, who was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955, produced more than 500 paintings as a hobby. The Atlantic Station exhibition, titled “The Art of Diplomacy: Winston Churchill and the Pursuit of Painting,” features 33 paintings and is the largest exhibition of Churchill’s work held in America since 1965. The exhibition, which closes Saturday, January 31, also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the statesman’s death.
“I think the one thing that I would [like for people to] take away is that when you’re in the technical or inventions world, so to speak, you know you’re going to fail,” Sandys said. “You know you’re not going to get it right the first time. These Tech students are going to be in a situation where they’re trying to game-change, [similar to] the way Apple and others have game-changed the way we operate. What Churchill found, through painting, was the courage to pick himself up after failing and keep going. I think that’s really the message for these students today because that’s the world they’re in. They’re going to fail, but if they play it safe, it’s not going to help the economy.”
A major goal for the Arts@Tech Salon Series is to grow interest in the arts among Georgia Tech students in particular, but also among faculty and staff, according to Travis Denton, curator of the Arts@Tech Salon Series and McEver Chair in Poetry in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.
“It’s also important that a higher profile series, such as this, demonstrates to those in the community at large — Atlanta and beyond — that Tech does have an ‘artsy’ side as well,” Denton said.
“We want our students to graduate with an education that includes science, technology, and serious exposure to arts — both in the making and appreciation of it,” Denton said. “The arts are thriving at Georgia Tech, with other programs such as Poetry@Tech, DramaTech, and all that’s going on at the Ferst Center, but it’s more important than ever that they get the attention boost.”
The next event in the Arts@Tech Salon Series will take place March 25. It will feature Monica Campana, the founder and director of Living Walls. Campana commissions artists to install large-scale paintings on the sides of buildings, particularly in areas of town where renewal has not yet taken hold. The event will take place at noon in the Ferst Center.