A History of Firework Displays from the Renaissance to the Age of Electricity.
The fireworks that mark great events such as the opening of the Olympics, or even the start of a New Year make an enormous impact. Despite their brevity, the displays live on through film and photography. For centuries, the very fact that the fireworks themselves were seen only for seconds and yet cost large amounts of money provoked a strong desire to record them and a large archive of visual evidence remains. When rulers such as Louis XIV or the Russian Emperors began to see the propaganda value of circulating images designed to impress and amaze, fireworks graduated from popular entertainment to become a sophisticated instrument of statecraft. This lecture takes an exhilarating look at one art form that is never likely to gather dust in a museum.
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Timothy Wilcox is a writer, lecturer and exhibition curator with special interests in British art, in landscape and in watercolour painting. He was a museum curator in the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings following positions at the V&A, in Liverpool and Hove. As a freelance curator and lecturer since 1997, he has organised exhibitions on Laura Knight, Hilda Carline, John Sell Cotman and John Constable, at venues including Tate, The Lowry, the Wordsworth Trust and Dulwich Picture Gallery. He contributes regularly to the Courtauld Institute Summer School and lectures at museums and galleries in Britain, Europe and the USA.