Originally, I was an English student: I read lots and loved analysing books. Then last Christmas I became absorbed by my a-level art history course and began learning about artists’ lives, analysing paintings and studying critics. I was hooked.
I first heard of Art History Abroad through a tutoring agency which sent one of the AHA tutors to my house to guide me through my A Level and show me new ways of viewing art. We spent two whole days engrossed in Art History: pawing over the Impressionists, astounded by the 19th century and shocked by the controversial Dadaists. For me, however, there was something bigger in art history which I wanted to explore and which I was getting more of an inkling of the more I read, even though I was not studying it for my exams: the Italian Renaissance.
Soon after the AHA tutor left and I immersed myself in exam preparation, I decided to apply for the Northern Italy Three Summer course and was awarded a discretionary scholarship. My main objective was to study the Italian Renaissance. I also wanted to be inspired and stretched before I started my Art History BA at York University.
As it happened, I met one of the Art History Lecturers at York at an open day there later in the summer and he, being a veteran AHA tutor himself, was really impressed that I was going on the course. He was even willing to drop my grade boundaries as a result! This really showed me in what esteem these AHA courses are held.
And I was not disappointed. This esteem was justified throughout the two weeks in Venice, Florence and Rome. The tutors’ knowledge amazed me: walking around churches and galleries they knew every fine detail – even things I’m sure the artists would have forgotten themselves! They were also happy to sit, sometimes for twenty minutes at a time, answering my never-ending questions on the architecture and paintings which surrounded me.
And the art I saw on the trip really did blow my mind. It was so exciting seeing works up close, touching-distance away, compared to the glossy pages in a text book. And of course, being in such beautiful locations also helped.
As a group I think that we all got a taste of Italian culture in the evenings: from dining in quaint pizzerias, to experiencing the adventure of Florence’s meat houses, to sampling the night life at various night clubs and bars whilst drinking authentic Italian drinks of presseco and sprtiz aperol.
I would encourage anyone who wants to have an exciting, special summer to take part in an AHA trip: it really is an experience of a lifetime.
AHA Summer Course student, 2012
· AHA offers an annual scholarship. It is highly prized and valued at the cost of a summer course – £3,400. It is awarded to the winner of an essay competition : ‘Write 400 words on a work of art you love, followed by 400 words on a work of art you loath’. Open to all, this competition requires no prior knowledge of art history, just a sense of enthusiasm and powerful views.
· AHA also awards the odd bursary, entirely on a discretionary basis, to those we feel have a particular desire to study art history and who we feel will make the most of the opportunity.
· Lastly, there are travel funds and awards available at many schools and from many funds. AHA will happily match fund, to a limit of £200, those who have secured such funding.