Art on the Celtic Fringes, 1880 to c.1945


During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the idea of the ‘periphery' fascinated artists and writers across Europe and the United States. This international trend also encouraged high levels of artistic migration, both to and from the Celtic fringes. 

Rural and coastal locations were captured in paintings that ranged from the naturalistic to the decidedly modern in style and subject matter. Like their continental and American peers, several artists from (or with close connections to) Cornwall, Ireland and Scotland were attracted to Brittany, for instance. These places and people were seen and often represented as distinctive, ‘primitive’ and more authentic in a rapidly modernising world. The periphery offered artists multiple opportunities to create and experiment. And in turn, many painters saw their own homelands through a particular lens.

We look at some of these important artists and their representations of life on the Celtic fringes during a period of intense artistic change and exchange.  

Programme details

Course starts: 24 Feb 2022

Week 0:  An Introduction to Teams

Week 1:  Introduction – Cornwall I: Harold Harvey

Week 2:  Cornwall II: Laura Knight, Dod Procter

Week 3:  Ireland I: Walter Osborne, Roderic O'Conor

Week 4:  Ireland II: Jack Butler Yeats, Mary Swanzy

Week 5:  Scotland: Artists of the Glasgow School


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £125.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Mary O'Neill

Dr Mary O'Neill researches late-nineteenth-century imagery from artists' colonies, including Cornwall. She curated Penlee House Gallery's summer exhibition in 2014. Her research has been published in Britain and Germany, and she contributed to a recent collection of essays on Henry Scott Tuke.

Course aims

To explore paintings from the Celtic peripheries by selected artists and trace the development of a range of modern visual styles.

Course Objectives:

1. To locate works from the Celtic fringes within broader European artistic trends.

2. To identify key themes and subjects across a range of the artists' works.

3. To appreciate each artist's fashioning of a distinctive visual language.

Teaching methods

  • Two short prerecorded lectures per online meeting
  • Follow-up group discussion of some paintings and themes explored in lectures
  • Group discussion of relevant contemporary articles (distributed in advance of seminars)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. Understand where the selected artists' works fit into the broader European context.

2. Be able to identify key themes and subjects across a range of works.

3. Understand the distinctive contributions of the artists active at the Celtic fringes.         

Assessment methods

An analysis (750 words) of one or more paintings from, or closely related to, the course content.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


Each course will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Other than a general knowledge of art history, no prior experience required.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)