Hugh Ellwood

Hugh Ellwood
Architectural Historian & Artist

Hugh Barton Ellwood has devoted his life to architecture and the arts. He studied philosophy in Rome, followed by a degree in architecture at the university of Manchester. After graduation, he became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. For 31 years he pursued a career as an architect with Building Design Partnership, the largest multi-discipline design organisation in the UK. For 21 years he was a partner in the practice, based mainly in the Preston office. During this period he worked on many projects, including private housing, schools and hospitals such as the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham and the New General Infirmary at Leeds. He also worked in Rome and Berlin.

For some years he was an external examiner in architecture at the University of Manchester and has lectured extensively to various societies and organizations on art and architecture. He is an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) and has lectured extensively on cruises.

During the 1980's he began to sketch with watercolour as a complement to the pursuit of architecture.

An accomplished architectural artist, his subjects are mainly buildings, the landscape and the relationship between the two.

The following lectures are intended for societies or groups who are interested in the visual arts. Each lecture covers the design and history of the architecture, sculpture and painting of a particular period, place or individual. In many cases, lectures may be put together to provide a study day.

1. The Mediterranean – Cradle of Western art and culture

Many different civilisations have flourished around the shores of the Mediterranean, interacting and influencing each other. As each flourished and declined, the banner of culture was developed and passed from one to the other to form our own inheritance.

2. The Glory that was Greece

The classical tradition which so influenced the culture of the West for over two thousand years began in the city states of Greece. Their art and architecture laid down the principles that were followed in the subsequent centuries.

3. The Grandeur that was Rome

The Romans conquered the world and founded their empire on the ruins of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Their art, sculpture and architecture are built on the achievements of the Greeks to which they added their own outstanding achievements in engineering.

4. Byzantium – the new Rome

The Roman Empire moved east and changed the direction of art and culture for the next millennium. Whilst the empires in the east and the west declined, the influence of Byzantine art moved west to Europe and north to Russia.

5. Christian & Islamic Art

In the Iberian Peninsula the Christian and Islamic traditions met to intermingle and influence each other. This melting pot of cultures produced examples of art and architecture to be found nowhere else in Europe.

6. The Golden Age of Islam

As well as a world religion, Islam also produced a civilization and culture of art, architecture and science stretching from India to Spain. Assimilating the achievements of Greece and Rome, this knowledge was developed and fed back into Europe.

7. Origins of the Early Renaissance

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Western Europe became a political backwater and this period is known as the ‘Dark Ages’. However, the spreading of Christianity meant that Classical art and architecture continued to serve the needs of the Church right through to the Renaissance

8. The Renaissance – the rebirth

The Italians of the 15th century believed that art, science and scholarship had flourished in the classical period and had been destroyed by the northern barbarians. It was their task, as direct descendants of ancient Rome to recreate this glorious past and usher in a new era of art and culture.

9. Andrea Palladio

Born in 1508 into war-ravaged northern Italy, Andrea Palladio was apprenticed as a stone-cutter. Thanks to the encouragement and patronage of a nobleman he became an architect and an intellectual. By the end of his life he had succeeded in determining the direction of Western architecture for the next four centuries.

10. The English Renaiisance – a new direction

In 1533 Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. Three years later he executed her and the day after he married Jane Seymour. Between those two dates the art of the Renaissance first made its mark in England. Some magnificent country houses were built by courtiers and the new style of building was finally established by Inigo Jones.

11. The Exuberance of the Baroque

Artists, sculptors and architects developed the new classical art of the Renaissance along increasingly elaborate lines and new forms. It was a continuous search for the sensational. This development spread across Europe and the New World.

12. The Gothic art & architecture of France

Whilst the tribes of northern Europe were viewed as barbarian invaders by the south and their culture as foreign, nevertheless their Gothic art and architecture produced a tradition on a monumental scale which lasted for centuries in several countries.

13. The Vaulting Achievement of the English Cathedrals

Even before the Norman Conquest, French architecture had begun to cross the channel and for the next four hundred years it developed a particularly English character. Over the centuries it was continually creative and innovative and produced some of the finest building in Europe.

14. St Petersburg – the design of a new city

Because of the drive of two powerful individuals, a new city emerged to give Russia access to the Baltic. As well as Russian culture, it drew heavily on the traditions of classical Italy and established some of the greatest collections of art in the world.

15. St Petersburg – Parks and Palaces

Around the city the Tsars laid out magnificent parks and palaces for themselves and the nobility. As well as being summer retreats, these exuberant and lavish designs were intended to reflect the image and power of Russia.

16. Venice – Queen of the Adriatic

What was once a refugee camp on the coast of the Adriatic became a trade centre and then a wealthy republic with its own empire. A link between east and west, it produced some of the finest art, architecture and music in the world.

17. Antonio Gaudi

In the city of Barcelona at the end of the 19th century an astonishing genius produced forms of architecture unique to Catalonia. Widely regarded in Barcelona he was known to the rest of the world for his design of the cathedral of La Sagrada Familia.

18. The Far Eastern & Orient Express

A luxury train journey in the Far East from Singapore to Bangkok takes several days. Stopping along the way for excursions, including the infamous bridge over the river Kwai, we visit the different artistic traditions and cultures of Malaysia and Thailand.

19. Cambodia – a lost civilisation

The story of a lost civilisation, influenced by Hinduism and Budhism, that disappeared some eight hundred years ago, leaving behind an incredible array of buildings and sculpture that was only re-discovered in the 19th century.

20. Pugin – God’s Romantic Victorian Architect

An extraordinary story of a self-educated man who was shipwrecked, bankrupted, widowed twice, yet kick-started the Gothic Revival and changed the face of Victorian England before he went mad and died at the age of 40.

21. Cities of Asia Minor

The major ancient cities of Asia Minor were all located in the vicinity of the eastern coast with easy access to the Aegean, ranging from Troy in the north to Hierapolis in the south. They were generally laid out in some variation of a rectangular grid with the major elements of agora, sanctuary, theatre, gymnasium and other public buildings.

22. Istanbul - Beauty on the Bosphorus

The two great religions of Christianity and Islam interacted with each other in the city of Constantinople. Christianity was the driving force behind the design of the cathedral of Hagia Sophia during the Byzantine era. When the Ottoman Turks took the city in 1453 this Christian cathedral became the prototype of the Islamic mosque.

23. Vienna - a waltz on the Danube

The Gothic spirit of Vienna is symbolized by the cathedral of Stephensdom, which stands out in a city that is overwhelmingly Baroque. Vienna's love of the arts is illustrated by the opera houses, theatres and museums that are found throughout the city. There are marvelous examples of Jugendstil, Vienna's own version of Art Nouveau.

24. Budapest - Diva of the Danube

There is an aesthetic tension in Budapest that matches the city's stormy political history. The result is a fascinating mosaic of Central European influences from Habsburg to Turkish, from French to Slavic. All these elements fuse in a flash of brilliance that is peculiarly Budapest.

Cruise Experience as Speaker/TutorSeveral years with Fred Olsen, Saga, P&0, Voyages to Antiquity, Voyages of Discovery


Architecture & its History