Literature and Art: Reference or Evidence?
A creative writing programme for adults, centring on Titian’s painting, was developed to attract new audiences to the National Galleries of Scotland and encourage our existing audiences to look at art in a fresh way. Given that Venus Rising from the Sea was probably inspired by an ancient text, this programme allowed us to explore the relationship between literature and art.

The programme included:

  • creative writing workshops with Scottish writer and poet Liz Niven, in which participants produced literary works inspired by Venus Rising
  • a public lecture on Venus Rising by writer Janice Galloway, exploring how art can inspire writing
  • discussion tours of Venus Rising, with a practising artist and the education officer who co-organised the exhibition
  • print-making workshops held as part of Adult Learners’ Week, which explored the themes within the exhibition

Participants in the creative-writing workshop produced work of a very high standard, including this poem by Liz Williamson:

My Aphrodite
By Liz Williamson

My Aphrodite rose supreme.
Bloodied in the sea, its foam made flesh.
Lust flooded veins, bones bound in beauty.
With girdle baited love
she reeled them in.

In velvet shadows I conceal.
His washer woman stands exposed.
In form ideal made real, they say.
Why ever do they think
my Aphrodite would be so?

on viewing Venus Rising from the Sea by Titian