THINKING of doing something different, trying something new in the New Year? Try feasting the eyes (rather than the body!) and expanding the mind (rather than the waistline!) by joining Chepstow Museum’s popular art history course.

This new series of art appreciation classes starting on January 23 in Chepstow’s Drill Hall, will explore some of the most beautiful and memorable images in art history, looking at how painters have represented the landscape over the centuries.

You don’t have to have any knowledge of art history, or to have been before and there is no coursework or homework. This course is about learning something new and having an enjoyable afternoon once a week looking at wonderful images and gaining new insights and understanding of art.

Landscape is now such a popular theme for artists it’s surprising to learn that was not always the case, and to see how ideas about fitting landscape into the space of a picture frame has sparked serious debate, and continues to influence the way we look at views and take photographs today.

Explore landscape in art from Renaissance visions of rural Arcadia to the huge skies and characteristic windmills of 17th century Holland, from the magical sunsets of Turner, through the colours of Impressionism to the near-abstract Pembrokeshire of Graham Sutherland.

At first, landscapes were a mere setting for the saints, but gradually emerged from the background to become celebrated in their own right. This ten week course will examine how the art of landscape reflected fashion, politics and painting techniques, from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

The great Renaissance painters such as Titian and Giorgione created visions of a rural Arcadia, peopled with musicians and goddesses, but the artists of 17th century Holland marked the country’s new-found independence by turning to the rolling skies and windmills of their everyday world.

In the 18th century, Britain began, for once, to lead the field in painting by focusing artistic energy on the landscape, culminating in the glorious, romantic images of Constable and Turner. But as Europe became increasingly industrialised, it was the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists who brought innovative ways of seeing the city and the countryside to the fore, laying the groundwork for the abstract artists of the 20th century to create a radical and challenging new art.

Join us at the Drill Hall, Chepstow on Monday afternoons (2pm-4pm from January 23, 2017) with popular Monmouthshire lecturer, Eleanor Bird, to examine 600 years of representations of the landscape. To reserve a place at Chepstow, contact Chepstow Museum tel 01291 625981