Candidate Profile

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History - Art & Culture
Vikings & Scandinavia
John is now retired but spent the whole of his working life in education, ending his career as a headteacher with an added role as an Information Technology adviser. He has a degree in philosophy, an MA in research and various teaching diplomas. He has always been interested in communicating ideas and has addressed teachers in Italy and Finland, through interpreters, as well as leading innumerable training sessions.

John has a wide, eclectic mix of interests. He has held several photography exhibitions and given talks to various groups on mainly arts subjects. He enjoys the theatre, music, and painting in watercolours combined with extensive reading.

Since retirement he has become involved with his local museum where he organises holidays, outings and speakers for talks, as well as being a regular speaker himself, and publishes an award-winning newsletter.

1. The Vikings:Warriors, Traders and Poets.
This is an introduction to the Vikings looking at their travels, their cultural achievements, and their life style while never forgetting the dark side of their history.

2. How to live and die like a Viking
The Icelandic sagas are mediaeval novels. They tell of family feuds giving much detail of everyday life. Combining these stories with advice from Viking poetry we see how a Viking was expected to live and die.

3. Egil's Saga
Egil Skallagrimson is one of the great characters in the Icelandic Sagas. In this talk we hear about his life, his poetry, his battles and find how far archaeology goes in proving his existence.

4. Viking Magic
The Vikings were deeply involved in magical practices. We shall see the power of the runes, of scorn horses, learn recipes to improve married life and find what the Viking attitude was towards the performers of magic.

5. The World Tree of the Vikings: Gods, Wisdom and Monsters
The talk covers the creation of the world in Viking myth and world trees from ancient Egypt to the oaks of Zeus
The Viking world tree called Ygdrassil is home to animals, Middle Earth and Valhalla, springs and monsters. How do we know about it?

6. Myths of Thor: stories the Vikings loved to hear
Introduction to Thor, the god of thunder, the friend of men. Stories about Thor abound, some comic, some magical, some heroic. We shall look at some of these myths and the art which they inspired.

7. Loki the Mischief Maker. How to trick Norse Gods, Giants and fair Maidens.
There are Trickster gods and shape-shifters in other cultures but Loki really stands out. The Viking gods often relied upon him but also treated him with deep distrust. At times he was their saviour, eventually he was their nemesis.

8. Ragnarok: the end of the Viking world in Myth and Reality
The myth of Ragnarok is one of the world's great stories, telling of the end of the Viking gods and their world. But what really happened to the Vikings?

These all make heavy use of artists’ interpretations of the subjects and where appropriate look at representations from a broad historical range. Each 45min talk uses about 40 Powerpoint slides, all pictorial.

1. Philosophy and the Perception of Beauty.
A tour through ideas of beauty looking at philosophical theories, proportion and morality. Beautiful people from Helen of Troy to Brad Pitt.

2. A Greek Myth in Art – Theseus and the Minotaur.
We move from ancient vases to Picasso with a trip into Dante’s Inferno.

3. The Last Man to Know Everything.
Athanasius Kircher was the 17th Century expert on anything and everything. The first man to translate hieroglyphics and possibly the first mad inventor. His books are copiously illustrated and I use his own illustrations to reveal his times and achievements.

4. The Art of Forgery.
From Michelangelo to a Bolton Garden Shed. Does art forgery matter? Famous forgeries – a Roman Emperor’s gift, Operation Mincemeat and loads of money.

5. How Do You View?
Does what you know effect what you see? Does size matter? Optical illusions. Seeing the bigger picture.

6. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.
Stories the paintings tell. How do you know who’s who? Is that just a monkey?

7. The story of Perseus and Andromeda.
Perseus was one of the Greek heroes, a monster killer. He and Andromeda are now in the stars together with many of their relatives. We explore the link between Perseus and the Titan rocket, between the Gorgon and Dante’s transport through the underworld.

8. John Ruskin The champion of Venice.
A prolific writer, artist and traveller, Ruskin was the most influential critic of his day. Slides show the work of all artists mentioned, the places Ruskin visited and of course his own work.

9. Sandro Botticelli.
From the Sistine Chapel to Florence and the Bonfire of the Vanities. Botticelli painted some of the world’s most famous and beautiful pictures which all carry deeper meanings.

10. The First Emperor of China.
The man who made the Terracotta Warriors, but much more. There are also figures of great beauty. His search for eternal life and his burning of the books. A theme in this talk is how history is written by the victors .
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sky SK180721 Into the Midnight Sun 14 Bergen Saturday, July 21, 2018
Viking Sky SK180707 Into the Midnight Sun 14 Greenwich, London Saturday, July 7, 2018
Viking Sky SK180526 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Saturday, May 26, 2018
Viking Sky SK180512 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Saturday, May 12, 2018
Viking Sea SE180106 West Indies Explorer 10 San Juan Saturday, January 6, 2018
Viking Sea SE170611 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Sunday, June 11, 2017
Viking Sea SE170528 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Sunday, May 28, 2017
Viking Sea SE170404 Mediterranean Odyssey 12 Venice Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Viking Sea SE170326 Empires of the Mediterranean 9 Athens (from Piraeus) Sunday, March 26, 2017
Viking Star ST160221 Grand Mediterannean Tour 14 Barcelona Sunday, February 21, 2016
Boudicca D1512 Norwegian Fjords 7 Rosyth, Scotland Monday, June 1, 2015