Open Courtauld

After Hours: Painting Oneself

Man looking at Van Gogh

‘People say – and I’m quite willing to believe it – that it’s difficult to know oneself – but it’s not easy to paint oneself either.’ Vincent van Gogh 

Join The Courtauld for an evening of culture after dark at our latest ‘After Hours’ event! Celebrating the first ever exhibition devoted to Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits across his entire career, this ‘After Hours’ will be made up of lightning talks, object study sessions, curator tours, activities, food and drink. Using Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, and the other self-portraits in the wider Courtauld collection, as inspiration this event centres round the idea of ‘Painting Oneself’. Take the opportunity to collaborate and participate in one-off performative and hands on interventions that rethink the myth of Vincent van Gogh, his extraordinary life and his stunning paintings.

We are delighted to announce, as part of this event, we are hosting a special performance of Vincent  and The Poets by Pele Cox.  This performance, held in front of the artworks, will be a unique way of revisiting the artist, his artworks and the poets who inspired him. Please note this event will have a limited capacity and ticket holders will be able to sign up beforehand. The exhibition will only be open to those attending the performance during this time.

Our After Hours series is produced as part of the Open Courtauld strand hosted by The Research Forum. This strand is all about sharing advanced research in art history, curating, and conservation, and is part of our Courtauld Connects project. 

Aligning with The Courtauld’s digital events series ‘Open Courtauld Hour’ our ‘After Hours’ will broach contemporary issues in society through participatory activities that encourage new perspectives and thinking, focused on The Courtauld collection.

Please note that valid Courtauld identification will be required for staff, student, volunteer, friend and partner tickets.

This event has passed.

16 Feb 2022

7pm - 9pm GMT

£0.00 - £16.00

The Courtauld Gallery

Booking closes 30 minutes before the event.


After HoursOpen Courtauld



We are delighted to announce we are hosting a special performance of Vincent  and The Poets by Pele Cox.  This performance, held in front of the artworks, will be a unique way of revisiting the artist, his artworks and the poets who inspired him.

7.15 – 8.00: Vincent and The Poets, Written by Pele Cox and Performed by Christian Roe, Richard Goulding, Fabio Barry, Suzi Feay and Michael Sandle.

Please note this event will have a limited capacity. The exhibition will only be open to those attending the performance during this time. 

Pop-up talks

Join our curators, conservators and art historians for expert talks on the self-portraits, hidden and obvious, in our collection.

  • 7.15 – 7.25: Profile self-portraits in a cap, Jonathan Richardson the elder, Drawings gallery (First Floor), Jasmine Clark
  • 7.30 – 7.40: Young Woman Powdering Herself, Georges Seurat, The LVMH Great room (Third Floor), Aviva Burnstock
  • 7.45 – 7.55: Unmoored from her Reflection,  Cecily Brown, Weston Gallery (Third Floor), Leyla Bumbra 
  • 8.00 – 8.10: Portrait of Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Gainsborough, Room 8, Fine rooms (Second Floor), Megan Levet
  • 8:15  – 8.25: Profile self-portraits in a cap, Jonathan Richardson the elder, Drawings gallery (First Floor), Jasmine Clark
  • 8.30 – 8.40: Portrait of Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Gainsborough, Room 8, Fine rooms (Second Floor), Megan Levet 

Curator Tours

Drop into our temporary exhibition, The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Van Gogh. Self-Portraits, where Karen Serres, curator, will give a ten-minute introduction to the exhibition at:

  • 8.00 
  • 8.30 

Karen will be between 8.00 and 8.45pm to answer your questions.

Please note that between 8.00 – 9.00 The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Van Gogh. Self-Portraits, Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries (Third Floor) will be open to all but numbers into the exhibition space will be limited at any given time. 


Drop in to learn more about Van Gogh’s time in London while also having a go at drawing yourself in our mini studio.

7.00 – 9.00: Van Gogh House London Takeover, Ticket Hall (Ground Floor)

7.00 – 9.00: Painting Yourself, Ticket Hall (Ground Floor)

Food, drink and shopping

  • 7.00 – 9.00: Both our stylish shop and pop-up bar will be open throughout the event. In each space we have crafted a shopping and eating experience inspired by the world-class artworks on display at The Courtauld.

Meet the experts, artists and performers!

Fabio Barry: Fabio is a historian of art and architecture, who has taught at the University of St. Andrews and Stanford University. His book Painting in Stone: Architecture and the Poetics of Marble from Antiquity until the Enlightenment (YUP 2020) won Apollo “Book of the Year 2021,” the 2021 Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and the 2021 PROSE Award of the Association of American Publishers. He is presently Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow at CASVA, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Leyla Bumbra: Leyla holds special responsibility for The Courtauld’s extensive Research Forum programme and public engagement activity, including the Open Courtauld Strand and the Decolonising Reading Group Scheme. She completed her MA(Hons) at The University of Glasgow in History of Art and Theatre Studies in 2015. After two years working in Paris and then Australia, Leyla returned to the UK to complete an MA in Gender, Society and Representation at UCL. Leyla then joined The Courtauld in 2019 as the Open Courtauld Producer and has now taken on the role of Research Forum Programme Manager.

Aviva Burnstock: Aviva Burnstock is a Professor of Conservation at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she took a PhD (1991) and a Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings (1984). From 1986-1992 she worked in the Scientific Department of the National Gallery, London after a year as a paintings conservator in Australia with the Regional Galleries Association of New South Wales. Her first degree is in Neurobiology (BSc University of Sussex 1981). She was awarded the first Joop Los Fellowship at the Institute for Molecular Physics (AMOLF /FOM) Amsterdam in 2003, and is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC). Aviva’s research interests include investigation of the materials and techniques used for painting; and characterisation of visual and material changes; the application of new methods for technical study; evaluating methods for conservation practice (for example methods for cleaning paintings); focus on the deterioration and conservation issues for modern oil paint and paintings.

Jasmine Clark: Jasmine is a current PhD student and Prints and Drawings Room Assistant here at The Courtauld.  Her thesis,Thinking on paper: The practice, theory and agency of silverware design for the early sixteenth-century Italian courts, is supervised by Prof. Guido Rebecchini.

Pele Cox: Pele Cox’ academic background spans art history and literature. Her BA in History of Art was followed by an MA Creative Writing (poetry) from UEA where she was tutored by Andrew Motion. This led to roles as inaugural Poet in Residence at TATE and at the Royal Academy of Arts, where her performances found diverse and entertaining ways to chart the biographies of our great artists and poets, a message for the formulas of creativity for culture lovers. Her performances of ‘Van Gogh and His Letters”, “Degas and the Dance, “David Hockney and Poetry”, “Obscuring the Word; Cy Twombly” were performed at the Royal Academy of Arts and at BAFTA. Her studies of the Romantic poets and work with John Murray and the British School at Rome led to her first film, ‘Lift Me Up I Am Dying’ which was made to commemorate the bicentenary of Keats’ death and screened on 23rd February on YouTube by the BSR and British Institute of Florence. Due to popular demand, she is currently making a film to mark the bicentenary of Shelley’s death in July 2022.

Suzi Feay: Suzi, formerly literary editor of the Independent on Sunday, has published her poetry in the London Magazine, Magma and Poetry Review, and performed at the South Bank, the Working Men’s College and at various festivals. Her poems ‘After Rodin’ and ‘Keats in Italy’ were featured in Pele Cox’s poem-films, ‘Rodin Reimagined’ (2020) and ‘Lift Me Up I Am Dying’ (2021).

Richard Goulding: Richard is best known for playing Prince Harry in the 2014 stage play King Charles III, and its 2017 BBC TV adaptation, as well as in 2016 television series The Windsors. Goulding is a visiting director at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and at which he appeared as Ivor Gurney in A Soldier and a Maker in 2012. His other stage work includes The Seagull (2007–2008) and A Mad World My Masters (2013) for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Way of the World at the Sheffield Crucible (2012), both runs of Posh (2010 and 2012), the 2012 King Lear at the Almeida Theatre and the 2013 Titus Andronicus and A Mad World My Masters with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Film and television work has included The Iron Lady, Foyle’s War and Fresh Meat. In 2019, he appeared as Boris Johnson in Toby Haynes’s Channel 4 production, Brexit: The Uncivil War, and as Daniel Radcliffe in the satirical comedy, Island of Dreams. In 2021 he played David Boutflour in the Netflix series White House Farm.

Megan Levet: Megan is a final year student at The Courtauld studying the Conservation of Easel Paintings. She previously completed a BA in the History of Art at The University of Birmingham. Megan participated in the Research Forum’s annual Painting Pairs project in 2021 where she presented findings on Ambrose McEvoy’s Noli me Tangere (after Titian). Her current research interests include retouching acrylic paintings.

Christian Roe: Christian made his stage debut in Oliver! at the London Palladium in 1997. He went on to perform in Hey! Mr. Producer at the Lyceum Theatre before training at the National Youth Theatre and LAMDA. His theatre credits include Roaring Trade (Soho Theatre), The Power of Yes (National Theatre), 66 Books (Bush Theatre), Monkey Bars (Traverse Theatre), Alpha Beta (Finborough Theatre) and several productions at the Unicorn Theatre including The Velveteen Rabbit (London, New York, Barcelona, Seattle). In 2016, Christian was delighted to participate in the Young Actors’ and Directors’ Meeting as part of the Ingmar Bergman International Theatre Festival at Dramaten, Stockholm. In 2017, his company fieldwork produced Public Enemy: Flint in response to the water crisis in that city, in collaboration with the Goodman, Centerstage Baltimore, Detroit Public Theatre and others. On television he can be seen in Wallander, Walter’s War, Criminal Justice, White Heat, Skins, Delicious and The Midwich Cuckoos. Since 2010, Christian has frequently collaborated with Pele Cox, inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Academy of Arts, on The Real Van Gogh, Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the Twentieth Century, Degas and the Ballet and Hockney: A Bigger Picture. These performances culminated in the gala event The Masters’ Room at BAFTA. He has also featured in performances at Keats’ House, Hampstead and Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Rome.

Michael Sandle: Michael RA was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994, and Royal Academician in 1989 and a Senior Royal Academician in 2011. Significant commissions include the Seafarer’s Memorial, 2001 for the International Maritime Organisation, on Albert Embankment London, Memorial to the victims of a Helicopter Disaster,1988, Mannheim, Germany; St George and the Dragon, 1988, London, and The Malta Siege- Bell Memorial, 1992, Grand Harbour Valletta, Malta. Sandle has exhibited widely internationally and in the UK had major solo exhibitions at amongst others, the Whitechapel Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, London; the Imperial War Museum, London; and Tate Liverpool. His work is held in the numerous collections including, the British Museum, London; Tate, London; Dallas Museum of Art, USA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Karen Serres: Karen Serres received her training in art history and museum studies at the Ecole du Louvre (1997) and the Sorbonne (1998) in Paris. She completed her MA (1999) and PhD (2004) at The Courtauld, where her research focused on French and Italian Baroque painting. She was then appointed Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, working on French and Italian painting and sculpture. She later became the Robert H. Smith Research Curator in the Sculpture Department of that institution. In 2009, she was named the Nina and Lee Griggs Associate Curator of European Art at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. She returned to the Courtauld as Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings in September 2012.

Van Gogh House London: 87 Hackford Road is a Grade II listed building that has been renovated and conserved by the Wang family. Following a major conservation project, the Van Gogh House London seeks to share the history of 87 Hackford Road, the Georgian terrace where Vincent van Gogh lived between 1873 to 1874. Rather than become a time capsule of Van Gogh’s year in Brixton, 87 Hackford Road celebrates the house’s remarkable legacy by hosting artist residencies in addition to guided tours, exhibitions and events.