Tricha Passes is a Teaching Fellow in History of Art. Her ‘Best of Bristol’ Lecture on the 14th of March explores the role of the Parisian Café as a meeting place for the exchange of art and ideas in the early twentieth century.
Who inspired you to go to university?
My parents encouraged me to go, and I went with the goal and expectation of increasing my knowledge and understanding of art history. The lecturers at the Courtauld Institute were very inspirational.
Tell us about your favourite teacher.
Dr. Robert Ratcliffe was a brilliant teacher, and one who really made me think about the power of looking and pausing to look and reflect. He was an expert in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, particularly on Paul Cezanne.
Did you know what you wanted to do after university?
I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do after university, but I knew I wanted to work in the creative arts!
What kinds of things do you do in the classroom to engage your students?
I like students to think about the cultural impact of the period that they are studying and researching. The use of music, film and poetry all play a very significant role in aiding our understanding.
Have you got any surprising stories from your time as an art historian?
I think my most surprising stories come from the fascinating interviews I have undertaken with a range of artists and their families. I remember taking the railway historian and travel writer George Behrend out for a midsummer meal in the Scottish Highlands while I interviewed him about his father’s commissioning of Sir Stanley Spencer for the Burghclere murals. He had been a chauffeur for a time to Benjamin Britten, the composer! He had some good stories to tell.
What do you like to do to relax in your free time?
I like to wild swim or go for a walk in the woods.
What advice would you give students who are worried about the future after university?
It is as important to know what you don’t want to do, as well as what you want to aim for. Use all the university and friend networks to help you on your way. Don’t be shy about writing to people or companies you want to work for. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – shoot out those arrows!
Have you got a favourite café in Bristol or Paris?
My favourite café in Paris is one facing Place des Voges in Le Marais, and my favourite in Bristol is The Albion in Clifton, though that’s technically a pub.
Describe your lecture in three words?
I can do it in six: ‘A journey to a past time.’
Reserve your free tickets for Tricha’s lecture now: ‘Cafe Cosmopolitanism in a Pre-Starbucks Age: Paris Internationalism pre-WW1’