About the Vincent Van Gogh – A Stranger on This Earth course
A two-day course to ponder the life and loves of Vincent Van Gogh.
Missionary, teacher, lover, painter, brother, son, flat mate and world-famous failure, he called himself ‘a sapling caught too young in the frost.’ There were family issues from which he never escaped – except perhaps in his paint.
Through his extraordinary letter-writing, we know him well. He hides nothing as we follow him from childhood in Zundert to the Hague to London to Paris to Arles to St Remy to Auvers-Sur-Oise, each restless move a crisis, a doorway; each a re-invention of himself and his work.
‘It is a pity Vincent is his own enemy,’ writes his younger brother Theo, ‘for he makes life difficult not only others, but also himself.’
While the painter and friend Emile Bernard noted his ‘lively gestures, perky step with his everlasting pipe…vehement in speech, interminable in explaining and developing his ideas but not very ready to argue.’
He is also the most famous painter in the world. Why?
Known by everyone as ‘the man who cut off his ear’ and for his suicide, the Van Gogh myth is powerful but sometimes untrue.
So who was Vincent? Where does his damage end and his beauty begin? Or are they one, beneath the starry, starry night?
About the course leader
CEO of the Mind Clinic which takes therapy into organisations and businesses, Simon Parke is a therapist, author and retreat leader. He was a priest in Church of England, serving in London for 20 years.
He first became interested in both therapy and Van Gogh when his daughter brought home a school project on the painter. Fifteen years later, he wrote Conversations with Vincent Van Gogh, based on the artist’s letters.
He has written extensively, including The Journey Home, which proposes ten new commandments for discovering your true self, as well as murder mysteries; historical fiction; and books on mindfulness, the Enneagram and award-winning scripts for TV and radio, including Spitting Image.
On leaving the priesthood, he worked in a supermarket for three years, an experience recorded in Shelf Life.