Image of an Indonesian artist at work

Discover the art of South East Asia

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 1 hour a week
  • Saturdays 10:30 - 11:30
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • Tutor: Viv Lawes
  • Fees from £65 to £110
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking Link

South-east Asia has been a centre for the production of astonishing art for thousands of years and that tradition continues today in the work of the artists of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and their neighbours. In the increasingly globalised world of the late twentieth century and now these ancient artistic traditions have fused with Western art practises creating unique and fascinating forms of art in this part of the world.

We invite you to join us in the company of the art historian Viv Lawes (Sky Arts, Sotherby's Institute) on an exploration into the history of the arts of south-east Asia as this ten-week course looking at the practice of fine art and the decorative arts in south-east asia in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

The course traces the unfolding history of artistic self-identity in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and also looks at the intersection between East and West in China and Japan since the late nineteenth-century. As well as the impact of modern global communication in the art world, we will see the rapid changes that occurred in the art practices of south-east Asia during and after the periods of Western colonisation.

This course is aimed at complete beginners and so no previous knowledge of art or design history or practice is necessary. It is also suitable for those who have some background in art and design history or practice.

Online access to course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

The following programme may be subject to minor modification

Japan and China

  • Week 1: Japan: Isolationism, the Meiji Restoration and the Fight for National Identity
  • Week 2: China: International Discourse from the Fall of the Qing Dynasty to Modern Ink Painting


  • Week 3: British Art in the Powerhouse of Southeast Asia
  • Week 4: The Nanyang Ethos in Singapore and the Birth of an Independent Art World


  • Week 5: Finding the Modern
  • Week 6: The Contemporary World of Malaysian Art

From the East Indies to Indonesia

  • Week 7: Raden Saleh and the Mooi Indies
  • Week 8: From the East Indies to Indonesia: Independence, Politics and International Discourse

The Philippines

  • Week 9: The Jesuits, the Salon and Uncle Sam
  • Week 10: The Marcos Era and Moving into the Global Arena

                                      Additional Reading

                                      There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text, but if you would like to read more on the subject we suggest:


                                      Your Tutor

                                      Photograph of Viv Lawes Viv Lawes (Sky Arts/Sotherby's Institute/etc) is an author, journalist, lecturer and curator with over 25 years’ experience in the art market.

                                      Viv studied History at York University and graduated with an MA in Fine and Decorative Art from Sotheby’s Institute in 1997, where her thesis focused on the textile trade between England and India/ China in the 17th and 18th centuries. She is Senior UK Consultant for Singapore-based gallery One East Asia and has curated numerous exhibitions of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art in London since 2011. She has written catalogue essays for many Southeast Asian contemporary artists, including Chang Fee Ming (Malaysia), Jane Lee (Singapore) and Andres Barrioquinto (Philippines). She recently co-authored a forthcoming book on the late Singaporean artist Teng Nee Cheong (1951-2013).

                                      As well as teching at the Sotheby’s Institute Viv lectures at the City & Guilds of London Art School, L'Institut d’Etudes Supérieures des Arts (IESA) and the University of the Arts, London. She is also a NADFAS-accredited lecturer, travelling widely in the UK, Europe and Asia.

                                      As a journalist she has written for many national and international arts publications, including The Art NewspaperAntiques Trade GazetteThe GuardianArt + AuctionCountry LifeThe Royal Academy Magazine and the British Antiques Dealers Association annual handbook. She is currently in the finishing stages of writing a book, Horse: A History of Equine Bronze Sculpture, for the Sladmore Gallery, London.

                                      Course Delivery: Live Online Taught Courses

                                      All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

                                      All times stated are British Standard Time.

                                      To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.


                                      This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

                                      Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

                                      We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

                                      Course Fees and Rate Categories

                                      HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
                                      10  10  £110*
                                      * There is no Early Bird rate available for one-term courses starting in October

                                      Rate Categories and Discounts

                                      Standard Rate

                                      • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

                                      Internal Rate

                                      • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
                                      • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
                                      • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
                                      • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact before completing the online enrolment form

                                      Associate Rate

                                      • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
                                      • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
                                      • City & Guilds College Association members
                                      • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
                                      • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
                                      • Harrods staff
                                      • Historic Royal Palaces staff
                                      • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
                                      • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
                                      • Members of the Kennel Club
                                      • Members of the London Zoological Society
                                      • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
                                      • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
                                      • Natural History Museum staff
                                      • National Health Service (NHS) employees
                                      • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
                                      • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
                                      • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
                                      • Royal Geographical Society staff
                                      • Science Museum staff
                                      • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
                                      • Students (non-Imperial College)
                                      • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
                                      • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
                                      • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
                                      • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

                                      Late enrolment

                                      It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

                                      Applicable terms & conditions

                                      Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

                                      Term Dates

                                      HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
                                       10  10 11 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (10 weeks)* n/a n/a n/a
                                      * This is a one-term course

                                      Enrolment Process

                                      Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

                                      Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

                                      • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
                                      • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
                                      • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
                                      • The following email notifications are sent:
                                      What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
                                      1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
                                      • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
                                      • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
                                      2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
                                      • Re-confirms your course choice
                                      • Shows your course's term dates
                                      • Confirms the day and time of your course
                                      3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
                                      • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
                                      If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

                                      Any Questions?

                                      • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the programme manager for adult education, Dr Michael Paraskos at
                                      • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator,