Event Details

  • When: Sunday, 03 March 2019
  • Dates:  Sunday 3rd to Friday 8th March

    Times: From 7:30pm on Sunday until 12:30pm on Friday

    Where: Emerson College Campus, Forest Row, East Sussex, UK

    Course Fees:
    (including lunch & art materials)
    Whole week £380*
    Daily £76

    *For prices for on-campus accomodation options please click the booking link below.



    To your place on this course and your stay at Emerson please CLICK HERE


SHORT COURSE: Open Symposium on Leonardo da Vinci

SHORT COURSE: Open Symposium on Leonardo da Vinci

Join Giovanna Conforto, Philip Kilner and guests to explore Leonardo da Vinci's fables connecting them to science, art, sacred geometry, perspective and light, botany in this hands-on experience week.

“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.”

Join our journey on inquiry inspired by Leonardo’s legacy, with: Giovanna Conforto, storyteller, Philip Kilner, scientist and artist, Mary-Anne Paterson, artist and art therapist and Trude Lauksund, gardener and botanist. No previous experience of storytelling, art or science needed.

Five hundred years after his life (15 April 1452 - 2 May 1519), Leonardo’s painted and drawn masterpieces communicate as clearly as ever. The wanderings of his tireless curiosity were navigated and recorded by drawing. Less known are his fables - intriguing and often tantalisingly inconclusive...

We will gather for this open, playful, inquiring symposium at 7.30 pm on Sunday evening, March 3rd, in the Storytelling Hut at Emerson College (till 9.00 pm).

The following days (9.00 am to 5.00 pm) will be themed as follows:

  • Monday 4 March: “Fables, Forms and Perspectives”, led by Giovanna and Philip.
  • Tuesday 5 March: “Fluidity and the Heart”, led by Philip, Giovanna and Mary-Anne.
  • Wednesday 6 March:“Organic Nature”, led by Trude, Giovanna and Mary-Anne.
  • Thursday 7 March:“Human Characters and Stories”, led by Giovanna and Mary-Anne.

The symposium will finish at 12.30 pm on Friday 8 March, after a morning of contributions and concluding reflection.


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Giovanna Conforto - Storyteller, Teacher and Event Producer

Born in England of Italian parents she has always been passionate about theatre and performing arts. In 1997 she graduated from the National Academy of Dramatic Arts “Silvio D’Amico” in Rome where she later obtained an advanced degree in Teacher’s Training. Since then, her activity is divided between performing, teaching and organizing events. As storyteller she has participated in events and festivals all over Europe, North America and Asia.

Giovanna is the Creative director of the Italian Storytelling Center.  In recent years, she has co-founded The Strolling Stories, storywalks dedicated to historical and artistic sites in Rome, Latium and Tuscany and has co-created the project Habla Cadabra, an international multilingual storytelling festival touring on a bus. She is lecturer at the Master’s Degree in Arts Management at IED University in Rome, has been collaborating with various universities all over Europe and in Asia and is teacher at the School of Storytelling, Emerson College (UK).

Giovanna is co-author of the European Science Theatre guidelines for the creative teaching of science and is member of the Storytelling & Peace Council.  The Storytelling and Peace Councilis an international gathering of 25 experienced storytellers from over 16 countries dedicated to the growth and development of peace and creativity in a wide variety of life contexts, including multicultural education, social work, business, mediation and social healing.



Dr Philip Kilner, MD, PhD (Goethean science and art-science synergy)

Philip studied medicine in London and worked as a junior doctor before widening his horizons through life in Camphill communities and studies of sculpture and flow with John Wilkes at Emerson College. These led him back to medical research, initially on fluid dynamic aspects of heart surgery, and then in the field of diagnostic imaging of the heart by magnetic resonance (MRI).

Two contributions that Philip has made to BBC broadcasts are accessible online:

Two minute extract from "Heart versus mind: what makes us human?"

"What scientists believe": 28 minute audio, interviewed by Stephen Webster.


Mary Anne Patterson 

Mary-Anne Paterson - Healing Arts

Mary-Anne Paterson, is a Teacher, Social Arts Practitioner and International Lecturer for over twenty years. She gives talks and workshops in Universities and Arts centres in the U.K, Czech Republic (ULumo University, Prague, Jesinik) Switzerland and Israel while periodically organizing local arts festivals and exhibitions .

"Marie-Anne is an extremely knowledgeable and experienced teacher whose skilful facilitation and encouragement is very enabling." Lee: Student October 2014


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Trude Lauksund  - Lead Gardener & Biodynamic Course Leader

She lived most of her life in Vesterålen, a group of islands on the cost of northern Norway, 300 miles above the arctic circle. Despite the harsh climate, a longing to grow plants developed, and for many years, she filled her garden with beautiful flowers and vegetables. 

When her youngest child left for university she made a big leap: she decided to not just garden as a hobby, but to do this full time.
She did her biodynamic training at Emerson College, and was an apprentice at Tablehurst Farm the year after.
She still lives at Tablehurst Farm, where she shares the task of being house parent in Tablehurst Care home with her partner Torsten.
She is always on a quest for what is going on in the soil and passionate about growing healthy and tasty biodynamic vegetables for Emerson kitchen, and loads of beautiful flowers for everyone to enjoy.