10th March 2020
Turner v Constable. The Great British Paint Off – Nicola Moorby
This lecture will cover the story of the epic rivalry between the two giants of British art, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. It will examine their differences, their similarities, their battles and their shared triumphs.
14th April 2020
Tulipomania – The Tulip Decorative Flower on European and Asian Ceramics – Anne Haworth
The lecture explores the passion for the exotic and beautiful tulip flower which reached its height in Amsterdam in the 1630s. The coveted tulip featured as a motif on still-life flower paintings by Balthasar van der Ast and Ambrosius Bosschaert and on many different works of art from furniture to embroideries, furniture, ceramics and silver.
12th May 2020
Discovering MacDonald Gill: Architect, Artist and Mapmaker – Caroline Walker
This illustrated talk by Max Gill’s great-niece presents a colourful overview of this versatile artist’s personal life and artistic achievements.
MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill, was an architect, graphic designer and letterer, best known for his pictorial maps, especially those for the London Underground.
He also created painted maps for Arts & Crafts houses including Lindisfarne Castle, magnificent murals for Cunard liners, and eye-catching publicity posters for organisations such as the Empire Marketing Board.
An enduring legacy is his alphabet for the Imperial War Graves Commission used on all British military headstones since the First World War.
9th June 2020
Winston Churchill, The Artist – Claire Walsh
In 1915 Churchill was rescued from depression by the ‘muse of painting’. Painting was the mainstay that allowed one of our greatest national leaders to achieve all that he did.
The most fascinating aspects of this exploration of a talent beyond the mere amateur is the role it played in his personal and political life, the restorative power of the process of painting, and the insight it allows us into the art of his age. Churchill took lessons from Lavery, Sickert and Nicholson, and the choices he made tell us much about the colour, texture and direction of art in the early-twentieth century.
14th July 2020
Sunken Treasure from the East: Tales of Oriental Shipwreck Porcelain – Marie Conte-Helm
The story of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain speaks of the important trade between East and West along both the overland and maritime Silk Roads. The cobalt blue mineral, or ‘Mohammedan Blue’, that provided the distinctive under-glaze colour of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain owed its origins to China’s early trade with Persia. During the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese imperial kilns at Jingdezhen perfected the production of blue-and-white wares and thus extended the scope of China’s trade with the West. Oriental export porcelain has its own rich history, enhanced by tales of shipwrecks and lost cargoes, that hints of the fascination for these products from the East, that came to be adapted for Western markets. This lecture will trace the history of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain and the trade in export porcelain. It will also recount tales of salvaging operations that have resulted in the recovery of sunken treasures from the East. The ‘Nanking Cargo’ and the ‘Hoi An Hoard’ are but two examples of early shipwrecks in Eastern waters, the recovery of which have enhanced our understanding of blue-and-white porcelain and its wider commercial impact.
8th September 2020
Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera. The Golden Age of Mexican Painting – Chloe Sayer
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957) have iconic status in Mexico. Rivera’s intricate visual narratives, rich with allegory and symbolism, adorn the walls of public buildings. Inspired by Aztec and Maya imagery, and by early Italian fresco painting, his vast murals combine social criticism with faith in human progress. Kahlo’s work, unlike Rivera’s, is small in format. Arguably Mexico’s most original painter, she made herself the principal theme of her art. Her paintings reflect her experiences and dreams. This lecture surveys the work of both artists; it chronicles their turbulent marriage and Mexico’s history after the 1910 Revolution.
13th October 2020
William Morris: Wallpaper – Joanna Banham
William Morris was a one-man pattern-making phenomenon whose work had a powerful and lasting impact on many areas of interior design. He is probably best-known today as a designer of wallpapers and this lecture examines the development and production of his work in this genre from his early medievalising patterns to his more elegant mature style. It explores the sources and inspiration for his wallpapers, changes in style, and how and where they were used, all within the context of 19thcentury design.
10th November 2020
Rupert – the Anthropomorphic bear – Howard Smith
Launched nearly 100 years ago, Rupert has had three official artists and this is the story of each of them and their creativity that has made Rupert the longest standing strip thrilling generations with his adventures
Our Programme for 2021
12th January 2021
Cleopatra: The Most Womanly of Women and the most Queenly of Queens’
Cleopatra, the woman for whose love’s sake Antony is imagined to have given up the chance to rule the Roman world, has been inspiring painters, poets and (more recently) film-makers for over two millennia. Their gorgeously voluptuous depictions of her offer insights into changing concepts of beauty, and into the racial and sexual assumptions underlying them.
Showing images ranging from Roman portrait busts, through medieval illuminations, the glorious works of Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, the splendour of Tiepolo and the exoticism of Gustave Moreau to 20th century film stars (Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and the Carry On team’s Amanda Barry), Lucy will show how Cleopatra became a screen onto which artists have projected their wildly differing fantasies about exotic danger and erotic bliss.
9th February 2021
Secret Art of the Passport – How we use it to fox Forgers
From the wax seal to the microchip, man has exploited the skill of the artist and artisan in his attempt to manufacture a forgery-proof document. Taking you through three centuries of passport design, this lecture explains the overt and uncovers the covert to illustrate the defences built in to the passport and the tricks the forger uses to defeat them. You will never see your passport in the same light again!
9th March 2021
Life and Art of Marianne North: Victorian Botanical Artist and Traveller
Accomplished botanical painter and inveterate traveller, Marianne North (1830-1890) led an unconventional life capturing the life essence of exotic and rare plants in their native lands. Born in Hastings, her pursuit of plants took her round the world. This talk explores both the life and social context of Marianne North, including discussion of why her paintings troubled deeply conservative Victorian society and the eventual creation of her gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
painting by Marianne North
13 April 2021
Antony Gormley and the New Face of Tradition
Antony Gormley makes fascinating and challenging sculptures based on his own and other people’s bodies. Many of his works are life-size and made of lead or other metal, and can often be found in unusual locations such as the Australian desert, in the sea off the Liverpool coast or on the rooftops of London. Works other than these very personal portraits range from the enormous Angel of the North, which is 65 feet (20 metres) high and can be seen at a great distance from the A1 at Gateshead, to his various fields of tens of thousands of small clay figures made under his guidance by ordinary members of the public. At both ends of the scale, his work is astonishing and thought-provoking, and sheds a new light on the tradition of sculpture involving the human body.
11th May 2021
Cathedrals: Safe Places to do Risky Things
Janet GoughThis talk provides an overview of the Church of England’s magnificent 42 cathedrals, jewels in the crown of England’s built heritage, some recognised as World Heritage Sites. Beautifully illustrated by Country Life photographer, Paul Barker, in addition to looking at their history and stories, evolving architecture and treasures, the talk considers the role of cathedrals over the centuries and specifically their role today.
8th June 2021
The Beauty and History of Frames
The lectures includes a brief history of frames and focuses on their design and construction. Julia also discusses the conservation of frames, and how to choose the right one to transform a painting and display it to its best advantage.
– The History of Frames – including how frames have developed in Europe, incluenced often by prevailing architectural styles.
– The Design & Making of Frames – an insight into their design & selection; gilding techniques over time, together with the materials used in the workshop.
13th July 2021
14th September 2021
Canal History and Heritage
This lecture provides a colourful introduction to the secret world of our 2000-mile inland waterway network and looks at all aspects of their exceptional artistic, architectural and engineering vernacular. Features range from sweeping aqueducts to tiny bollards; from colourful historic narrowboats to ‘Roses and Castles’ artwork; from grand World Heritage Sites to quirky listed buildings. A well-known architectural historian once described our canals as a ‘poor man’s art gallery’.
12th October 2021
Caravaggio: A master of light and shadow
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a man out of step with his time. Scorning the traditional idealised interpretation of religious subjects, he took his models from the streets, painting them realistically and heightening the emotional intensity by his dramatic contracts of light and shade. Such a revolutionary style was condemned by many as was his equally dramatic personal life and uncontrollable temper which involved him in endless brawls and even murder. This lecture will study the life and works of this enigmatic man and of his influence on later artists.
9th November 2021
The Art of the dance
Since the birth of the earliest human civilisations, dance has been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations, a method of healing and a means of expression and entertainment.
Using stills and video clips we take a look at dance as an art form from its earliest beginnings; through the birth and rapid development of ballet throughout Europe, the explosion of modern dance in the early 20th century a time of unprecedented creative growth for dancers and choreographers and with the growth of post-modernism from the 1960s the expansion of street dance, hip-hop, break dancing and rock dance.