Lectures 2023/2024 Membership Year 2023/2024 5/6/24 Ian Swankie Thomas Heatherwick – A Modern Leonardo? The past decade has seen the meteoric rise of this extraordinarily versatile British designer with his acclaimed Olympic cauldron, the iconic new London bus and designs for a spectacular new HQ building for Google. Over the last twenty years the Heatherwick Studio has used an intriguing combination of curiosity and experimentation to produce a vast range of solutions to design challenges around the world. This talk looks at the problems presented, and the wonderfully creative ways in which Heatherwick and his team have responded. Thomas Heatherwick glasshouses for the Bombay Sapphire distillery. A modern extension to Laverstoke Mill. Andrewrabbott Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 3/7/24 Susan Kay-Williams History of the Royal School of Needlework In 2022 the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) will celebrate its 150th anniversary. It was founded to keep hand embroidery alive and to offer suitable occupation to educated women who would otherwise have been destitute. Today it is a thriving centre of hand embroidery education to the highest level. This lecture, goes behind the scenes to tell the story of the last 150 years and the School’s changing fortunes including: being part of the ‘Kensington set’; the links with the Arts and Crafts and Aestheticism movements; the connection with the SAS; the move to Hampton Court Palace and the variety of commissions the RSN has undertaken from wedding dresses to Oscar gowns and from runway garments to ecclesiastical vestments. There are no meetings in August and September Start of the new membership year 2024/25 2 October 2024 Jennifer Toynbee-Holmes The Ballet Russe – when Art danced with Music When Diaghilev created ballet in the west in the early twentieth century, he brought extraordinary revolutionary energy from Russia. 6 November 2024 Sally Dormer Mosaics and Marbles in 5th & 6th Century Ravenna The modest city of Ravenna, situated near the Adriatic coast in north-eastern Italy, hides an illustrious past filled with glittering treasures. In 402 A.D. Honorius, the Roman Emperor, moved the capital of the Western Roman empire from Milan to Ravenna, and furnished the city with churches clad in glistening mosaics and coloured marbles. Ravenna flourished after the demise of the Western Roman Empire under King Theodoric as capital of the Ostrogothic kingdom, who enriched it with further splendid mosaic-filled monuments. Baptism of Christ. Mosaic in Arian Baptistry. Ravenna, Italy. Ввласенко Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 4 December 2024 Anna Bianco Decoding the Saints – Medieval Saints and their Symbols Can you ever remember which saint is which? Who carries the wheel? And which John is the one with the lamb and which is the one with chalice and snake? This lecture is designed to give members the edge when travelling around the churches, galleries and museums of UK and Europe – helping them to ‘decode’ the saints. The lecture explores the visual splendours that were created to glorify saints, martyrs and important Christian figures. Drawing from paintings, metal work, sculpture and manuscripts the lecture explores ancient saints such as St Stephen (the first Christian martyr) to historic saints such as St Thomas Becket and St Louis IX King of France. 8 January 2025 Anne Haworth The Ming Dynasty – Power, Craftsmanship and Tea in China’s Empire of Brightness The Ming Dynasty came to power in 1368. Ming translates as bright and the first emperors of this new dynasty were regarded as semi-divine and blessed by the 'Mandate of Heaven'. China's new capital city, Beijing, had massive fortified walls which protected the Imperial Palace - the Forbidden City. Fine craftsmanship developed under the patronage of the emperors including the making of glittering gold vessels which reflected the brightness of the new dynasty, brilliantly coloured red lacquer, jade sculptures and porcelain vessels including the legendary 'Ming Vases'. Lustrous silk was made into robes and tiny embroidered shoes for ladies with bound 'golden lotus' feet. Photo: Copyrighted Anne Haworth 5 February 2025 Caroline Bendix Bound to Learn – a Brief History of Western Bookbinding This lecture looks at western bookbinding, in particular during the age of the printed book. Aspects of the book trade, including bookbinding practices and materials used in bindings are shown and, as structure and decoration changed as the centuries passed, the individual binders’ fingers tell their own tale as the craft developed. The bookbinding trade has long recycled waste materials, some of which may be more valuable than the books themselves. Bookbindings also provide an insight into the owner’s wealth and station in life, as books were bought unbound and bindings were therefore generally chosen by the first owner until the 19th century. 5 March 2025 Barbara Askew Charles I – King and Collector – 400th anniversary of his accession This lecture celebrates the 400th Anniversary of Charles I’s accession to the throne in 1625. Charles I’s obsession for collecting works of art began when as a 22-year-old prince he travelled to Spain and saw the magnificent collection of the Spanish king, Philip IV. On becoming King in 1625 Charles purchased the fabulous collection of the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua which included works by Titian, Raphael and Andrea Mantegna’s astonishing series of paintings “The Triumphs of Caesar”. Photo: Copyrighted Barbara Askew 2 April 2025 Joanne Rhymer Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) – Painting in Paris Mary Cassatt was the only American artist to exhibit with the French Impressionists in their independent exhibitions. When the artist, Edgar Degas, persuaded her to stop exhibiting work at the Paris Salon - the official art exhibitions in the capital - and to exhibit instead with his artistic colleagues, she stated that, ‘I accepted with joy… I hated conventional art.’ Cassatt went on to make outstanding contributions to four of the eight Impressionist exhibitions. Like her Impressionist colleagues, Cassatt represented modern life, but the subjects suitable for a ‘respectable’ woman such as Cassatt were limited. 7 May 2025 Rosamund Bartlett The Culture of Ukraine – Art, Literature, Music and History This lecture tells the multifaceted Ukrainian story through the shared culture which binds its diverse people together, including the sacred art and architecture of Kyiv inherited from Byzantium, the rich legacy of the Cossacks, and a treasury of poetry, painting and song. We will also look at the key role played by folk culture in the years before Ukraine's emergence as an independent nation, whether "red icons" on glass or the country's remarkable embroidery tradition, which had a surprising influence on avant-garde art. Photo; Copyrighted Rosamund Bartlett 4 June 2025 Sue Jackson The Cultural Heritage of the Huguenots The Huguenots came to England in huge numbers in the late 17th century bringing a wide variety of skills - as silk weavers, silversmiths, clock makers, opticians, bankers, gilders, iron workers, horticulturists etc. Names such as Paul de Lamerie, Samuel Courtauld and Jean Tijou spring to mind. In virtually all areas, they were innovators and more advanced than the English who were forced to improve their own skills or go out of business. Although the majority settled in London, others found their way to East Anglia, Macclesfield and Canterbury. This talk examines their lasting legacy. Photo: Copyrighted Sue Jackson 2 July 2025 Georgina Bexon Australian Indigenous Art – 50,000 years ago to the present day The Australian indigenous people possess probably the oldest continuous culture on our planet. From the extraordinary early rock and cave art to the modern oil painting, these artists are great storytellers, passing their mystic culture and sense of the sacred nature of the landscape down the generations. This talk investigates the early beginnings of this fascinating art and traces its development to the modern day where it is exhibited in international galleries and sells for high prices on the world art market. Photo: Copyrighted Georgian Bexon (AGM: please be seated by 10.30am )
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