Web site designed, created and maintained by Janet Groome, Handshake Computer Training.
Past Lectures 3rd July 2019 AGM please be seated by 10.30am Jennie Churchill - Winston’s American mother - Style icon or Ambitious Seductress. by Anne Sebba Jennie Churchill has been treated unfairly in history as a woman with 200 lovers but 2011, 90 years since Jennie’s tragically premature death, is surely the time to re-evaluate her legacy. In 1874, aged 20, American-born Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill. When this ended in disaster she threw all her energies into her son Winston - her number one creative project. However, she had no income in an age when women were not expected to earn a living so indulged in various loss making projects until becoming an interior designer before the term was invented. History of Jennie Churchill 5th June 2019 Adventures in 3 Dimensions, 20th Century sculpture in Britain by Justine Hopkins Modern sculpture is mysterious to many people, notoriously difficult and inaccessible both to look at and in the endless critical expositions which complicate more than they clarify. The works of Epstein, Moore, Hepworth, Frink and their contemporaries stand at the heart of our time, yet too often we are intimidated where we should be enthralled. The story of sculpture through the 20th century shows form manipulated to explore emotion as well as appearance, materials dictating meaning as well as shape and a three- dimensional language used as expressively as any poet or novelist to reveal the rhythms and meanings of life itself. The viewing of sculpture is an exploration, an adventure, something to be enjoyed. This lecture sets out to prove that we can all be explorers. 1st May 2019 In the Wake of Handel, The impact of Handel on 300 years of British Culture by Peter Medhurst Despite his German birth and his Italian musical training, Handel remains one of the most important composers that England ever nurtured. Not only did his music have direct influence on his musical contemporaries, but his largerthan-life personality had a profound effect on the literary, visual and decorative arts as well – both in his lifetime and after his death, in 1759. By exploring the works of the French sculptor Roubiliac, the paintings of Hudson and Denner, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, the novels of Samuel Butler, the Crystal Palace, the chimes of Westminster, as well as compositions by Sullivan and Tippett, the lecture assesses the cultural influences Handel had on a nation, as he once wrote, “from whom I have receiv’d so Generous a protection”. Music performed may include: Handel in the Strand – P Grainger, Tune Your Harps from Esther – GF Handel, My Voice Shalt Thou Hear Betimes, O Lord – J Corfe, This Helmet I Suppose was Meant to Ward off Blows from Princess Ida – AS Sullivan. Background to Handel’s life 3rd April 2019 The Language of Clothes, Visual Codes and Messages by Mary Alexander The Puritans viewed clothes as dangerous ‘tools of the devil’, whereas Louis XIV of France described fashion as ‘the mirror of history’. Whatever the historical context, clothing and fashion have been used to denote wealth and status, or to differentiate between social groups as fashion statement/antistatement and to display disaffection or affiliation, often interpreted through complex and subtle visual codes. This lecture encompasses a wide historical selection of paintings, male and female clothing, photographs and advertisements – ranging from the medieval sumptuary laws to the ubiquitous designer logo and corporate brand. Extracts from letters, journals and literature will be used throughout. An informative, entertaining and challenging ‘ideas’ lecture aimed at encouraging new ways of looking at clothing as a means of creative self expression in the visual arts. Background of how we view clothes 6th March 2019 Popes and Painters The Avignon Papacy & the Impressionists of Provence by Caroline Rayman This is the story of two groups of people who were forced to find refuge in this beautiful corner of France. The first was a set of Popes, known as The Avignon Popes, escaping from frightening trouble in Rome, and the second a group of artists, known as The Impressionists, who were forced out of the Paris by the derision of the Salon, who similarly found peace and inspiration in Provence. Click here for the history of the Avignon Popes 6th February 2019 Eric Ravilious, his Life and Work by James Russell Eric Ravilious was only 39 when he died on active service as a war artist in 1942, yet he had already achieved amazing things. A brilliant wood engraver and designer, he is best known today for his haunting watercolours in which lighthouses, white horses, empty rooms and downland paths become marvels. Over the past decade I’ve explored many of these paintings in depth, teasing out stories and characters hidden in the wings. This entertaining illustrated talk illuminates the life and work of a playful, enigmatic artist, with plentiful examples of his work in watercolour, wood engraving, lithography and ceramics. The paintings are a delight, the Ravilious story funny, sad and full of surprises. Tate page on Eric Ravilious. 2nd January 2019 The Evolution of the Interior by Anthony Rayworth The design of residential interiors in the 21st century is, for the first time in history, required to address exceptionally complex and sophisticated requirements from a diverse and well informed range of clients. Contemporary interior design successfully reappraises the boundaries between traditional notions of style, taste and function and may include the re- adaptation of historical style, a fresh interpretation of rustic charm or revised interpretations of carefully curated minimalism. This illustrated talk examines the portfolios of leading international practitioners, identifying emerging themes and ideas shaping the evolution of the residential interior. History of Interior Design 5th December 2018 The Fascinating World of Playing Cards by Yasha Beresiner Surprisingly today’s playing cards date back to 1377. Decks from 1475 still survive. The English deck is of French origin and the Company of Makers of Playing Cards was founded in 1628 to protect English makers from French importations. Cards were used as a medium of communication, propaganda or education: the 1678 Titus Oates plot is illustrated on a 52 card deck published at the time and known as The Horrid Popish Plot. Francis Barlow illustrated the cards depicting Marlborough's Victories in 1707. Modern cards follow in these old traditions with some wonderful collectors’ decks of today. History of playing cards 7th November 2018 Gone in a Flash - A history of firework displays from the Renaissance to the age of electricity by Timothy Wilcox   The fireworks that mark great events such as the opening of the Olympics, or even the start of a New Year make an enormous impact. Despite their brevity, the displays live on through film and photography. For centuries, the very fact that the fireworks themselves were seen only for seconds and yet cost large amounts of money provoked a strong desire to record them and a large archive of visual evidence remains. When rulers such as Louis XIV or the Russian Emperors began to see the propaganda value of circulating images designed to impress and amaze, fireworks graduated from popular entertainment to become a sophisticated instrument of statecraft. This lecture takes an exhilarating look at one art form that is never likely to gather dust in a museum. History of fireworks 3rd October 2018 Dutch Painting in the Golden Age by Brian Healey With the breaking away of the Protestant Dutch Republic from the Catholic South, Dutch painting in the 16th century changed to reflect its new aspirations. In place of Catholic, religious painting came a focus on interiors that reflected the wealth, aspirations and interests of their owners and through some remarkable Vanitas paintings reminded them of their own mortality. Banquet and flower painting also served this purpose, with no better representation of transiency than the tulip, the craze for which reached incredible heights in the 1630s. The lecture introduces some seminal works that characterise this most important period. Background to the Dutch Golden Age Visiting the areas portrayed in the Golden Age Visit to Coventry   Tuesday, August 7th 2018 Following our lecture, 'Painting With Light,' and because Coventry is the 2018 City of Culture, we have organised a visit and guided tour to the Cathedral.  There will be time after the tour for lunch and an opportunity to visit other places of interest like St. Mary's Guildhall and the Herbert Art Gallery, both of which are close to the Cathedral. 4th July 2018  (AGM. Please be seated by 10.30am ) The History of the Skyscraper Anthea Streeter The lecture begins in 1880s with the earliest 'tall buildings'; in Chicago and New York. We then look in detail at the distinct stylistic phases of skyscraper design during the 20th century: the Golden Age of 1920s when such iconic skyscrapers as the Chrysler Building in New York were built; the post-war sleek International Style, strongly influenced by modernism from Europe; and the Second Golden Age of the late 1960s and early 1970s which marked the apex of American 20 th century skyscraper design, when advanced technology enabled the Willis Tower in Chicago to be constructed with its record-breaking height of 110 storeys. The story then moves to the countries of Asia Pacific, which have witnessed unprecedented economic growth in the last 30 years. Earthquakes and typhoons are an ever-present threat in the area and, using Taipei 101 in Taiwan as an example, we will examine how engineers deal with these problems. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world at present, but it will be superseded by the super-skyscrapers of over 200 storeys now under construction in China and the Arabian Gulf. The latest manifestation of skyscrapers comes in the form of “skinny” skyscrapers. Skinnies are now being built in New York City and we shall look at how they are beginning to feature prominently on the New York skyline alongside the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, the USA’s tallest building. Background of ‘skinny’ skyscrapers 6th June 2018 Victorian Furniture.  Why Victoria was not amused …. Janusz Karczwski-Slowikowski A suitable sub-title would be ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ as all three are to be found within Victorian furniture! The 19th century saw both the production of some of the finest furniture ever made and the commercialised mass production of ‘cheap’ furniture to meet the demands of a rapidly increasing population. The development and production of Victorian furniture will be examined through exploring what JC Loudon was to describe as the “principal styles”: “the Grecian or modern style…the Gothic or perpendicular style…the Elizabethan style…and the style of the age of Louis 14th, or the florid Italian, which is characterised by curved lines and excess of curvilinear ornament.” Making sense of these and the various other styles of this period will, if nothing else, be fun! . Victoria & Albert Museum web site on Victorian furniture 2nd May 2018 Searching for the woven art and symbolism of the Nomads.  Adventures amongst the nomadic tribes of Iran and Afghanistan. Brian MacDonald My time spent in Iran and Afghanistan during the 1970s, began to foster a passion for the wonderful woven art produced by nomads on basic ground looms. My subsequent visits were spent travelling and searching amongst nomadic tribes for these exquisite 19th century weavings, which have become harder to find and have now virtually disappeared amongst the tribes themselves. This lecture illustrates the woven art of the nomads as they moved over the lands they have travelled for generations. The audience will have the opportunity of seeing their way of life and looking at the 19th century rugs and utilitarian weavings, similar to those which I discovered during my forays into the different tribal territories. The lecture also brings to life some of the unforgettable stories and adventures I experienced whilst looking for them. 4th April 2018 Those Crazy Years; Life &  Art in Paris during the Jazz Age,1920’s - 1930’s Linda Collins After WW1, there was rejoicing in Paris, but there was also an uneasy feeling that once again this peace may not be everlasting. It seems the people of Paris decided to throw caution to the winds and simply enjoy the peace whilst it lasted. We consider the Paris of the time – the eccentric personalities and the visiting American jazz musicians, along with the five major artistic movements of the era. This lecture contains a lot of art history and sets our artists and their work within their time – and within the lively Paris of the Jazz age. Click here for a film about Paris in the 1920’s Background to the period - Années folles Guardian article on the period 7th March 2018 Leonardo da Vinci.  Anatomical form with function. Guy Rooker Leonardo da Vinci was not a physician so why did he study anatomy? He believed that art was based on a scientific understanding of everything depicted and accurate representation depended on him getting under the skin and into the mind of his subjects. He also subscribed to the hypothesis that man was a microcosm of the universe. It followed that if the form and function of man could be explained then the universe would be better understood. This talk explores the way in which Leonardo acquired his knowledge of anatomy from experience through extrapolation to human dissection and ties in with the chronology of his travels and well known artistic achievements. It is illustrated with examples of his anatomical drawings and reflects the extra ordinary accuracy of his findings. Royal collection of De Vinci anatomical drawings 7th February 2018 Painting with Light. A history of stained glass Roger Rosewell This richly illustrated lecture traces the history of stained glass from Anglo Saxon times to the present day. It explains evolving styles and techniques, explores how medieval people responded to the images, the lives of the artists who made the windows and the relationship between stained glass windows and other works of art. 3rd January 2018 The Emperors' Playthings. Gems from the Percival David Collection. Lars Tharp In 2013 I was given unprecedented permission to handle and film ceramics from the Percival David Collection (in the care of the British Museum). From the collection’s many masterpieces I choose pieces for my film, China in Six Easy Pieces (BBC 4). Fetching many millions of pounds on today’s art market, porcelain destined for Chinese emperors from the Song (10th century) to the Qing dynasty (to 1911) are currently among the most expensive Chinese works money can buy. So-called ‘Imperial Taste’ is quite distinct from porcelain made for export to far-off Europe. My talk shows you just how different - and why. I start the journey with a spectacular scroll displaying some the Yongzheng emperor’s (1723-1735) favourite pieces. You will see superb, previously unbroadcast, footage from the Collection. Percival David Collection web site Background to Emperor Youngzhend 6th December 2017 No Ordinary Christmas. An exploration of the depiction of the Nativity in Western Art. Ghislaine Howard No synopsis yet 1st November 2017 From Holbein to Hockney; British Art Since 1500 David Cross In the 16th and 17th centuries the majority of the painters in England, notably Holbein, Lely, van Dyck and Kneller had been trained in Europe. Gradually, an English school emerged, with Hogarth being the first key figure. Reynolds followed in the mid-18th century to establish the Royal Academy and raise the status of artists. Academies enabled painting skills to flourish and artists developed a range of genres beyond portraiture. Bourgeois wealth enabled more artists to thrive and 19C production was immense. A belated involvement with modernity eventually led to less figurative work in which we now compete with the world. Background to Holbein Holbein complete works 4th October 2017 Ships that changed our lives.  Ocean Liner Art James Taylor The vision and genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel underpins this global story of hopes and dreams, disasters and triumphs. This talk features a wide range of ships, including Great Britain and Great Western, Lusitania and Mauretania, Olympic and Titanic, and arguably Britain’s most popular liner the Queen Mary, brought to life through historic and contemporary artworks, including striking Art Deco posters. A selection of interior views of the famous liners are featured. Background on the Queen Mary Wednesday July 5 Hand Grenades like Cartier Clips.  Lee Miller – life and work in fashion Anthony Penrose Two genres shaped the life of Lee Miller, Surrealism and the world of fashion. They informed each other and were both central to the way she saw the world. Her career as a fashion model began with an accidental encounter with Condé Nast, the proprietor of Vogue who put her on his front cover a few weeks before her 20th birthday. She became the model for Lepape, Steichen, Genthe, Man Ray, Hoyningen Heune, Horst, Picasso and Roland Penrose – later to be her husband. She emerged as a fashion photographer in her own right, metamorphosing into a war correspondent and finally a combat photographer before returning to her role as a distinctive and witty photographer for Vogue in the post war years. This presentation shows how Lee Miller’s success on both sides of the camera has left us with enduring images that result from her unique way of seeing. Click here for the Lee Miller web site Farley Farmhouse web site Wednesday June 7 AGM      Joseph Wright of Derby and the Men of Art of the Lunar Society Leslie Primo In an age of discovery where science and industry went hand-in-hand,  18th century England saw not only the flowering of the Industrial Revolution, but also that of the self- made man; who came not from money but from industry. In this lecture I shall, through the paintings of Reynolds and others, explore the lives, achievements, common interests and connections between a unique group of individuals from this period who either attended this club or were associated with it; men such as, James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, Joseph Wright of Derby and others. The industrialists amongst these men would be, in their time, referred to as philosophers practising what we would now call joined-up thinking, eventually we would invent a new name for them - scientists - however, they would call themselves the Lunar Society. Short reading list: Egerton, Judy (Ed), Wright of Derby, (Tate Gallery Publications, 1990) Egerton, Judy, The British Paintings, (National Gallery Company, 2000) Holmes, Richard, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, (Harper Press, 2008) The Lunar Society Exhibition handbook, (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1966) Uglow, Jenny, The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future, (Faber and Faber, 2002) Vaughan, William, British Painting: The Golden Age, (Thames and Hudson, 1999). Click here to see some photographs from the trip to Kelmscott by Michael Bedford.
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