Our 2012-2013 Lecture Programme

Below is a list of lectures and a brief synopsis of each. You can download a Printable Copy of the lecture programme.


A Thousand Years of History: Medieval Cathedrals as Time Machines

Jon Cannon

This lecture uses the English cathedrals as “time machines” to the medieval period, tracing their story from the birth of English Christianity in about 600AD to the 12th century when Gothic was invented in an atmosphere of febrile change and political tension.

It then follows the story through the cults and traumas of the 14th century and into the dynastic struggles of the late medieval era, which eventually tore apart the very world which had created the cathedrals.

The lecture is illustrated with photos of the buildings and contemporary manuscripts and paintings to help explain how the remarkable events they witnessed shaped their architecture.

Jon Cannon presented the BBC television’s “How to build a Cathedral” and has written publications for English Heritage and British Archaeology magazine.


Ancient Art from Afghanistan: Surviving Treasures from the Crossroads of Asia

Hanne Sutcliffe

The Afghan national treasure was rediscovered in 2002 having survived years of civil war and destruction.

The spectacular gold, silver, ivory, bronze and glass objects bear witness to the significance of the kingdom of Bactria (ancient Afghanistan), which became a melting pot of a wide range of cultural influences from both East and West.

After Alexander the Great’s military campaigns around 300 BC many Greeks and Macedonians settled in Bactria.

The excavated objects found in the area illustrate the distinctive fusion of Greek, Persian and Indian motifs.

Hanne Sutcliffe has lectured extensively in museums, including the British Museum, and has been a guest lecturer on 16 tours to China.


The Two Faces of Russia: Moscow and St Petersburg

Dr Rosamund Bartlett

Some Russian artists identify with the oriental-looking ancient city of Moscow; others with the western-looking, modern metropolis of St Petersburg.

This lecture explored the art and architecture of both these great cities, examining their different characters and ways of life, and looked at how and why they increased and decreased in importance before and after the 1917 Revolution.

Dr Rosamund Bartlett has a doctorate from Oxford and has written many books, including Tolstoy: A Russian Life. Her Chekhov anthology “About Love and Other Stories” was shortlisted for the Weidenfeld Translation Prize.


The History of Stained Glass seen through the Christmas Story

Diana Lloyd

The deep red and blue glass of the Gothic period, particularly famous at Chartres, began the story, progressing through the delight in painted details and use of yellow stain during the 14th century.

The story of Christmas was followed through many different English churches right up to the Renaissance period.

The exquisite painted glass of northern Europe depicting Christ in the manger continued the story during the 16th and early 17th centuries, and moved via the Reynolds window at New College, Oxford (18th century) to the great revival of stained glass during the 19th century.

Pugin, the Gothic revival churches and Morris and Company further illustrated the Christmas story, culminating in some fine examples of 20th century glass by artists such as Chagall.

Diana Lloyd is a freelance lecturer in Ceramic, Glass and the History of Interior Decoration in Europe, North and South America.


Caillebotte: The Unknown Impressionist with the Unpronounceable Name

Margaret Davis

Caillebotte was a key member of the French Impressionist Movement, joining the group in the late 1870s.

As well as organising and financing group exhibitions, he promoted the careers and reputations of individual fellow artists such as Monet, Degas and Cezanne.

This lecture discussed Caillebotte’s relationship to the development of late 19th century avant garde art and sought to address the matter of his relative obscurity in the Impressionist group.

Margaret Davis is a tutor in Art History for organisations such as the WEA and Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education.


Dreamtime to Machine time – A History of Contemporary Aboriginal Art

Rebecca Hossack

This lecture traced the genesis of Aboriginal art, the oldest continuous artistic tradition in the world, including a discussion of the meaning of Dreamtime – the creation of the aboriginal universe, and the system of law which has informed the basis of the painting movement.

It has been revitalised by the use of modern media, bringing some of the greatest art of the 20th century to the world’s attention.

We looked at examples of paintings from different aboriginal countries and learnt how to read the symbols and signs.

Rebecca Hossack studied at Christie’s and won a scholarship to work at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice.

She established the St James’s Sculpture Garden and has her own art gallery in London. She is credited with introducing aboriginal art to the UK.


The Mirror of Reality: Flemish Art from Van Eyck to Brueghel

Clare Ford Wille

This lecture began with a short introduction covering the historical and economic background of the Netherlands at the beginning of the 15th century and a discussion of the kinds of patronage which led to developments in painting during the 150 years which followed.

The works of major painters of religious art, portraiture and landscape were studied, including Rogier van der Weyden, Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Hugo van der Goes and Memling.

The lecture ended with a consideration of new developments in the 16th century in the work of Patinir and Brueghel.

Clare Ford Wille has a degree in History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London.

She has lectured at the Royal Academy, museums including the Victoria and Albert and for many years at the University of London.


Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting

Chloe Sayer

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have iconic status in Mexico.

The Mexican Revolution of 1910 swept away the old regime and banished European influence in the arts.

Kahlo and Rivera, in their different ways, helped to shape the cultural identity of 20th century Mexico.

Rivera’s panoramic images adorn the walls of public buildings, combining social criticism with a faith in human progress.

Kahlo made herself the principal theme of her art.

Her paintings reflect her experiences, dreams, hopes and fears.

Chloe Sayer is a freelance specialist in the art and culture of Latin America. As a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute she has carried out fieldwork, curated several exhibitions and assisted on TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4.


John Opie: The Cornish Wonder

Viv Hendra

John Opie RA was an important 18th century artist, the carpenter’s boy touched by genius, who was buried next to Reynolds in St Paul’s.

Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy, his legacy of paintings can be found across the world from the Louvre to the Hermitage, from Budapest to Philadelphia, the Uffizi to Falmouth.

He is in the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection, in reference books, encyclopedias, lists of important portraits or great artists, of great Cornishmen, even of quotations, yet most people have never heard of him.

Using images of Opie’s paintings, Viv Hendra, owner of the Lander Gallery in Truro, told a story which is improbable, funny, poignant, always entertaining and one in which Falmouth plays its part.


Lost on the Titanic: The Story of the Great Omar Binding

Dominic Riley

When it was completed in 1912, the Great Omar was the most elaborate and opulent binding ever created.

It was embellished with over 1000 jewels, 5000 leather inlays and 100 square feet of gold leaf, and took a team of craftsmen over two and a half years to make. It went down with the Titanic.

This lecture told the story of the Great Omar and the renowned bookbinders Sangorski and Sutcliffe, who were known for their fabulous jewelled bindings.

It also told the story of life after the tragedy, and of one man in particular, who decided against the odds to recreate the binding – a venture which itself is mirrored in tragedy and which occupied him for the rest of his life.

Dominic Riley studied Art History at the University of Leeds and Bookbinding at the London College of Printing.

A professional bookbinder, he has lectured to colleges, art centres and antiquarian book fairs in both the UK and USA. In June 2013 Dominic was awarded first prize in the Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize 2013 the competition received 285 entries from 31 countries. The Bodleian library acquired this binding for collection.