Our 2022-2023 Lecture Programme

Lectures begin at 10.30 a.m. at the Princess Pavilion, normally on the second Friday of the month. Refreshments are available in the Garden Room from 10.00 a.m. Lunches are available post lecture.

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


Bruegel, The Seasons and The World

Gavin Plumley

In 1565, Pieter Bruegel the Elder was commissioned to create a series of paintings for a dining room in Antwerp. The images, charting the course of a year, changed the way we view the world through art. Landscape had previously been a decorative backdrop to dramas both sacred and profane. But in Bruegel's hands the landscape and our interaction with it became the focus. Looking at paintings such as The Return of the Herd, Hunters in the Snow and The Gloomy Day, this lecture explored how Bruegel pioneered a whole new way of thinking about the environment and our individual places within a shifting cosmos.


Curves, Colours & Cool: An Introduction to Mid-Century Modern

Mark Hill

The antiques market has changed dramatically and now pieces that were made during the 1970s can fetch many times more than a piece made in the 1770s. Why has the teak sideboard you threw out become so desirable? Who is this Eames guy? Drawing a blank with Timo Sarpaneva? Who's buying what and what are they doing with it? This practical and inspirational lecture looked at furniture, ceramics, glass, lighting and metalware, identified key designs and designers, and the examined the revolutionary design movements they began.


Next Move: The Game of Chess and The Birth Of Conceptual Art

Rupert Dickens

Chess has been depicted in art from the Middle Ages to Modernity by painters as diverse as Matisse, Singer Sargent and Max Ernst. It has also inspired works of literature by Vladimir Nabokov and film by Ingmar Bergman. But the greatest incidence of chess in art came with the work of Marcel Duchamp who declared that chess was the paradigm of art. This lecture surveyed the fascinating history of chess in art, culminating with the crucial part played by the game in the birth of Conceptual Art through its founding father, Duchamp.


“Fear Not": The Annunciation in Art

Sarah Burles

The story of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel's appearance to the Virgin Mary as told in St Luke's gospel, has inspired some of the most beautiful images in Western Art. These include Simone Martini's altarpiece for Siena Cathedral, now in the Uffizi Gallery and Fra Angelico's frescoes in the monastery of San Marco in Florence. The earliest depiction of the Annunciation is thought to date back to the 2nd century AD. Since then, the narrative has been reimagined by numerous artists including Van Eyck, Botticelli, Dürer and Rossetti. This lecture took us on a journey through a range of different depictions of the Annunciation and explored the ways in which artists have captured this pivotal moment of the Christian story.


An Easy Day For A Lady - The Dress of Early Women Mountaineers 1850-1914

Kate Strasdin

Exploring the little known history of Victorian women mountaineers and the clothes they chose to wear on the mountains of Europe. Unlikely stories of some intrepid explorers abound!


A tale of two Barbaras: Barbara Hepworth and Barbara Tribe

Cath Wallace

In this lecture, we looked at the work of two female sculptors who made Cornwall their home for much of their lives. Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) who was awarded a CBE in 1958 and was made a Dame in 1965. The other was Barbara Tribe (1913-2000). She was a talented Australian figurative sculptor and became a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Sculptors in 1953. She taught at Penzance School of Art from 1948-1988. She returned to Australia on many visits in later life. We looked at the similarities and differences in the work of these two pioneering female artists.


The Sahara as Palimpsest

Eamonn Gearon

The Sahara has inspired the artistic and cultural life of the West for millennia, and this eye-opening presentation allowed us to journey there with no risk of getting lost in a sandstorm. Whether resident, foreign adventurer, or armchair traveller and artist, the deserts of North Africa are a palimpsest upon which poets, painters, filmmakers and other dreamers have been inspired by and drawn to for millennia. The Sahara proved as vital for the oracles of Ancient Greece as it has for the high priests of Hollywood, and North African landscapes have witnessed the creation of both stunning prehistoric rock art and Impressionist canvasses; inspired mythology and faith; and been a muse for every form of creative endeavour. This was a fascinating talk through time and space, war and peace, love and loss, that will never again let you see the Sahara as a blank canvas.


Once upon a time….

Jeni Fraser

When you think of fairy tales, you most likely remember bedtime stories heard as a child; however, Grimm's fairy tales were not intended for children, but rather, adults. The German brothers did not actually write the stories but collected them as part of a rich folkloric tradition passed down from generation to generation. We learnt about some famous, and some lesser known, tales - most of which are (unexpectedly) twisted and gruesome.


Mad Men and Artists: How The Advertising Industry exploited Fine Art

Tony Rawlins

Fine art has provided advertisers and their agencies with a great deal of material to use in their creative campaigns. Tony described some of the processes by which these advertisements have been created and why the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo have been a particularly rich source. From the Renaissance through to the present day fine art continues to provide opportunities to enhance brand imagery with admiration, humour, satire and irony. In an entertaining and informative lecture Tony used a wide range of visuals and video to show examples of the original works, the creative process and the (not always entirely successful) advertisements that are the end result.



Sarah Cove

Constable’s exuberant, almost abstract, brush and palette-knife work shocked audiences a full 50 years before the advent of Impressionism. In fact, the handling is so avant-garde that it is literally impossible to tell what these paint strokes depict!

Most people will be astonished to learn that he only sold 20 or so paintings to English collectors, family and friends during his lifetime, as their rough and ‘specky’ surfaces horrified audiences with their lack of ‘finish’. By contrast, he sold many pictures to forward-looking Parisian art dealers and French collectors. In this way, his radical ‘late’ works influenced generations of French painters, including Gericault, Delacroix, Corot and the Barbizon School, Monet and Pissarro, making Constable one of the Forefathers of Modern Painting.

The RA’s exhibition showcased Constable’s brilliant ‘late’ masterpieces for the first time. Sarah Cove ACR has been working alongside exhibition curator Anne Lyles (ex Tate) for two decades. Her lectures describe the artist’s diverse painting methods illustrated by fabulous, highly-detailed images taken during technical and scientific examination.

Constable’s dynamic ‘late’ works and artistic temperament are brought to life in a new and exciting manner revealing a ‘Jackson Pollock of the 1830s’. You will never look at these ‘chocolate box’ pictures the same way again - guaranteed!!