Below is a list of lectures and a brief synopsis of each. You can download a Printable Copy of the lecture programme.
Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival. Many of the pagan habits were therefore absorbed into our Christmas traditions. Present-giving, holly and even party-hats all have their origins in this 2000-year-old party.
This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we unwrap the images and stories behind our festive season.
Jazz is one of music’s most important genres: a fascinating blend of rigorous structure, free-wheeling creativity, close-knit ensembles and imaginative improvisation. Drawing on his experience both as musicologist and gigging musician, Sandy can shed light on jazz from the inside.
His talk covers the early years of jazz up to the Second World War, and touches on the disparate influences which lay behind the emergence of jazz. Musical illustrations range from the blues, ragtime and the very first jazz recordings through to classics by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the dawn of the Swing Era.
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 at 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.
Mondrian is forever known in history as the artist who created the extremely recognisable elementary colour field paintings. He started creating these kind of paintings around 1920. What many do not realise is that by then he already had 30 years of being a figurative artist under his belt. This lecture follows this evolution, his self discovery, and his belief in a new world order.
Mariska Beekenkamp-Wladimiroff charts Mondrian’s evolution from figurative art to elemental colour field paintings.
This illustrated lecture examines the different cultures present in these islands before the Norman conquest - Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking - and traces their interaction across the various artistic media, setting them within the historical context. Stunning metalwork, such as the Sutton Hoo and Staffordshire Hoard, the Ardagh Chalice and Tara brooch, magnificent manuscripts such as the books of Durrow and Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels, and sculptures such as the Ruthwell Cross and the enigmatic Pictish carvings, are amongst the masterpieces considered.
Michelle Brown examines the different cultures in these islands before the Norman conquest, looking at their interaction and art work.
Speed! Technology! Destruction! The battle cry of the Futurists. WWI heralded the appearance of the car as a powerful symbol in avant-garde art. Soon the Art Deco masterpieces of the great car builders came to epitomise style, luxury and craftmanship, works of art in their own right. The romance of speed continued to be a major theme in how cars were depicted in art, but, since the 1950s the car has become art, used as a canvas for artists as celebrated as Peter Blake, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
This lecture will showcase the beautiful and the bizarre, celebrating the dynamic, creative, and sometimes unsettling relationship between cars and art.
What do we mean by jewellery? What does it mean to different societies across time and across the world? This lecture takes a number of themes in order to expand the concept of jewellery and examine the different reasons why people wear it.
Everyone decorates the body, but there are different notions of how to do so and which parts to decorate. In many societies jewellery serves as vital protection against evil spirits. It can be a powerful vehicle of communication, indicating the wearer’s preoccupations, their religion or ethnic group. It can be a keepsake of a loved one, or a memorial to the dead. And it can also be a work of art in its own right harnessing all the skills of the goldsmith, gem-setter, or enameller.
Based on the collections of the British Museum, where the speaker has worked for 40 years, this new thought-provoking lecture reveals how jewellery has been worn and used, and takes us from ancient burial ornaments by anonymous masters to the big names of the modern world.
Fake News has been around since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs and art has always been one of its favourite media.
In this talk we uncovered the subtle art of spin and propaganda in art from the glories of Ancient Mesopotamia to the Norman Conquest and then onto Elizabethan England and the dark days of Nazi Germany.
Both these empowering and successful films have been made into musicals. Dance with its soaring language of the human spirit can be seen against the harsh world of strikes and unemployment in the industrial north. These invigorating stories chart how boys and men can, against the odds, buy a ticket to a new life.
In the lecture we will look at selected film clips and the photography of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen who was the inspiration to the screen writer of Billy Elliot, Lee Hall. The themes of humour, masculinity, identity, family and community were at the centre of our analysis.
The only daughter of well-off parents, Beatrix Potter’s childhood was spent in almost complete seclusion in West London. The ordered formality of the household made no concessions to the demands of children, so Beatrix and her brother Bertram created their own absorbing creative world upstairs in the nursery and schoolroom.
Inspired by summers spent in Scotland and the Lake District, she became a passionate amateur naturalist, drawing, painting, dissecting and examining whatever flora and fauna she and Bertram could smuggle back into the London house. By the time she was a young adult, still living at home, unmarried and still very much under the jurisdiction of her parents, her watercolour paintings of botanical and zoological subjects were meticulous, detailed and accomplished. She could undoubtedly have become a professional botanist – indeed a paper of hers on the spores of Fungi was read out at the Linnaean Society of London in 1897, but because she was a woman her theories were dismissed.
It was with the creation of Peter Rabbit that Beatrix Potter’s private world became the key to her future independence; and those unique and exquisitely illustrated little books have ensured her place among the Immortals of children’s literature.