Our 2023-2024 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.

Future Lectures

Lecture Image

14
June
2024

THE POWER OF JEWELLERY. ADORNMENT AND RITUAL FROM PRE-HISTORY TO PRESENT

Judy Rudoe

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.


Previous Lectures this year

8
September
2023

FICTION, FALLACY, FAKE NEWS AND SPIN. PROPAGANDA IN ART THROUGHOUT THE AGES

Geri Parlby

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.


13
October
2023

DANCING AND STRIPPING YOUR WAY TO A NEW LIFE: THE FULL MONTY AND BILLY ELLIOT

John Francis

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.


10
November
2023

TOWN MOUSE, COUNTRY MOUSE. NATURE IN THE LIFE AND WORKS OF BEATRIX POTTER

Elizabeth Merry

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.


8
December
2023

'IO SATURNALIA' - HAPPY CHRISTMAS THE ROMAN WAY

Gillian Hovell

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 revealed in artwork that is ancient and modern as we unwrap the images and stories behind our festive season.


12
January
2024

THE AGE OF JAZZ

Sandy Burnett

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 covered the early years of jazz up to the Second World War, and touched on the disparate influences which lay behind the emergence of jazz. Musical illustrations ranged 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.


9
February
2024

MAKING SENSE OF PORTRAITS IN COUNTRY HOUSES

Amy Lim

Country houses are often full of historic portraits, but for today’s visitor it is not always clear who the sitters are, why they are there, or why they mattered.

Visitors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, would have been immediately known how to ‘read’ the portraits and understand their visual cues.

Focusing on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century portraits, this lecture looked closely at clothes, poses and accessories, and learn how to decode them. Through this, we can understand the how they were used to communicate status, networks and identities.


8
March
2024

MONDRIAN'S EVOLUTION INTO ABSTRACTION

Mariska Beekenkamp-Wladimiroff

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 followed this evolution, his self discovery, and his belief in a new world order.

Mariska Beekenkamp-Wladimiroff charted Mondrian’s evolution from figurative art to elemental colour field paintings.


12
April
2024

ART OF THE ISLANDS. AN INTRODUCTION TO EARLY MEDIEVAL ART IN BRITAIN 550-850 AD

Michelle Brown

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.


10
May
2024

THE CAR IN ART. THE CAR AS ART

Julian Richards

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 showcased the beautiful and the bizarre, celebrating the dynamic, creative, and sometimes unsettling relationship between cars and art.