Our 2018-2019 Discovery Days


The Art and Architecture of Ireland

Tom Duncan

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.00 a.m. - 13.30 p.m.


Ireland has had a long and troubled history, a history inevitably linked to that of England. But it is a history marked with many artistically fruitful side effects. Indeed, influences from a wider European world were often of equal or greater importance. This is especially true of the Early Christian period when Christianity was introduced into Ireland. The study day will begin with an examination of this world, a world which produced the greatest religious works of art in manuscripts such as The Book of Kells and the metalwork such as The Ardagh Chalice.

The later Middle Ages saw England's direct involvement in Ireland, and the effect of this relationship will be examined as more sophisticated buildings were introduced by the Normans from the late twelfth century onwards. Walled towns, strong castles and churches built in the Gothic style bear ample testament to the vigour of their earlier attempts at conquest and settlement. That this settlement did not fully succeed explains the at times low place of the arts amongst both native Celtic and invading Norman elites. Subsequent attempts by the Tudor and Sturat dynasties to bring Ireland to heel meant that the settled conditions necessary for the creation of fine architecture and the patronage painters and decorative artists did not prevail. Thus, there is no renaissance or baroque to be found in the Emerald Isle!

By the end of the seventeenth century with the final defeat of the old "Catholic" Ireland and the emergence of the new "Protestant and Ascendancy" Ireland, conditions changed. With peace came prosperity and so too did the desire to improve the quality of the buildings and to decorate and furnish them in the most up-to-date contemporary English and European fashions. In fact, the land-owning classes of whatever religious or political background spent on a lavish scale during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is this roistering, devil-may-care world which forms the main focus of the day. A number of important houses will be analysed in considerable detail.

To complement this day of special interest, a five night tour of the castles and gardens of Northern Ireland is planned for late june 2019.

Venue: The Best Western Hotel, Blundells Rd, Tiverton. EX16 4DB.

Organised by: The Arts Society South West Area

Cost: £38. Coffee on arrival, and a two course lunch with coffee


Venice – From Canaletto to Monet

Jennifer Toynbee-Holmes

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.00 a.m. - 13.30 p.m.


Jennifer Toynbee-Holmes takes us from the festive works of Canaletto and Guardi, to the responses of, among others, Turner, Manet and Signac to this beautiful city.

Registration from 9.30am.

10.30 -11.30am Lecture One

This lecture looked at the festive works of Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, the last great 18th. Century painters of views, whose work shaped the image of Venice in the minds of Northern Europeans long after the city’s demise. Also, William Turner who visited Venice in the early 19th. Century after being inspired by the writings of the poet Byron in ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ published in 1818.

11.30 -12.00 Coffee and cake

12.00-1.00 p.m. Lecture Two

This covered the importance of Venice by the progressive 19th. Century artists: Edouard Manet, James McNiell Whistler and John Singer Sargent.

1.00 p.m. -2.00 p.m. Lunch

2.00-3.00 p.m. Lecture Three

The final lecture spaned the works of Anders Zorn, Pietro Fragiacomo, Walter Sickert, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac and culminates in the work of Claude Monet; all of whom visited Venice at the turn of the 20th. Century and when Impressionism was giving way to Post Impressionist, paving the way to Modern Art.

3.00-3.15 p.m. Questions

3.30 p.m. End of day

Venue: National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Organised by: The Arts Society Falmouth

Cost: £36 to include lunch and mid morning coffee


Visions of Enchanted Lands - Chinoiserie in European Art & Design.

Anne Haworth

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.00 a.m. - 13.30 p.m.


For centuries, China was a country closed to Europeans but with a rich artistic tradition, inspired by the natural world and Chinese beliefs in the mountains of the immortals. Chinoiserie was a whimsical and fanciful European response to the exotic designs on Chinese porcelain, wallpaper and furniture combined with a flavour of Japan and India. It influenced European decorative arts, architecture and garden design from the 17th to the 18th centuries.

This day of special interest looks at chinoiseries origin in Chinese myths, legends, fairytales and mountain lore and explores the ways in which these real and imaginary worlds merged and were reproduced on Chinese wallpaper, silks and porcelain for export to the West. The European reaction to this is considered, first during the earliest chinoiseries of the Baroque, later with the lightness of Rococo. Some famous examples of chinoiserie are the porcelains of Meissen, Bow and Worcester, japanned cabinets, the furniture in the Chippendale style, the interiors of Claydon House and Saltram House, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, the pagoda at Kew and the tea-house at Potsdam.

Anne Haworth is a lecturer at the V&A, a guide for tours of the State Rooms and Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

She has catalogued the collection of Chinese porcelain at Kensington Palace and is a member of the French Porcelain Society. For fouteen years she was the senior ceramics specialist at Christie's and Bonhams head offices

Venue: Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre

Organised by: The Arts Society South West Area

Cost: £38. Coffee on arrival, and a two course lunch with coffee