Programme for 2021 All lecture details are subject to change, please keep checking back with the web site. October 14th 2021 7:30 at our normal venueRoger Butler Canal History & Heritage This lecture provides a colourful introduction to the secret world of our 2000-mile inland waterway network and looks at all aspects of their exceptional artistic, architectural and engineering vernacular with special reference to our local canals. He will range from sweeping aqueducts to tiny bollards; from colourful historic narrowboats to 'Roses and Castles' artwork; from grand World Heritage Sites to quirky listed buildings. A well-known architectural historian once described our canals as a 'poor man's art gallery'.Canal Art Traditional decorated canalware at the Boat Gathering, Guildford 2009.Photo copyright: Colin Smith / Canal Art / November 11th 2021 7:30Chantal Brotherton-RatcliffeHistorical Painting Materials & Techniques 15th - 18th CenturiesThe 14th century artist Cennino Cennini recommended using “the chicken bones that you will find under the dining table” for making charcoaled bone black to paint with. His treatise, The Artists’ handbook, gives us an understanding of some of the surprising materials which any artist had to master before he could begin to paint, such as the tail of a squirrel to make his paintbrushes. But many of these materials were difficult to use and have an effect on the finished look of paintings from the centuries before industrial processes changed the artist’s world. This lecture will explain the techniques and the reasons for some of the features of 15th and 16th century paintings which may seem odd to our modern eyes. December 9th 2021 7:30Roger AskewA Right Royal Christmas: How our Royal Families have celebrated Christmas through the ages.Our royal families have celebrated Christmas throughout their long history, from William the Conqueror making sure of his claim to the English throne by being crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Feasting on a spectacular scale characterised medieval Christmases – we read of extraordinary culinary delicacies served to Henry II, crane’s flesh, peacocks and herons. Present-giving always marked the season, from the extravagant – the City of London presented Richard II with a camel and a pelican – to the witty – Mrs. Thatcher sent the Queen a pair of yellow washing-up gloves having seen Her Majesty doing the dishes without any. The Royal Christmas Broadcast is now an established part of our celebrations and we shall hear extracts from George V’s, George VI’s and our present Queen’s addresses.The King at the microphone, Christmas 1934. cc Andy Dingley 202213th January 2022Linda SmithGreat Tarts in ArtA mixture of art-historical analysis and scandalous anecdote, this lecture takes a generally light-hearted look at changing attitudes to sexual morality down the ages, by examining the portraits and careers of some of history’s most notorious mistresses and courtesans. It also charts the rather complex and ambiguous attitudes of art and society towards the numerous anonymous working girls at the lower end of the scale, by investigating how they have been represented in art at different times and places from the 17th to the 20th century.10th February 2022Christopher Newlands Lancaster Priory: 2,000 Years of History in Stone, Wood and GlassThe mother-church of the City and County of Lancaster, this site of this ancient Priory Church reveals elements of the Roman fort on the site, a Celtic burial site, a Saxon church, a Benedictine Monastery, and a historic parish church. Its history tells the story of this city covering wars, plagues, and the Kings and Queens of England who have held the title 'Duke of Lancaster'.10th March 2022Annalie Talent Great & Small: Writers, Their Pets & Other AnimalsHe prayeth best, who loveth best/All things both great and small… Samuel Taylor Coleridge From Robert Burns’s mouse to Shelley’s skylark; from Wordsworth’s butterfly to Keats’s nightingale; throughout the Romantic period, animals often inspired great writing. This lecture focuses on the creatures that have been loved, lost and immortalised by some of our greatest writers.We begin in the 18th century, with Gilbert White recording in minute detail the behaviour of his pet tortoise, Timothy. We then turn to the Romantics - including Byron, who wrote more movingly about his love for a dog than he did for any woman. We end by taking a look at some Victorian writers’ pets, and discover how these animals inspired their owners – and other authors. Along the way, we explore why writing about animals increases during the Romantic and Victorian periods, and what this tells us about changing attitudes towards them during this time. 14th April 2022Neil Faulkner Dickens, Lawrence & Zhivago. David Lean’s Art of CinemaCinematic images are modern art forms. In the ‘golden age’ of cinema – before the development of CGI technology – film-makers had to construct sets to represent landscapes, townscapes, and interiors. Sometimes they used paintings and photographs, sometimes they built scale models, sometimes they constructed full-size replicas. In each case, they created an art installation they then captured in celluloid images.Drawing on new insights from the archaeology of cinema, this lecture will use the films of renowned British director David Lean to explore the art of cinema. How do the ‘artists’ – in this case formed of large collaborative teams (directors, screenwriters, production designers, costume designers, camera crews, fixers, etc) – choose locations, construct sets, dress actors, and, more generally, ‘imagine’ the world they seek to represent? How much is authentic, and how much preconception and prejudice? What are the influences on the way the cinema depicts the world?12th May 2022Rupert Dickens Through a Glass Darkly-Vermeer & The Camera ObscuraThe tranquil and meditative paintings of Johannes Vermeer are among the best-loved artworks in the world. Relatively little is known about the master from Delft but that has not deterred a torrent of publications about him, both fictional and scholarly. One of the most hotly debated topics in Vermeer literature is his supposed use of the camera obscura. We will tackle this controversy head on by investigating the history of optical devices in art and examining the latest theories on Vermeer’s technique. It will be a great opportunity to look at Vermeer’s beguiling body of work afresh through a different lens.9th June 2022John Benjamin At the Sign of the Falcon:The Life & Works of Harry Murphy Goldsmith, Silversmith & Unique EnglishmanH G Murphy’s greatest misfortune was to die just before the start of the Second World War. The designs and inspirations of the pre-war era were simply seen as passé and totally out of keeping with the new spirit of modernism which quickly grew after the Festival of Britain in 1951. Harry Murphy served his apprenticeship under Henry Wilson, probably Britain’s greatest designer goldsmith of the Arts and Crafts era. Here he learnt a wide range of skills and techniques including enamelling, gem-setting and polishing, niello, engraving and hammering. From 1928 until his death in 1939 he worked from retail premises in Marylebone, London, known as the Falcon Studio where he designed and created a prodigious amount of silverware for the corporate, civic and private sectors as well as some truly startling gold, silver and enamel jewellery inspired by nature, architecture, the Ballet Russes and the vibrancy of the Jazz Age. 8th September 2022Peter Ross Shakespeare’s First Folio 1623How was one of the most important books in the English Language created by Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors seven years after his death? How was the book put together, what was missing and without it would we have truly have lost eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays? This lecture looks at the creation of the book, its structure and design, the people involved in the extraordinary project and the subsequent history of some of the copies and their distribution across the world.13th October 2022Giles Ramsay Terence Rattigan – Passion RestrainedOne of the highest paid and most successful writers of his day, Terence Rattigan (along with Noel Coward), was to fall out of favour in the 1950's with the rise of the Angry Young Men. This lecture examines the stark contrast between pre and post-war British theatre and how we, in the C21st, can now reassess which playwrights really stood the test of time.10th November 2022Mariska Beekenkamp—Wladimiroff Women in the Dutch RepublicIndependent, vocal and brave, the Dutch women were different enough for various 17th century visitors to Holland to note in their diaries and letters that they had never seen anything like it! What set them apart and why, this one hour lecture will illustrate the pragmatic Dutch and their strong women.8th December 2022Graham Jones A Very Ceremonial ChristmasFind out, in this very light-hearted lecture, about the various ceremonial events that take place around Christmas time. Carol services, concerts and even Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor all play their part. How do the Chelsea Pensioners prepare and celebrate the festive season? All will be revealed so, come along and feel wrapped in a blanket of Christmas loveliness.202312th January 2023Jacky Klein A Picture a Day – Peggy Guggenheim. The Birth of Mid Century ModernismThis is the story of how the socialite and muse Peggy Guggenheim became one of the greatest collectors in the history of modern art. Friends with the leading cultural figures of her day – including Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, Barbara Hepworth, Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Djuna Barnes and Igor Stravinsky – she was photographed by Man Ray and Andre Kertesz, took advice from Marcel Duchamp and married – among others – the artist Max Ernst. She moved with ease between the social elites of New York and the bohemia of Paris. This talk asks why it was that – seemingly out of the blue – Guggenheim started collecting contemporary art in the 1930s? What impact did her subsequent galleries in London and New York have on artists and the wider art world? How and why did her name become inextricably linked with the city of Venice? And how did a New York heiress play such a pivotal role in the making of mid-century Modernism? 9th February 2023Janusck Karczewski-Slowikowski Are you sitting Comfortably? - The History of the ChairA lecture on the development of the chair in terms of its construction and style from ancient times through to the 19th century and also its use as a symbol of power and authority in courtly ritual. 8th June 2023Barbara Askew Happy & Glorious: The 70th Anniversaries of the Accession & Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth 112022 is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and 2023 marks the 70th Anniversary of her Coronation, events which are unique in the history of our nation.This lecture celebrates these events and looks at the evolution of the coronation ceremony from Saxon times to that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It examines the different stages of the ceremony from the Recognition through to the Homage and explains the significance of the different items of the Coronation Regalia.Finally, the lecture gives an account of the ill omens and memorable mishaps which have occurred at coronations throughout the centuries and ends with the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, the first to be genuinely witnessed by the people through the medium of television.14th December 2023Peter Ross The Curious History of Christmas FoodThe foods we eat at Christmas have a long, curious and visually spectacular history. This lecture narrates and illustrates that history from Medieval boar’s head and brawn, by way of highly decorated seventeenth century mince pies to the almost forgotten Twelfth Night Cake. Medieval illuminated manuscripts, paintings and prints from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, and illustrations from cookery books provide us with images of some of the lost glories of the British Christmas feast.
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