Previous Lectures We will be archiving the lectures as we go through the year, so you can look back on lectures, perhaps look at some of the links associated with them. 11th January 2024 Paul Roberts Last Supper in Pompeii. For the Romans, life meant getting together to eat and drink, in a pub, in a simple flat or at a banquet in a triclinium or grand dining room. Last supper in Pompeii celebrates the Roman love affair with food and wine, in a journey from fields and vineyards to markets and shops, from tables to toilets and the tomb. We visit the fertile vine-filled slopes of Vesuvius, then going into the bustling city, past shops and bars, we enter the home, with its grand reception rooms, and lovely garden filled with flowers and fountains. We recline in the dining room, with exotic food and fine wine, surrounded by Greek-style luxury; beautiful silver, mosaics and frescoes. But don’t go in the kitchen! No fridge, no running water, no hygiene (and an open cess pit next to the cooker!). Lastly we look at how Roman ideas and customs on food caught on in Roman Britain. Along with Roman gods of fertility and wine come exotic imports like pepper, figs and finest fish sauce. We witness the birth of the British beer industry and even see the British dead, feasting into the afterlife, like all good Romans. Seize the day - Carpe diem!! Come and celebrate the Roman love of food & wine (For some of us things never change!!) with Paul the Head of the Dept of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology. 14th December 2023 Peter Ross The Curious History of Christmas Food The 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. 9th November 2023 Nigel Bates They make no noise. What is it that conductors do that makes orchestras respond in so many different ways? Is it a good baton technique? A strong personality? The way they look? And why are there relatively few women found on the podium? And why are the conductors paid so much more than anyone else on the concert platform? Drawing on history and his own musical experiences from well over six thousand performances and recordings, Nigel seeks out some answers. This lecture contains some rare video footage of conductors in rehearsal and performance. Essentials in Conducting. Karl Wilson Gehrkens Public domain 12th October 2023 Caroline Bendix The Conservation of National Trust Libraries The National Trust’s collection of some 600,000 books in 170 locations is cared for by property staff, volunteers and freelance conservators, working together to maintain the libraries in good working condition. Managing the environment, tracking down pests, creating conservation techniques that are discreet, and stabilising the collections for use are the main elements. Conservation evolves as the books’ use evolves, e.g. the catalogue is now available on-line and more researchers require access. The increased wish to use the books for visitor engagement projects provides further challenges. Given that most of the books have not been restored, the collection provides a physical history of the book trade and of the interaction between books and their owners/readers that is difficult to match elsewhere, so the conservation of books as objects is as important as preserving their texts. 14th September 2023 Gavin Plumley Bruegel - The Seasons & The World 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 explores how Bruegel pioneered a whole new way of thinking about the environment and our individual places within a shifting cosmos. 8th June 2023 Barbara Askew Happy & Glorious: The 70th Anniversaries of the Accession & Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth 11 2022 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. May 11 2023 Annalie Talent Great & Small: Writers, Their Pets & Other Animals He 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. Byron’s dog 13 April 2023 Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe on Copies, Curtains and Ways of Looking at Paintings How does our experience of living with and looking at works of art today compare to the viewing experience of earlier centuries? You may never have given a thought to how you enjoy a painting, or what it is that you value in it, let alone wonder whether that enjoyment was different in the past. This lecture will consider the very different conditions in which paintings were displayed and enjoyed in earlier centuries, as well as the very different responses that they evoked. It draws on the evidence in paintings themselves for the many surprising ways in which people handled, hung, used or responded to the art that they owned. From concealing their paintings with a small curtain, to the lighting by candle or window, and the grouping of copies together with originals, this talk will present some of the more unexpected ways that people responded to a picture. 9th March 2023 Mark Hill (from the Antiques’ Road Show) “Hot Stuff! The Birth of Studio Glass” Studio Glass is the manufacturing system that dates from 1962 when techniques were developed for small individual studios to create their own items instead of needing factories to do this. Mark says that Studio Glass is his collecting passion, and he will explain all of this with illustrated examples. 9th February 2023 Janusck Karczewski-Slowikowski Are you sitting Comfortably? - The History of the Chair A 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. 12th January 2023 Jacky Klein A Picture a Day – Peggy Guggenheim. The Birth of Mid Century Modernism This 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? 8th December 2022 Graham Jones A Very Ceremonial Christmas Find 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. This followed our traditional mince pie and a glass of wine or juice for each member, and was a superlative, but light- hearted, lecture about the various ceremonial events that take place around Christmas time. Carol Cervices, Concerts Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor, the Chelsea Pensioners and many others. He used multiple video clips and had a genuine mastery of the PowerPoint System. 10th November 2022 Mariska Beekenkamp—Wladimiroff Women in the Dutch Republic Independent, 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. October lecture - last minute change to programme Dancing in Valentia: The surpassing elegance of Santiago Calatrava, Starchitect. “Starchitect” is a portmanteau word used to describe architects whose celebrity and critical acclaim have transformed them into idols of the architecture world and may even have given them some degree of fame among the general public! Starchitects twinkle in constellation as they rebuild the universe. Santiago Calatrava (b.1951) has designed in every continent. His admirers claim that he has fused art, design, architecture, sculpture, and engineering. His airports, bridges, shopping malls, palaces of art and culture, his railway stations too, lift the heart with excited pleasure. His practice is in Switzerland, but he began in Valencia which he has transformed with a bridge, an opera house, and museums. And there is a footbridge by him in Salford. 8th September 2022 Peter Ross Shakespeare’s First Folio 1623 How 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. 9th June 2022 John Benjamin At the Sign of the Falcon:The Life & Works of Harry Murphy Goldsmith, Silversmith & Unique Englishman H 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. 12th May 2022 Rupert Dickens Through a Glass Darkly - Vermeer & The Camera Obscura The 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. 14th April 2022 Ian Swankie Pots & Frocks - "The World of Grayson Perry - from Essex Punk Potter to Superstar National Treasure” Best known for his outlandish appearances dressed as his feminine alter ego, Claire, Grayson Perry is now a core part of the art establishment, a Turner Prize winner, Royal Academician, popular broadcaster and colourful character. He’s possibly one of the world’s best-known contemporary artists. His works of ceramics, textiles, tapestries and prints are highly sought after. Often controversial, he tackles difficult subjects in a poignant yet witty way and holds a mirror up to society. This talk will examine Grayson Perry’s work, his exciting and thought-provoking exhibitions, and the unique character inside the flamboyant frocks. 10th March 2022 7.30pm James Wright Busting Medieval Myths I thought that I ought to give you some advance notice that the Speaker for our March Lecture has changed from Annelie Talent to James Wright because Annelie cannot come to us for family reasons. Annelie has been rebooked for May 2023. James Wright is coming to us again from Nottingham at short notice. Many of you will remember the lecture he gave us under similar circumstances in June 2019: “The story of the masons, carpenters, cooks, clerks, servants, stable-hands and lower status visitors to great castles.” This was incredibly interesting and well received; we later rated it as Outstanding. In his Busting Medieval Building Myths, James will look at some ten common myths about medieval buildings and discuss how they arose, and give us the correct answers, insofar as they are known. 10th February 2022 Christopher Newlands Lancaster Priory: 2,000 Years of History in Stone, Wood and Glass The 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'. 13th January 2022 Linda Smith Great Tarts in Art A 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.
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