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. Thursday 12th September 2019 Dominic Riley A Kelmscott Chaucer of our Times William Morris founded his Kelmscott Press in 1890 in order to save the fine art of hand printing in Britain. When in 1896 his last book, the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, was published, it was universally hailed as the greatest book of the age. It is a huge book, with illustrations by Burne Jones and decorations by Morris, and was printed at the press in Hammersmith over a four year period. Fewer than 400 copies were produced. In 2012 Dominic was presented with a copy in a poor binding, with a view to creating a contemporary artistic binding for it. This lecture is the record that process. He will give an overview of Morris and the Kelmscott Press, and then talk about his very demanding commission — from the early designs to the completion of the project four years later. Background to the book Thursday 13th June 2019 James Wright English Mediaeval Castles & Great Houses : The non elite response to elite buildings. This lecture offers a little-regarded alternative viewpoint of life in English mediaeval castles:that of the ordinary folk. Using archaeological evidence gleaned from historic building survey, contemporary literature, artistic representations, graffiti and architectural history this talk presents the story of the masons, carpenters, cooks, clerks, servants, stable-hands and lower status visitors to great castles. Instead of studying towers, gatehouses and great halls here we delve into the kitchens, stables, staircases, cellars and garderobes to uncover evidence of the non-elite response to elite buildings. James Wright FSA is an archaeologist and historian based at the University of Nottingham. With over twenty years of professional experience, he has published two books and a string of popular and academic articles concentrating on the British Mediaeval and Early Modern periods. He is a very proficient public speaker and has spoken to a wide variety of organisations including Historic Royal Palaces, the National Trust, Lowdham Book Festival, the Fortean Society, Gresham College, Shakespeare400 and the Museum of London. Thursday 9th May 2019 John Ericson The Story of Beatrix Potter Not only is she one of our best loved children’s authors and illustrators but Beatrix Potter was a respected naturalist, an entrepreneur, an astute business woman, a farmer and a breeder of prize winning sheep as well as a conservationist whose early support fostered the foundations of our much respected National Trust. In addition to her art and stories for children, we will explore her personal life, first beset by the tragedy of losing her first fiancée Norman Warne but ending in fulfilment with her husband of thirty years, William Heelis. So, if you enjoy a good story, and who does not? - then share with me the extraordinary and fascinating tale of Beatrix Potter. Thursday 30th May 2019 – DAY TIME MEETING Nicholas Henderson ‘How to Read’ The English Church How to read the architectural and liturgical features that have shaped the building through the ages to the present day. Part one: The pre-Christian to the Tudors It is possible to ‘read’ the passage of time, of movements, cultures and peoples in the architecture and art forms evident in many of our older English country churches. This lecture takes us from the pre-Christian era, through the arrival of the Romans and onwards to the sixteenth century and the epoch changing Tudors Simple indicators are given how to identify churches with Roman and Saxon origins. The great flowering of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that followed the invasion of the Normans in the eleventh century are explained with illustrated examples. Onwards into the high Middle Ages and the tumultuous changes of the Reformation we can see the architectural and structural evidence of a period of great change. Part two: The Tudors to the present This second part takes us on from the Tudor era into the establishment of a new Protestant England visible in church structures. Later the profound destructive changes of the seventeenth century Commonwealth era are followed by restoration and liturgical change. The largely forgotten Georgian period of church architecture is examined as church architecture that the Victorians forgot. In turn the great period of church building and Gothic revival of the Victorian era and the associated innovations of the Oxford and Cambridge movements are examined in detail. Finally, there is a brief look at contemporary changes that have influenced and altered church buildings as the English country church continues to reflect the passing of the ages. Thursday 11th April 2019 Magdalen Evans William Simmonds and the English Puppet Theatre Simmonds was an old-fashioned Cotswolds craftsman, who achieved a stellar reputation by the time he died in 1968.  Much in demand, his ambitious puppet shows were put on for grown-ups as well as children. He could carve a calibrated figure one-sixth-life-size so convincingly that, when controlled by an expert puppeteer, reviewers thought his creatures had a life of their own. Winston Churchill was one of many who admired a performance put on by the 2nd Duke of Westminster at his country house, Eaton Hall in Cheshire. Trained at the Royal Academy and emerging from the Arts&Crafts movement in Gloucestershire, Simmonds moved on from traditional painting to designing aircraft for De Haviland during the First World War. Background to William Simmonds and his wife. Thursday 14th March 2019 Adam Busiakiewicz Sir Joshua Reynolds - Destroyer of Pictures?  Techniques & Conservation Eighteenth century Britain was an age of romanticised elegance captured politely in paint.  In contrast, Sir Joshua Reynolds pushed the boundaries of composition and materials through endless experimentation. His constant attempts to replicate the painting techniques of the Old Masters resulted in some of the triumphs of Georgian British Art. Whilst much of his work survives, his experimentation with oils, waxes, pigments and other ingredients of painting alchemy, many are in poor condition and pose conservation conundrums. In addition to Reynolds's development as a painter, this lecture will discuss the various scientific methods undertaken to revive, and in some cases resurrect, his valuable and important paintings. A rare and curious example of Joshua Reynolds reusing a rather elaborate costume for two different sitters Thursday 14th February 2019 Alan Read ‘Very Bad for Art’ ? The impact of the Great War on 3 Artists Augustus John turned to Bomberg and said “David, this news of the outbreak of war is going to be very bad for art.” This lecture considers the truth of that prophesy among three British artists who had first-hand experience of the Great War and whose work was profoundly affected by it. David Bomberg (1890-1957) By his mid-twenties he had achieved notable success and was being hailed as a major talent in avant garde circles.  The rejection of a Canadian War Commission was a significant disappointment and it is true to say that his career never fully recovered. Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946)  He is generally regarded as the only British artist who wholeheartedly adopted the tenets of Futurism, a movement that set out to glorify war.  However, faced with its reality his work took a completely new direction but not before he had produced some of the War’s most powerful images. William Orpen  (1878-1931) One of the most financially successful artists in the pre-War period, Orpen used his society contacts to gain privileged access to military leaders yet developed a deep admiration for the regular soldier.  His unorthodox approach to official commissions led him to produce some of his most compelling works.   Alan Read A Group of Soldiers (1917© IWM (Art.IWM ART 1097) Thursday 13th December 2018 (Includes Drinks & Mince Pies) Ian Keable George Cruikshank - The man who drew Oliver Twist George Cruikshank is now best known for his brilliant drawings for Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist.  But this is to do his prodigious skills and work output a disservice. Cruikshank moved effortlessly from biting satirical prints in the Georgian era through to producing engravings for numerous books and journals in Victorian times. Adapting his talents both to new printing technology and the new demands of the reading public, he is considered by many to be the greatest illustrator of the 19th century. His personal reputation hasn't survived quite so well, partly through his obsession with temperance in later life and the fact that when he died, aged 85, it was discovered he had fathered eleven illegitimate children with his mistress. Thursday 8th November 2018 Simon Inglis Great Lengths-On the Art & Architecture of swimming pools & lidos Swimming is Britain’s second favourite form of physical recreation (after walking). Almost everyone has memories of visiting their local baths. But whilst not all these memories might be positive – drooping knitted cozzies anyone? – for many swimmers the baths themselves are cherished. Some, particular those built in the late Victorian and Edwardian years, are rich with decorative tilework, stained glass, polished wood and terracotta detailing. This sense of municipal pride continued into the 1920s and ’30s, when Art Deco and Modernist lidos became the urban beaches of their day. In this lecture, Simon highlights the treasures of aquatic art that survive, and considers how the pools of today compare.
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