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Newsletter - August 2015



Welcome Table

Look out for our Welcome Table starting in September for new members or members on their own. It will be manned by Society members before and after lecture meetings.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM is coming up in October and two of our committee members are retiring. We need members to join us and help run the Society – without volunteers we cannot provide the standard of lectures, visits and events that you have come to expect, and to keep the finances, administration and publicity well run. By joining the committee you will make a valued contribution as well as meeting many more members and, we hope, making new friends.

NorwichDFAS Calendar 2016

We are hoping to produce a calendar using NorwichDFAS members’ own art work. Any budding artists willing to allow one of their pictures to be included please contact Liz Pierce (

Any media would be acceptable. The calendar will be sold to raise funds for our Young Arts projects and to make us more widely known.

Sistema in Norwich

Sistema seeks to transform the lives of young people through participation in music, supporting children and young people to succeed across all areas of their lives through learning to play a musical instrument and being part of an orchestra. The programme particularly works in areas of social deprivation where the needs of children, families and the community are greater. We plan to support this project later inline with our charitable role. For further information go to

Andy Warhol’s Cookie Jars

Edmund de Waal’s netsuke

Magnificent Obsessions:
The Artist as Collector, Sainsbury Centre, 12 Sept 2015 – 24 Jan 2016

A new exhibition is opening at the Sainsbury Centre in September. It will present the fascinating personal collections of contempory artists, including Edmund de Waal, Peter Blake, Andy Warhol, Howard Hodgkin, and many more. This exhibition reveals the hidden world of the artist’s collection. By including both artworks and works from their private collections, Magnificent Obsessions shows the many ways in which the astonishing variety of things that artists surround themselves with directly impacts the art they make.

The personal collections on show are very varied: Howard Hodgkin has an important collection of jewel-like Indian miniature paintings. Andy Warhol had a particular passion for mass-produced cookie jars. Edmund de Waal collected Japanese netsuke, and Peter Blake’s home and studio are filled with an eclectic mix of objects that range from elephants to shop signs and Punch and Judy puppets.

Peter Blake’s elephants

May lecture

Our first lecture of our new programme year saw the return of Bertie Pearce, one of our most popular lecturers last year. He introduced us to the history of The Punch and Judy Show and the ancestry of this extraordinary character. The birthday of Punch was 1662, when Charles II reopened the theatres and the Italian puppet player Punchinello was introduced to Britain.

Tragedies traditionally has buffoons to break the mood, and the mystery plays used puppet shows so these were familiar to the audiences; the first influence on Punch was the universal clown who eats, drinks, is dishonest, loves the sexual chase and horseplay. The second influence was the Commedia dell’Arte comic character of Punchinello.

By the beginning of the 18th century Punch was hugely popular with all sections of society; the show was never meant for children but showed a character who will not submit to authority, a wife who is a drinker, and a violent marriage. It included gallows humour – the death penalty was also something familiar to the working classes. Joe the clown was a tribute to Joe Grimaldi and the policeman entered he scene in the early 19th century when Robert Peel founded his force of Bobbies.

Punch and Judy still survive as a form of folk art, and various examples of the puppets were on display for us to admire at the end of the lecture.

Cruikshank "The Great Actor, or Mr Punch in all his Glory"     

June lecture

Self Portrait with Nude

We were asked the intriguing question, “Why did Laura Knight become so famous?” – and the answer came in the course of the lecture by Timothy Wilcox. Laura was born near Nottingham in 1877 and had a deprived childhood with an absent father; her mother and grandmother brought her up. Her mother was an art teacher, and Laura briefly attended an atelier in France where no restrictions were placed on women, who studied alongside men. When her mother died she attended Nottingham art school and met fellow student Harold Knight, whom she married. They left for Cornwall in 1908 and painted beach scenes, and made a friendship with Alfred Munnings who encouraged her work.

In 1913 she painted her famous Self Portrait with Nude; Knight deeply resented the fact that female art students were not allowed to life classes where men modelled, and Self Portrait with Nude is a clear challenge, and reaction, to those rules. Norwich was lucky enough to have this portrait displayed in the Castle Art gallery earlier this year.

She joined the Royal Watercolour Society and was reported to be ‘as good as the men’. In 1920 she was painting the Ballet Russes stars, including Anna Pavlova. She exhibited at the Royal Academy and in 1936 she became the first woman since 1769 elected to the Royal Academy. By now she was a celebrity and joined the war artists in World War II. Her work shows her very bold use of colour, which was expression of her own personality. Laura Knight’s success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.