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Newsletter - March 2014


Église Saint-Pierre-de-la-Tour d'Aulnay
Caption Laura McDonald and
Liz Pierce with Laura’s portrait

RBA exhibition

For the second year running Norwich DFAS has submitted an A-level student’s work to the Royal Society of British Artists and NADFAS exhibition and had a work accepted. The student, Laura McDonald from Wymondham High, accompanied Liz Pierce and Pam Dons to London where her oil portrait   ‘Mr Parkes the Butcher’ was on show. The launch was opened by Andrew Marr and Laura said she was absolutely delighted to have her work in this exhibition. She now has gone on to Loughborough University to study fine art.



A reminder about the April lecture

We have decided – as Lucy Worsley has become so high profile since she last came to lecture to us – that we will not be able to book in any guests for the next lecture.

Cambridge NADFAS Four Societies Concert

Four Societies Concert

Every year the four Cambridge NADFAS societies organise a concert and this year the event is on Thursday 3rd April when there is a programme of chamber music. A flyer giving more information is attached. Click on the blue flyer to get a full sized copy.



Friends of The Historic Houses Association Visit to Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk on Wednesday 30th April 2014

There are a few places left on a visit organised for the Friends of The Historic Houses Association. 

It is a self drive visit arriving at 11am at Kentwell Hall, a beautiful redbrick Tudor mansion surrounded by a broad moat. The owners, Patrick and Judith Phillips will show the group round. This is a day when the Hall is not open to the public. The Hall is featured in Simon Jenkins' “England's Thousand Best Houses” Website:

After the included two course lunch, one can visit either or both of the other two attractions in Long Melford – the stunning Holy Trinity Church awarded 5 stars by Simon Jenkins and Melford Hall, visited by Elizabeth I, almost destroyed in 1642 and 1942 and now open 1-5pm (free entry to National Trust members)

The cost is £36; please apply to Naomi Milne by sending an email to or tel. 01603 419403

Habitat Catalogued

According to the Daily Telegraph, the opening of Habitat features in the same list of significant anniversaries as the sacking of Jerusalem, albeit about a thousand years after that event. Caroline MacDonald-Haig worked closely with Terence Conran from 1972 to 1975 as a copywriter on Habitat’s catalogue.

Terence Conran has a passion for good modern design; his influences were the Bauhaus and the Arts and Crafts movements, and he believed that good design could improve the quality of everyday life. He was only 20 years old when the Festival of Britain opened, but some of his work was featured there. Shortly after he opened his furniture making business. His fabrics and ceramics were influenced by the art of Paul Klee.

Portrait of a Venetian Woman Dürer
The Calling of St Matthew Caravaggio
The Jewish Bride Rembrandt

His trip to France in 1953 which he found absolutely extraordinary, and his friendship with Elizabeth David, both hugely influenced the wares in his first store that opened in 1964 on the Fulham Road. The white brick walls and terracotta floor tiles were as radical as the goods stocked, which were piled high. Fabrics were colourful as were lamps, kitchenware and Indian rugs. After the austerity of the post-war years this display of bright, strong colours was immediately attractive.

The catalogue grew out of the original Habitat by Post and the team producing it moved to offices in Neal Street, Covent Garden where a nearby warehouse provided sufficient space to photograph the room settings. Antique dealers were keen to lend props for these sets for a credit in the catalogue, and the choice of enamel signs and patchwork quilts opened the customers’ eyes to new ways of furnishing their homes. The scrubbed pine kitchen table, beloved of Elizabeth David, became popular and influenced Habitat’s own range.

Conran moved into designing porcelain for the stores, working with the Royal College of Art, and his band and line pattern has become a classic. His Chinese lanterns, posters of antique horticultural prints, Indian rugs still influence our choices in interior design, as well as his well made and well designed furniture.

Habitat stores grew in number, both at home and abroad, and Conran diversified into the Neal Street Restaurant; in the 80s he opened the Design Museum on the south bank of the Thames where Conran’s 80th birthday was celebrated with an exhibition called The Way we Life Now, showing how his design work touched all our lives. After all, most of us still have a chicken brick tucked away in the back of our kitchen cupboards!

Caroline described Conran as the William Morris of his age, and her lecture certainly brought back the heady times when we were offered a new look in the home, with affordable, bright designs.