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Past Lectures


Tuesday 20th June 2017
'Faking It - A Desire to Deceive' - The Allure of Imitation Jewels and Gems from 1500
Susan Rumfitt

Today we are used to wearing costume jewellery and buying stones that have been enhanced in some way. But how did all this begin and when, if at all, did it become an acceptable practice? From counterfeit balas rubies found in the Cheapside Hoard to the foiling of precious gemstones, and the production of the cultured pearl, this lecture will take you on an exciting journey about the intriguing behaviour of gemstone dealers and jewellers across Europe since 1500 in their quest to deceive!

Susan is an independent jewellery advisor, auction consultant and lecturer who has studied for a postgraduate degree at Glasgow University. She was international jewellery specialist at Phillips Auctioneers from 1996 and then Head of Department 1999—2002 and is a specialist on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

The gemstone at the front of George Vs Imperial State Crown

The gemstone at the front of George V's Imperial State Crown
Tuesday 23rd May 2017
Children's Book Illustrations
John Ericson

As adults we carry in our heads huge numbers of images from childhood, and some of those most deeply etched come from illustrations in books that we read as children. Images of 'Tigger' and 'Toad' or even 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' will probably remain with us for ever! In addition to a wide range of examples John will examine how illustrations contribute to the development of understanding and how the interaction of image and narrative creates such powerful memories.

John entertained us four years ago and returns with an entirely different subject. He was a lecturer at the University of Bath where he was Director of Studies in the School of Education with responsibility for the development of teachers. John has worked extensively overseas as an educational consultant and has given lectures and presentations all over the world. His talks are entertaining, informative, very well illustrated and presented with warmth and humour.

Illustration from
Illustration from "The House that Jack Built"
by Randolph Caldecott (1887)
Tuesday 18th April 2017
Painting on Light: A History of Stained Glass
Roger Rosewell

This richly illustrated lecture traces the history of stained glass in churches from Anglo-Saxon England until the present day. It explains evolving styles and techniques and discusses why some of Europe's greatest painters created these masterpieces of colour and storytelling. It explores how medieval people responded to these images, the lives of the artists who made them, and the relationships between stained glass windows and other works of art. Foreign glass imported into Britain, Victorian windows and the oeuvre of modern artists are also considered.

Roger is a professional lecturer, award-winning author and widely published photographer. He was educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His books include Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches; A History of Stained Glass, The Medieval Monastery and Medieval Wall Paintings. His lecture will include local examples of wall paintings, stained glass and monastic remains.

Detail of a Tree of Jesse from York Minster c. 1170.
Detail of a Tree of Jesse from
York Minster c. 1170.
Tuesday 21st March 2017
The Thinker's Guide to Gardens
Caroline Holmes

Many great gardens and some small were created to exude power and conceit, love or faith through the senses and good taste. With subtle or overt pointers in the form of statuary and sculpture, iconic design and symbolic planting the narrative unravels. What lies behind the statues of flower bedecked Flora and Venus the goddess of all growing things?

Caroline lectures for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, the Royal Horticultural Society and the English Gardening School among others. She is a consultant designer specialising in evoking historical, artistic and symbolic references and the author of nine books including Impressionists in their Gardens: Living Light And Colour, Follies of Europe: Architectural Extravaganzas and Monet at Giverny.

The Orangerie in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles
The Orangerie in the gardens
of the Palace of Versailles
Tuesday, 21st February 2017
The Fascinating World of Playing Cards
Yasha Beresiner

Surprisingly, today's playing cards date back to 1377 and decks from 1475 still survive. The English deck is of French origin and the Company of Makers of Playing Cards was founded in 1628 to protect English makers from French imports. Cards were used as a medium of communication, propaganda or education. Modern cards follow in these traditions with some wonderful collectors' decks of today.

Yasha qualified as a lawyer from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has lived in England since 1963. He has lectured extensively and is a qualified City of London guide and a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. As well as various magazine articles, other publications include A Collector's Guide to Paper Money, and British County Maps.

Playing cards by Antoine de Logiriera of Toulouse, c.1500
Playing cards by Antoine de Logiriera of Toulouse, c.1500
Tuesday, 17th January 2017
Tapestries: The Ultimate Wall Decoration
Susan Kay-Williams

This lecture will introduce some of the most important sets of tapestries in Europe. It will include the Lady and the Unicorn, those commissioned by the Dukes of Burgundy in the 15th century, Rafael's designs for Pope Leo X, Henry VIII's Abraham tapestries and Louis XIV's 17th century series around the Seasons and the Months made at the Gobelins factory. It will come right up to date with the 21st century set commissioned by the Queen of Denmark. We will explore the designs and the craft of tapestry and why it has been the most expensive form of artistic expression until recent times.

Susan is Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her first book, The Story of Colour in Textiles, was published in 2013.

The Lady and the Unicorn (c 1500)
The Lady and the Unicorn (c 1500)
September 2016
Theatrical Personalities of the 20th Century: Evans, Gielgud, Richardson, Olivier and Ashcroft
Frances Hughes

Frances entertained us on a couple of occasions and returns to tell us about what was perhaps the greatest generation of actors the United Kingdom has ever seen. Using paintings by artists such as Sickert and photographic images from the cameras of Beaton and Snowdon, amongst others, we shall trace their careers and their influence on the major actors of today including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen and Simon Russell Beale.

Frances spent thirty-eight years in education, eighteen as a head teacher. She is now a freelance lecturer at the National Portrait Gallery and for the National Trust. She is secretary of Shakespeare Reading Society (founded 1875), Chairman of the Irving Society, and Chairman of the Henry Irving Foundation.

Dame Edith Evans
Dame Edith Evans
Tuesday, 18th October 2016
The Art of the South Coast — The Influence of the South Coast on the work of Piper and Ravilious
Gerald Deslandes

This talk will look at the portrayal of the rolling landscape of the Downs in the work of William Nicholson, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell but the main focus of the talk will be on the work of Nash, Piper, Ravilious and Bawden. The lecture will relate the artists' portrayal of the south coast to the contemporary promotion of the area through tourist brochures and railway posters as well as discussing its depiction in the work of English novelists, photographers and film-makers.

Gerald Deslandes studied art history at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He worked for nearly 20 years as a curator in publicly funded galleries organising exhibitions of sculpture by artists such as Antony Gormley, Andy Goldsworthy, Cornelia Parker and Damien Hirst. He teaches art history and visual studies and is a consultant to museums and galleries in the UK. He also leads cultural tours abroad as well as to many areas of the UK.

The Long Man of Wilmington. Eric Ravilious (1939)
The Long Man of Wilmington.
Eric Ravilious (1939)
Tuesday, 15th November 2016
Joseph Wright of Derby and the Men and Art of the Lunar Society
Leslie Primo

Eighteenth century England saw the flowering of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the self-made man who came from industry. This lecture explores the lives – through the paintings of Reynolds and others – of a unique group of individuals such as James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Wright of Derby who would call themselves the Lunar Society. They thought of themselves as natural philosophers, but became the first scientists.

Leslie returns to us for a second time. He holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. He was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, and gives lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. He also lectures at the City Literary Institute, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute.

Father Frost, Illustration by Ivan Bilibin (1932)
A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery by
Joseph Wright of Derby (1766)
Tuesday, 6th December 2016
Father Frost and Old New Year: Christmas Traditions in Russia
Rosamund Bartlett

This lecture explores the rich tradition of religious and folk customs associated with the Christmas period in Russia, and shows how they are reflected in the Russian arts, with musical illustrations. It also discusses the secular Christmas celebrations introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, how they were transformed by Stalin during Soviet times, and what Christmas means to Russians today.

Rosamund has a doctorate from Oxford and has held senior university posts, most recently at the European University Institute in Florence. She specialises in the comparative study of art, music and literature, and is the author of biographies of Tolstoy and Chekhov, whose works she has also translated for Oxford World's Classics. She has lectured at the V&A, the National Theatre, and broadcasts regularly on the BBC.

Father Frost, Illustration by Ivan Bilibin (1932)
Father Frost, Illustration by
Ivan Bilibin (1932)
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