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Programme 2023

Monday, 30 January 2023
Stella Grace Lyons
MAGIC REALISM IN NEW ENGLAND: THE MESMERISING WORK OF ANDREW WYETH
‘If there is such a thing as a purely American tradition in Art, it is represented at its best in the straightforward canvases of Andrew Wyeth.’ — LIFE magazine, 1948.
Andrew Wyeth is one of America’s best-known Realist painters of the 20th century. In a career spanning 75 years, he created paintings of everyday life in Pennsylvania and Maine that were imbued with mystery and emotion. He painted with an exacting detail that led to his style being termed ‘magic realism’. This talk looks at his poignant landscapes, his scandalous ‘Helga’ series and his moving portraits, including a focused look at his most iconic work, ‘Christina’s World’.

 


 

Monday, 27 February 2023
Roger Butler
CANAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE
This lecture provides a colourful introduction to the secret world of our 2000-mile inland waterway network and looks at all aspects of their exceptional artistic, architectural and engineering vernacular. Features range from sweeping aqueducts to tiny bollards; from colourful historic narrowboats to 'Roses and Castles' artwork; from grand World Heritage Sites to quirky listed buildings. A well-known architectural historian once described our canals as a 'poor man's art gallery'.

 


 

Monday, 27 March 2023 
Amanda Herries
A PASSION FOR TEA: CEREMONIES, FASHION AND STYLES, FROM EAST TO WEST, CULMINATING IN THE GREAT BRITISH CUPPA
 In 1660 Samuel Pepys made a diary entry ‘I did send for a cup of tea – a China drink – of which I had never drunk before’. But the story of tea drinking had started  in China over a thousand years earlier, and by the 13th century the famous rituals of tea, ‘cha no yu’ were established in Japan. By the 18th century tea was the fashionable drink throughout Europe – subject to crippling taxes and still only available from China, frequently adulterated along the way.
Differences between green and black teas, blends, additions of sugar, milk or lemon, smuggling, British rituals – even opium - all form background to the great British Cuppa.

 


 

Monday, 24 April 2023
Mark Ovenden
160 YEARS OF LONDON UNDERGROUND DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
Covers surprising attempts to create some graphic unity, even in the 1860s and 70s, expansion of the Underground and the need to create some cohesion between the different operating companies, Leslie Green's architecture and the Arts & Crafts movement, Frank Pick, Edward Johnston's typeface, Charles Holden's architecture and the Streamline Moderne/Art Deco movement, the New Works Programme, post war austerity/design, Victoria Line, loss of Johnston & rescue by Kono, Jubilee Line Extension/architecture, creation of TfL, recent schemes and future works including the Elizabeth Line/Northern Line extension to Battersea etc..

 


 

Monday, 22 May 2023
Anna Bianco
PAINTING IN THE JUNGLE OF PARIS: AN EXPLORATION OF THE LIFE AND WORK OF HENRI ROUSSEAU
“We are the two great painters of this era; you are in the Egyptian style, I in the modern style.”
 Henri Rousseau said these words to Pablo Picasso in 1908, but how did Henri Rousseau, who had no formal artistic training, come to be accepted by the avant-garde artists of his time and today have his art works hang in many of the world’s greatest art collections? In this lecture I will explore the fascinating and enigmatic life and work of the, sometimes called, ‘primitive’ artist Henri Rousseau. The lecture is full of vivid, bright and dynamic paintings which transport the audience far away to exotic lands that were developed in the artist’s imagination. Rousseau was a master of convincing others that he had travelled the world, both with his words and his art, but it is likely that he never left France at all.
The lecture is set against the backdrop of late 19th and early 20th century Paris, and also looks at works by other renowned artists including Picasso, Leger and Gauguin.
Lockdown 1 inspired me to return to my fascination with Henri Rousseau which began when I was only 16. During Lockdown 1 whilst in the last trimester of pregnancy with my daughter, I decided to paint a mural on her bedroom wall inspired by Rousseau’s work. Working in Rousseau’s style reminded me of just how bizarrely talented this unusual artist was, and I hope that this fresh perspective on the artist will be enjoyable for your society. 

 


 

Monday, 18 September 2023
Ian Swankie
THE MEDIEVAL GUILDHALL - LONDON’S NERVE CENTRE FOR 2,000 YEARS
In the centre of the City of London stands its ancient headquarters, the medieval Guildhall, one of the capital’s hidden gems. The present building dates from 1411 and is still in use today. The whole building stands on the site of London’s Roman amphitheatre the remains of which are still visible today. This lecture describes the Guildhall exterior and interior. We look at some of the key monuments in the building and then study some of the many paintings depicting the Guildhall’s rich history contained in the adjacent Guildhall Art Gallery. We finish by going 18 feet below street level to the Roman amphitheatre. See also details of the Romans and Romantics lecture for a more in-depth look at the art gallery.

 


 
Monday, 30 October 2023
Simon Seligman
MAKING & UNMAKING: THE ELEMENTAL LAND ART OF JULIE BROOK
Many viewers of a BBC4 profile of artists who work out in nature, presented by Dr James Fox, were haunted by the fire stacks of the only female artist featured, Julie Brook. My lecture explores this fascinating artist and the range of her work over four decades in some of the world’s wild places, centred always on her passion for the islands and coast of West Scotland where she lives. From drawings, oil painting and film to her powerful physical interventions in the landscapes of Britain, North Africa and Japan that engage with the elements of earth, air, fire and water, Julie Brook’s work takes its place alongside such pioneers as Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and Richard Long.
I am lucky enough to have known Julie well for many decades and have access to her archive and never before seen photographs of her work, and my lecture charting her career, will include fragments from her astonishing art films.

 


       
Monday, 27 November 2023
Richard Burnip
DAVID NIVEN ON SCREEN - FROM EXTRA TO INSTITUTION
Niven's remarkable career explored, with an examination of his enduring place in public affection. Rising from studio extra to Hollywood leading man, although Niven remained characteristically modest about his abilities they were in fact considerable, as this lecture demonstrates. Particular attention is paid to his military roles, and insights are offered into the huge range of his wartime activities. From his personification of an ideal young subaltern in The Way Ahead, to the reality of being a Lt.-Colonel on Eisenhower’s staff, there was much more to this unique actor than a moustache and a smile.