Our 2014-2015 Lecture Programme

Below is a list of lectures and a brief synopsis of each. You can download a Printable Copy of the lecture programme.

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5 September 2014

Music and Instruments at the Tudor Courts
Jeanne Dolmetsch

This lecture was presented with pictures and recorded music and traced the changing forms, styles and instrumental tone-colours in music from the time of Henry VII to Elizabeth I.

The Tudor monarchs introduced wind, stringed and keyboard instruments from Italy and the Netherlands, creating a Chapel Royal of unparalleled richness and diversity.

An English school of composition for voices, viols, virginals and lute emerged, reaching such artistic heights in late Elizabethan times that the period became known as ‘The Golden Age’ of English music.

It is not surprising to discover that the Tudor monarchs were themselves gifted musicians who cultivated music not only for court ceremony but for their personal pleasure as well.

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10 October 2014

Marc Chagall: Wandering Jew or Citizen of the World?
Monica Bohm-Duchen

As his work makes abundantly clear, Marc Chagall (1887-1985) remained deeply loyal to his humble Russian-Jewish origins.

Yet he also wished his art to have a universal appeal – which, judging by its popularity, it undoubtedly achieved.

This lecture traced his long, chequered and colourful career, giving particular emphasis to the creative tensions produced by the very different cultural and artistic environments in which he found himself: starting with his hometown of Vitebsk (up to 1906), then St. Petersburg (1906-10), Paris (1910-14), Revolutionary Russia (1914-22), Berlin (1922-3), Paris (again, 1923-40), America during World War Two, and back to France in 1948.

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14 November 2014

Love, Art and Tragedy – Close encounters in a Cornish Art colony
Catherine Wallace

Please note that this was a change from the published programme Card. This lecture was originally scheuled for February 2015. The original November lecture is now taking place in February.

Laura and Harold Knight, Charles and Ella Naper.

The setting is a remote Cornish valley called Lamorna; the time, the early 1900s, the characters include Alfred Munnings, his young wife Florence Carter-Wood, Laura and Harold Knight, Ella and Charles Naper, Captain Evans and Lamorna Birch.

They all become very close and, in the melting pot of creativity, a tragedy occurs.

This talk looked at the art that was being created and story behind the tragedy.

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12 December 2014

Charles Dickens and the Imagery of Christmas
Claire Walsh

This lecture looked at the impact Charles Dickens had on the way Christmas was understood in the nineteenth century and the way it was represented pictorially.

For Dickens Christmas was a vital channel for conveying deeply held values on childhood, the family, work, poverty and charity.

His powerful message, particularly in A Christmas Carol, affected the imagery of Christmas, from feasting and carol singing to Father Christmas himself.

The urgency and humanity of Dickens’ Christmas message reached beyond representations of Christmas itself to influence artists’ portrayals of the poor, goodwill and the human spirit, and Dickens’ vision was an important influence in the development of the Social Realist School of painting.

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9 January 2015

The Country House in the Twentieth Century
Roger Mitchell

Two lectures for the price of one.

We looked at houses built in the 20th century like Manderston, Blackwell, Castle Drogo, Rodmarton and Eltham Palace but also at the fascinating story of how the Country House coped with the challenges of the 20th century – agricultural depression, high taxation, two World Wars, the National Trust and much else.

We moved from the dark days of the 1950s when so many great houses were destroyed to the more optimistic outlook at the start of a new millennium.

Over the last forty years old houses have been restored and new ones like Meols Hall and Henbury Hall have been built.

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13 February 2015

A Photographic Odyssey: Shackleton's Endurance Expedition Captured on Camera
Mark Cottle

Please note a change from the published programme Card. The original February lecture took place in November 2014.

On Ernest Shackleton’s third Antarctic expedition in 1914, his ship, the Endurance, was trapped and eventually crushed in the pack ice. After camping for five months on the ice, Shackleton’s men rowed to the remote Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton sailed for help to South Georgia over 800 miles away. Over three months later he returned to rescue the crew of the Endurance.

Frank Hurley, one of the great photographers of the 20th century, was the expedition’s official photographer. His photographs are a visual narrative of an epic journey which capture with great artistry new and amazing landscapes within which a remarkable human drama is played out.

The aim of the lecture was to capture Hurley’s achievements as a photographer of the Antarctic in the first flush of human contact when it was still essentially terra incognita

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13 March 2015

Shock! Horror! Probe! The art and artifice of ‘Fleet Street’: A newspaper story in pictures
Geri Parlby

Since the end of the 15th century, when Wynkyn de Worde set up England's first printing press and after 1702, when the first newspaper, the Daily Courant, moved in, the term "Fleet Street" has been synonymous with newspaper journalism.

In this lecture we looked at the ups and downs of this notorious ‘Street of Shame’ via the art that illustrated its stories.

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10 April 2015

The Art of the Japanese Garden: From Tradition to Modernity
Professor Marie Conte-Helm

This lecture introduced some of Japan’s most famous gardens and provides a context for understanding the principles of Japanese garden design as it has evolved through the ages.

The Japanese love of nature and the changing seasons has manifested itself in the subject matter of paintings and the intimate and grand-scale gardens surrounding aristocratic palaces and Buddhist temples as well as Zen-inspired dry landscape gardens with their striking symbolic content.

Nature and artifice are intriguingly combined in such examples to capture the very essence of the landscape.

Historical development and religious and philosophical influences have informed the Japanese approach to the visual arts.

This lecture also drew upon wider examples to illustrate the distinctive qualities that the Japanese have brought to garden design, an approach that has been successfully adapted to modern domestic settings and to Japanese gardens abroad.

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8 May 2015

18th Century English Porcelain: Contexts and Chronology
Anton Gabszewicz

This lecture put English porcelain that first appeared in the mid 1740s, within the broader context of world ceramics.

This included a brief outline of the development of ceramics from China and Japan in the east via the short lived experiments in Florence under the Medici in the late 16th century and the first introduction of hard paste porcelain to Europe at Meissen in the early 18th century.

Meanwhile the French had developed soft paste porcelain at St. Cloud and Chantilly; England was soon to follow this tradition at Bow and Chelsea.

In exploring this complicated background it was interesting to see how the English manufacturers were so strikingly influenced.

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12 June 2015

Inn Signia: Pub Signs the Artwork and the Stories they Tell
John Ericson

Inns and public houses are a rich part of Britain’s heritage and their often idiosyncratic names and signs provide us with some fascinating stories and wonderful artwork.

Why there are so many pubs called The Red Lion or The White Hart?

Who could fail to be intrigued by stories behind The Drunken Duck or The Cow and Snuffers or even the I am the Only Running Footman (the longest pub name in London)?

In this talk John Ericson shows examples of some of the most distinctive signs and tells the stories of their origins.