Open to Members only or Guests accompanied by MembersLectures start at 10.45am    Coffee is served from 9.45-10.30am      Venue

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Friday 25 September 2020 – Artists, Illness and Creativity

Lecturer: James Grant

It is well known that both physical and psychological illness can affect the creative process. Both can act as a stimulus but illness can also act as a major modifying influence on an artist’s perception of the world and on an artist’s creative output.This lecture seeks to explore this relationship in artists such as Durer, Goya, Monet and Kahlo in an endeavour to understand better how different illnesses impacted on their genius.

Friday 23 October 2020 – Raphael: Painter of Perfection

Lecturer: Paula Nuttall

Raphael was one of the greatest and most influential of all painters, a superstar even in his own lifetime, who remains a byword for classic perfection. This lecture surveys his life and work, from his origins in Urbino, his early years in Florence, his meteoric rise to fame at the papal court in Rome, to his sudden death at the height of his powers, aged only 37. We look at such masterpieces as the Vatican Stanze, the Sistine Madonna, the Transfiguration and the famous Vatican tapestries, charting his astonishing artistic evolution and explaining his importance in the history of art.

Friday 27 November 2020 – In the Kingdom of the Sweets

Lecturer: Nigel Bates

The Nutcracker has delighted audiences at Christmas for many decades yet it was deemed a failure at its first performances. We take a close look at how this well-loved ballet now takes its rightful place on stage and how the music of Tchaikovsky along with story-telling, design and dance all come together to make the most magical escape for young and old alike. Includes several performance video clips.

Friday 22 January 2021 – Pots and Frocks

Lecturer: Ian Swankie

Best known for his outlandish appearances dressed as his feminine alter ego, Claire, Grayson Perry is now a core part of the art establishment, a Turner Prize winner, Royal Academician, popular broadcaster and colourful character. He’s possibly one of the world’s best-known contemporary artists. His works of ceramics, textiles, tapestries and prints are highly sought after. Often controversial, he tackles difficult subjects in a poignant yet witty way and holds a mirror up to society. This talk will examine Grayson Perry’s work, his exciting and thought-provoking exhibitions, and the unique character inside the flamboyant frocks.

Friday 24 September 2021 – The Bayeaux Tapestry: 950 years of propaganda, intrigue and spin

Lecturer: Timothy Wilcox

The Bayeux Tapestry is instantly recognisable and one of the most outstanding cultural objects to survive from the early Middle Ages. Long admired for its vivid narrative, today it is the unanswered questions that most intrigue modern audiences: was it made in England or France? Was it stitched by men or women? This sparkling lecture looks not only at its creation, but also at its more amazing afterlife.
Displayed by Napoleon to bolster French ambitions for a new cross-channel invasion; cherished by Victorian embroiderers as an icon of women’s heroic joint efforts; hunted down by Hitler, who was outwitted by bureaucratic obfuscation.
A fluent French speaker, Timothy Wilcox brings a lifetime’s interest in Anglo-French relations to bear on a famous object set to become even more celebrated as it enters its next, surprising chapter.

Friday 22 October 2021 – Master Drawings Close Up

Lecturer: Susan Owens

What is silverpoint drawing? How can you tell the difference between a quill and a reed pen? This lecture looks in detail at the materials and techniques used by some of the greatest masters, including Leonardo and Raphael. It also explores innovative contemporary drawings made by laser-cutting, pricking, rubbing and tearing.

Friday 26 November 2021 – A View from the Plinth: a critical look at public sculpture

Lecturer: Mary Yule

A light-hearted but critical review of public sculpture today. Since antiquity, sculpture has transformed public spaces, celebrating and commemorating people and events and, at best, reflecting the spirit of the age. Contemporary public sculpture is more diverse and often aims to meet political, social or corporate agendas, yet at best, it can provide an enlivening and sometimes controversial focus for our public spaces. The lecture discusses many successful examples of public sculpture today, like the Angel of the North, Richard Serra’s Fulcrum at Broadgate and the series of commissions for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, plus some that are less successful. It also looks to the future and to works not yet realised, like the White Horse at Ebbsfleet – and much more besides.

Friday 28 January 2022 – Furniture of the Common Man – Vernacular furniture

Lecturer: Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski

A look into the lives of ordinary people through their furniture. Most furniture in museums and books is representative of the wealthier social classes and so tells us little about the living conditions of the ‘humbler classes’. Vernacular, in the sense of ‘every day’ and ‘common’, furniture was seldom ‘crude’ or ‘primitive’ and often displayed as much sophistication in construction and design as more costly items. This lecture focuses on the period 1600-1800 but also looks at earlier and later items.

Friday 25 February 2022 – Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion – the history of magic through art and pictures

Lecturer: Bertie Pearce

From the beginning of time the fascination with magic and the impossible has been widespread. Egypt was the cradle of magic. Sorcerer Priests used scientific principles to create illusions for the edification of worship and to hold power over the people. Where there was power there was magic. Then there is the age-old skill of sleight of hand, which proves that ‘the hand is quicker than the eye’. Magicians were known as ‘Jongleurs’ lest they be sentenced to death for ‘witchraft and conjuration’ under the edicts of Henry VIII.
With the emergence of the Music Hall, Magic gained a new respectability and audiences flocked in their thousands to watch the extraordinary feats of The Great Illusionists. This gave birth to legendary tricks such as pulling a rabbit from a hat and sawing a lady in half. And if magicians guarded their secrets with their lives, how was the Magic Circle formed ? – Home to 10,000 secrets.
Even Today in our super technical age of ipods and broadband, the wonder and surprise of magic are as popular as ever, not forgetting the Harry Potter craze.
‘Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion’ is a whistle stop tour of the history of mystery from 3000 BC to the 21st century and be careful! – you might be amazed and bewitched.

Friday 25 March 2022 – Sacred Art of Ancient China

Lecturer: Jon Cannon

Join me to tour the religious art and architecture of China. We will see examples of work of the great faiths that dominated the history of that great civilisation, including the ancient, indigenous Confucian and Taoist traditions; the image-rich Mahayana version of Buddhism that has been hugely influential in the country for two thousand years; and the distinctive Chinese responses to Christianity and Islam.

At the heart of this rich, and often precociously humanistic culture lay a series of concerns of truly ancient origin: the maintenance of harmonious relations between men and Heaven; respect for one’s family, including the spirits of one’s ancestors; and the role of the Emperor as the fulcrum of life in the ‘central Kingdom’, a role as much spiritual as secular.

During the lecture we will visit mountain-tops decorated with Confucian calligraphy; some of the oldest wooden buildings in the world — the Buddhist temples of Wutaishan, built in the eighth century and with their decoration and sculpture intact — and Mandarin’s gardens, their design infused with symbolism from Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian traditions. These between them comprised the ‘three teachings’ (San Jiao) encouraged by the imperial Chinese state.

Even today, Beijing’s layout is recognisably that of a sacred city designed around the palace and sacrificial altars associated with the imperial cult: we will see what remains of these, and ponder the role of religion in China’s modern, secular and rapidly developing state. By the end of the hour, you will have a clear and vivid idea of the enormous significance of religion for the Chinese arts.

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