Past Lectures & Visits 7 November LYDIA BAUMAN   New lecture, please ignore previous description of lecture. "The nude - a history of lust, vanity and scandal" Nudes (mostly female), have preoccupied artists (mostly male) for centuries. Far from being 'eye candy' however, they tell us a great deal of the social forces which shaped standards of beauty in the human form over the centuries. From Titian's Venus of Urbino to Manet's Olympia, we will consider the role of classical mythology in legitimising the unclothed female body as a subject, trace the changing canons of beauty and hear of the scandals which occasionally beset paintings of nudes at odds with the times. Right:  A Bather by Pierre-Auguste Renoir probably 1885-90 28 November (Christmas lecture) Seasonal refreshments from 9:45am JANET ROBSON Would the real Santa Claus please stand up? Who is Santa Claus? The familiar image of the jolly fellow with the white beard and red suit was to a large degree the creation of American illustrator Thomas Nast in the 1860s. This lecture follows the various transformations of St. Nicholas through 1,600 years of history. Originating in Byzantine Turkey in the fourth century, the cult of ‘Nicholas of Myra’ was actually the result of two completely different Nicholases getting muddled up. In 1087, when a bunch of Italian sailors snatched the saint’s relics and took them back to Puglia, ‘Nicholas of Myra’ became ‘Nicholas of Bari’. Medieval Europe made St. Nicholas into one of the greatest miracle- workers of all time. His stories were painted everywhere. Saving poor girls from prostitution and sailors from shipwreck, rescuing boys from kidnappers, clerks from murderous innkeepers, and babies from boiling bathwater... Above: 1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus Nicholas became the Mister Fix-It of western sainthood. Add a propensity for gift-giving, and a feastday during Advent, and what do you get...? Santa Claus. Norman Rockwell's 1921 cover for the magazine The Country Gentleman shows Santa with his modern red and white theme. Background on Santa Claus The Art & Architecture of Barcelona, Abbey of Montserrat & Dalí’s Figueres 5 days from £849 Departs 1st November 2017 Click here for photos from the recent trip to Barcelona  Four night stay in a 4* hotel in the centre of Barcelona.  Guided coach tour of Barcelona stopping at Gaudi’s Park Güell, visiting Gaudi’s home within Park Güell and then travel on to view the exterior of the church of La Sagrada Familia. Visiting Figueres, the home town of Salvador Dali. With have a guided tour of the Museo Teatro, founded in 1974 and now the most visited museum in Spain. Also visiting Casa Batlló (left) on the prestigious Passeig de Gràcia. Designed by Gaudi for Josep Batlló, a wealthy aristocrat, this extraordinary building was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Next day a beautiful drive to Montserrat's Benedictine monastery affording dramatic views over Catalonia.  Then in the afternoon a guided tour of the Fundació Joan Miró to explore the permanent collection of graphics, paintings and statues by the surrealist artist Joan Miro. On the final day we have a guided tour of the collection at Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) this morning introduces us to one of the most important art collections in the city, ranging from the 11th century Romanesque through the Gothic era to modern art with works by artists such as El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Gaudí, Dalí and Picasso. Click here for the web site for Case Batllo Hotel web site Web site for Park Guell Museo Teatro web site Joan Miro web site Buy tickets for concerts and football! 17 October ANTHONY RAYWORTH Living With History (Interior Design) A richly illustrated talk, tracing the development of the  residential interior from the 17th to the 21st centuries and examining ways in which historical spaces may be reinterpreted to accommodate contemporary living. An inspirational selection of interiors within farmhouses, cottages, country estates and townhouses, as well as those located within buildings from our industrial heritage and other non-traditional contexts, are presented as stylish and successful examples of this approach to interior design. Link to 50 interior design web sites Bringing a Victorian house into the 20th century 9 September DAVID BOSTWICK Fashion and Friendship: The Embroideries & Decorative Schemes of Mary, Queen of Scots & Bess of Hardwick From 1569 to 1584 Mary was held in the custody of George, Earl of Shrewsbury. His wife, Bess of Hardwick, shared a love of embroidery with the captive queen. Over the years they devised some of the most important Elizabethan embroideries to survive: wall-hangings, table-carpets and cushion-covers. This lecture reveals the hidden messages in their designs and in the decorative schemes at Elizabethan Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall, and tells the amazing story of Bess and her fabulous French furniture! Right: A modern recreation of the 1592 dress that Bess of Shrewsbury (of Hardwick Hall) embroidered for her friend Queen Elizabeth I. Mary’s embroidery Background to Bess of Hardwick 20 June Caroline Holmes Monet at Giverney In 1883 Monet moved into Le Pressoir, Giverny,  below his house he created  gardens whose colours vibrantly or contemplatively evolved under the  Norman skies.  Initially he painted the rural motifs of the poplars and grain stacks before devoting himself to the floral canvas of his own making until his death in 1926. Botanically and horticulturally skilled, Monet grew the latest in irises and water lilies watching them as the day reflected its course in their shapes, moments captured for eternity in over 500 paintings. The meticulous restoration of Giverny provides the canvas to explore the man, his paintings and his gardens.  Web site for visitors to gardens Background to the garden 16 May Magdalen Evans Creativity within UK Prisons This lecture will highlight the myriad projects going on  around the country which attempt to harness people’s potential, often in a place where they are able to concentrate for the first time.  A very high proportion of prisoners will have left school early or fallen out with the education system at a young age, and although grim, prisons walls provide a back-drop where their physical lives at least are not chaotic.  Fine Cell Work teaches inmates to sew, most of whom are men, as women only make up about 8% of the prison estate.  Those on long sentences often prove both the best students and in due course the best stitchers and their work is sold to the smartest drawing rooms in the land through the charity’s events and pop-up shops.  The Koestler Trust runs an annual exhibition at the South Bank and highlights the need for more feminine arts and crafts inside what invariably are very male environments.  Fine Cell’s web site 18 April   Laura de Beden Modern Italian Gardens, La Mortella, Sir William and Lady Walton’s Italian Garden Paradise (with music) La Mortella, “the place of myrtles”, was a rocky outcrop acquired in 1956 by the British composer William Walton and Susana, his Argentinean bride, after he had decided to settle on the Island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, in search of the necessary peace and quiet to compose his music. The task of taming the Mediterranean landscape was huge, and the Waltons invited Russell Page, a renowned landscape architect, to come to their rescue. The lecture will narrate the story of how the wild place was transformed into an amazing garden, a work of art now famous all over the world. There will be colourful anecdotes and music too. Lady Walton wrote that La Mortella is a garden of sounds – poetic, mysterious, serene and joyous. All the more true as thanks to her indefatigable efforts and unwavering loyalty, La Mortella is now the active centre of the William Walton Foundation, staging a season of concerts, and a Trust set up to help young musicians to blossom. A panorama of images accompanied by Walton’s music will conclude the lecture. La Mortella web site STUDY DAY  28th March 2017 at Great Ponton Hall  JANE ANGELINI – The Kingdom in the Sun: Classical and Mediaeval Sicily Few islands have played such a significant role in history as Sicily, and none which is so small. Poised between Africa and Europe, midway in the Mediterranean, it has been both a gateway and a crossroads attracting a long line of invaders from Greeks, Romans and Arabs to the Normans, Spanish and Italians. The legacy of so many dominant civilisations has produced a cultural mix of great richness and variety, for the chequered history of Sicily has included periods of exceptional wealth and artistic achievement. 21 March 2017 Peter Le Rossignol The Stone of Heaven – Jade 1500BC - 1800 This lecture explores the importance of jade throughout all periods  of Chinese history from the early tombs to the magnificently carved decorative items of the 18th century. Nephrite jade was used in the manufacture of objects until the Mogul emperors annexed northern Burma into the Empire and discovered jadeite, the most prized stone of all. The Emperor Qianlong (1736 – 1795), due to his passion for jade, practically bankrupted the country, and was instrumental in building a three thousand mile long road from Burma to China, just for the purpose of transporting this stone. The symbolism of the carvings and the manner of manufacture are also discussed. Jade dragon, Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 9 AD) Background of the Jade gemstone Background on jade 21 February Shirley Smith The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Sculpture & Poetry of Michelangelo Michelangelo is known today for his painting in the Sistine Chapel and his rebuilding of the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome but he always considered himself first and foremost a sculptor. Yet he was also a prolific writer of sonnets.  This lecture will study his sculpture and his sonnets as a means of better understanding both the artist and his works from the optimism of the Pieta and David of his youth, through the frustration of Pope Julius II’s tomb to the agonizing Deposition of his later years.  Click here for background on Michelangelo 17 January 2017 Ian Swankie Romans & Romantics: The Guildhall Art Gallery, London's Real Hidden Gem The City of London Corporation has been commissioning and acquiring art for nearly 350 years and now owns a vast and diverse collection. This talk explores the varied display of works in the Guildhall Art Gallery. We will look at paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries as well as the sparkling Victorian collection. The gallery also owns many modern works including a large collection by Matthew Smith. Built on the site of London’s Roman amphitheatre, which is open to the public, the gallery was completely refurbished and re-hung in January 2015.  Click here for Guildhall web site     Web site designed, created and maintained by Janet Groome, Handshake Computer Training
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