2014-15 Season

2.15pm Borwick Memorial Hall. Tea/coffee and cakes beforehand. 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

The Windermere Steamboat Museum

Margaret Reid MA MSc, Curator

Hidden away in the Windermere Steamboat Museum is an astonishing collection of high quality vessels from the 13th to the 20th centuries.  In aesthetic terms, the vessels display the ultimate in luxury design and craftsmanship. They are also extremely revealing in a social history context and are evocative and moving reminders of a lost lifestyle and their stories are those of their people.  This talk, delivered by the Museum’s Curator, interweaves historic human stories with an insight into how the collection is being cared for today and looks forward to the exciting new setting for which a large grant has just been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Pomp and Power: Architecture of the British Empire

Professor John M MacKenzie MA PhD FRHistS FRSE, Professor Emeritus, Lancaster University

Empires often leave grand material remains.  Perhaps Rome is the most celebrated example from the more distant past.  More recently, the British Empire was influential in leaving cities throughout the world that were planned and built during the imperial period.  In India, two of the most notable examples are the grandly classical Calcutta (Kolkata) and the dramatically Gothic Bombay (Mumbai).  Here, the British left behind them striking forts and barracks, churches and cathedrals, government houses and law courts, railway stations and universities, town halls and museums, as well as many more humble buildings. This lecture from one of the world’s leading imperial historians will examine these and set them into the ideology and purposes of British imperialism.



Tuesday 15 April 2014

Michelangelo’s David

Professor Brendan Cassidy

When Michelangelo won the prestigious commission to carve an image of David he was only 26.  He would work on the block of Carrara marble, on which others had already made their own incisions, from 1501 to 1504 on the premise that it would take its place high on the cathedral in Florence. Although it was never placed there, this may well account for the balance of the proportions.  Professor Brendan Cassidy, Head of History of Art at the University of St Andrews has a special interest in early sculpture and he is currently researching a social history of the craft in Italy from the thirteenth century to Michelangelo.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Life & Times of the Sundial:  A Perspective on Civilisation's Most Enduring Timekeeper

Kevin Karney MA JP

The history of the sundial outstrips that of the clock by at least two thousand years. The lecture examines how time has been told down the ages from the perspective of both the Sundial and its competitors. It compares what philosophers and poets thought about time. It looks at various aspects of the sundial:  as a teller of time; a marker for religious observance; a memento mori; a vehicle for exquisite craftsmanship and as a sign of elegance, sophistication and civic pride.


Tuesday 17 June 2014

Goya’s Portraits:  The Spirit of An Age

Dr Xavier Bray.Chief Curator, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Xavier Bray, a specialist in Spanish painting (and formerly responsible for the National Gallery’s Spanish collection) is the ideal lecturer to take us inside the sometimes frightening vision of Francisco De Goya y Lucientes. A Spanish court painter whose best work was done away from his official duties he is known for his scenes of violence, especially those prompted by the French invasion of Spain. For the bold technique of his paintings, the haunting satire of his etchings and his belief that the artist's vision is more important than tradition, Goya is often called "the first of the moderns." His uncompromising portrayal of his times marks the beginning of 19th-century realism.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Genius of Antonio Stradivari

Toby Faber MA MBA

For more than two hundred years, Antonio Stradivari’s violins and cellos have been the most highly prized instruments in the world.  Loved by great musicians and capable of fetching fabulous sums when sold, their tone and beauty are legendary.  Successive generations of violin-makers have failed to meet the challenge that they set. How can that be? Following instruments from Stradivari's Cremonese workshop to the present day this lecture, illustrated with pictures of violins and of key individuals and locations, as well as with some short musical recordings, explores that mystery.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Fakes & Forgeries:  the art of deception - insight into the methods used by criminals to dupe the art market

Malcolm Kenwood

The question of fake decorative art has been in vogue for hundreds of years.  However increasingly sophisticated methods are being used by criminals to generate vast profits. This lecture reveals actual case studies, demonstrating the lengths forgers will go to in passing off works as legitimate.  Skilled forgers capable of imitating well known artists have provided the ability to dupe many at the highest level within the art market.  Experts have estimated that a high percentage of all works within the art market are fake with consequences for collectors and trade alike.  Malcolm Kenwood was professionally involved in the investigation art and antique crime and Recoveries Director for the Art Loss Register.


Virgin with Child, circa 1920. Tests of this painting, by an unknown
 Italian forger of the 1920's
revealed that the purportedly
 ancient wormholes in the panel had been made with a drill
 (they were straight, not crooked) and the Virgin's robe was painted usin
 Prussian Blue, a pigment not invented until the 18th century

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Arts & Crafts Furniture of the 19th Century

Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski MSc BEd

William Morris defined arts as ‘man’s expression of his joy in labour’, and his dictum “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” encompasses his views of both the utility and aesthetics of furniture.  To what extent should the Arts & Crafts approach be seen as a reaction to the hyper-ornamented ‘high Victorian’ style and did it produce furniture for the common man?  Was the style new or a return to the simple joinery of the 17th century?  What were its merits and what were its defects?  These and other questions will be considered in this welcome return visit from Mr Karczewski-Slowikowski.



Tuesday16 December 2014

Beau Brummell: A Life as Art: dandyism and the birth of London's West End

Ian Kelly, Writer and Actor

Before his decline into poverty, incarceration and madness Beau Brummell cut a dramatic swathe through late Georgian society.  Examining the interplay of fame, wealth, sexuality, and fashion, actor Ian Kelly maintains Beau Brummell is a story of the modern age as much as Brummell’s own – one in which men’s fashions and masculinity were redefined and London’s West End, and shopping itself, was reinvented.  Brummell set in motion a fashion revolution that defines the way men and women dress across the world to this day.  But as this revealing, funny and detailed lecture demonstrates, the clothes and the fame were only part of this intriguing, complex man.



Tuesday 20 January 2015

Inspired by Stonehenge

Julian Richards FSA, MIFA

The well-known archaeologist and broadcaster Julian Richards, author of the official guidebook to Stonehenge, takes time in this lecture to explore the architectural and decorative aspects of the original structure.  He then moves on to look at the way in which it has become a cultural icon, inspiring musicians and artists such as Constable, Turner and Moore (among others).  He also touches on the production of the eclectic range of 'tasteful' souvenirs that so many visitors cannot resist.