2018 - 19 Season

2.15pm Borwick & Priest Hutton Memorial Hall. 

Tea/coffee available before and after lectures.

Guests by prior appointment with the Membership Secretary - £5 guest charge per meeting. 

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Mr Langshaw’s Square Piano:  how the first pianos initiated a cultural revolution

Madeline Goold, LLB, BA, MPhil, SWLA

A number concealed in a piano made by John Broadwood in 1807 leads to a quest to discover who had first owned and played it. A host of characters from Georgian society emerges, some famous, some forgotten.  Mr Langshaw came from Lancaster and followed his father as organist at the Priory.  He lived and studied with the Wesley family and attended their subscription concerts where he met London’s elite society, people immortalised in some of the finest paintings and conversation pieces of the period.  These, together with letters and memoirs and archival documents of great beauty, enable us to trace a life lived through a momentous phase of English socio-cultural change. His story is set against a broad historical background; Broadwood pianos carried the voice and values of British culture to every part of the known world. We look at pianos humble and grand in museums and private collections and, through contemporary paintings, at the people who owned them. As pianos found their way from drawing-room to parlour, from schoolhouse to public house, Indian bungalow and Caribbean Great house, did they indeed bring about a cultural revolution?

Madeline Goold, LLB; B.A; M.Phil; SWLA, originally read Law at the London School of Economics, and later Fine Art and History of Art at the Barber Institute, Birmingham.  A professional sculptor, she teaches stone carving at her studio and exhibits with the Society of Wildlife Artists to which she was elected in 2009.  A lifelong pianist, the purchase of an historic piano led her to writing Mr Langshaw’s Square Piano (Corvo Books UK) and research on the early piano for a PhD at Birmingham University.  She is a LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) gold medallist with Distinction in public speaking. 

Tuesday 20 March 2018

The Queen of Instruments:  the Lute within Old Master Paintings

Adam Busiakiewicz, BA, MA

The lute holds a special place in the history of art: painters of the Italian Renaissance depicted golden-haired angels plucking its delicate strings, evoking celestial harmony; in the sixteenth century, during the rise of humanism, the lute was a becoming pastime of educated courtiers, as depicted by the likes of Holbein and Titian; throughout the seventeenth century, the instrument continued to play a key role in emphasising the intimate, debauched and transient pleasures of interior scenes by Jan Steen and portraits by Frans Hals. This lecture looks at the lute, and other musical instruments, as devices to express various aspects of the human character throughout the ages.

As part of the lecture, Adam will perform several pieces of music on the lute.

Adam Busiakiewicz is an art historian, lecturer and lutenist.  After completing his BA in History at UCL in 2010, he held the position of Head of Historical Interpretation (curator) at Warwick Castle. He left the castle in 2013 after winning a full Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship to pursue a Master’s Degree in Fine and Decorative Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. In December 2014 he became the youngest Guide Lecturer at the Wallace Collection, where he regularly gives talks, tours and lectures to both public and professional audiences. Alongside his primary specialism in British and Old Master Paintings, Adam is especially interested in the history and collection of the Earls of Warwick and is currently working on his doctorate at the University of Warwick.


Tuesday 17 April 2018

Romanticism and Landscape Painting

William Vaughan

The early nineteenth century was one of the great ages of landscape painting in Western Europe, with major practitioners like Turner and Constable in Britain and Caspar David Friedrich in Germany. This talk will explore the work of such artists and consider the extent to which the new approaches they developed can be related to the wider cultural movement of the period that is commonly known as Romanticism.

William Vaughan studied at the Ruskin School of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has been a Curator at Tate Britain (1968-72), and Reader and Professor at London University (UCL and Birkbeck) (1972–2003). He has published over 20 books, including Romanticism and Art (Thames and Hudson) and Samuel Palmer: Shadows on the Wall (Yale). He has organised numerous exhibitions, including Caspar David Friedrich (1972, Tate) and Samuel Palmer (2005, British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY). He has been a trustee of the Art Fund, and a Senior Research Fellow at Tate Britain. He is a Fellow of Birkbeck College.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Legendary Porcelain Collectors:  Princes, Power and a Passion for Fragile Beauty

Anne Haworth

This lecture was inspired by a memorable journey to Leipzig in December 1991, when, as a Christie’s porcelain specialist, Anne was asked to appraise some treasured Meissen porcelain vases and figures which had been hidden by their owners for many years.  Anne has never forgotten the experience of visiting these residents of Leipzig after the Fall of the Berlin Wall.  Like the fictional ‘Utz’ of Prague in Bruce Chatwin’s novel of the same name, they had a true passion for porcelain.  The lecture begins with the 1710 invention of porcelain at Meissen, close to Leipzig, under the patronage of Augustus the Strong, the self-styled sufferer of ‘la maladie de porcelaine’ and concludes with the sophisticated, wealthy and discerning porcelain collectors living in Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden, who fell victim to the seismic political events of the 1930s and 40s.  During the course of the lecture/study day, we will meet others, separated by time and space, who were united by an obsession for the delicate beauty and translucent fragility of porcelain and a desire to have and to hold.  Some, like Madame de Pompadour, the patron of Sèvres, regarded the possession of porcelain as a symbol of power and status.  Her taste for sumptuous porcelain was shared by George, the Prince Regent, Edward ‘Beau’ Lascelles, whose collection is still at Harewood House, the Rothschilds - including Baron Ferdinand at Waddesdon Manor, John Jones, a Victorian tailor and businessman who donated his collection to the V&A and American captains of industry including Henry Ford II and Mrs Charles Wrightsman, patron of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, who furnished their grand houses in ‘le goût Rothschild’.

Anne Haworth lectures regularly at the Victoria and Albert Museum and is a tutor for American undergraduates studying the history of art in London.  For 10 years she guided private evening tours of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and still lectures at the Queen’s Gallery.  She is a visiting lecturer at The British Museum and has lectured for Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, SOAS, Christie’s Education and Sotheby’s Institute.  From 1981 to 1995 she was a specialist in European and Asian ceramics at the head offices of first Bonham’s and then Christie’s, where she became senior specialist in European ceramics in Britain and Europe.  From 1995 to 2002 she was resident in Shanghai, China, where she gave lectures to the international community of diplomats and expatriates.  On returning to London in 2002 she worked on a short project cataloguing Chinese ceramics at Kensington Palace.


Tuesday 19 June 2018

The Cultural Heritage of the Hugenots

Sue Jackson

The Huguenots came to England in huge numbers in the late 17th century bringing a wide variety of skills - as silk weavers, silversmiths, clock makers, opticians, bankers, gilders, ironworkers, horticulturists etc. Names such as Paul de Lamerie, Samuel Courtauld and Jean Tijou spring to mind. In virtually all areas, they were innovators and more advanced than the English who were forced to improve their own skills or go out of business. Although the majority settled in London, others found their way to East Anglia, Macclesfield and Canterbury. This talk examines their lasting legacy. 

Sue Jackson originally worked in art and design publishing (Phaidon and Yale University Press). She now lectures for the National Trust, U3A, and the City Literary Institute. A qualified Blue Badge Guide, she gives guided walks on various themes and has published work on the lost world of the River Fleet.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Treason, Triangles and Thomas Tresham – the symbolic architecture of a closet Catholic

Sarah Pearson, BA, MA, PhD

Thomas Tresham was the father of Francis Tresham, who was one of the gunpowder plotters, and like his son Thomas was a Catholic at a time when persecution by the Protestant authorities was commonplace.  Rather than resorting to gunpowder, however, Thomas Tresham expressed his Catholic faith in the design and decoration of two buildings, Triangular Lodge and Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire.  Every aspect of these buildings, from their shape and proportions to their window design and exterior decoration, is a secret expression of the Catholic faith whilst Triangular Lodge also bears cryptic inscriptions, some of which have yet to be decoded.  This lecture will examine both buildings, detailing their history and their remarkable designs.

Sarah Pearson holds a First Class BA in Art History from Reading University, an MA in World Art Studies from the University of East Anglia and a PhD in Architectural History, also from Reading.  She lectured for 10 years at Reading and at the University of East Anglia, and now works as a freelance lecturer and adult education provider.  She has published articles and a book chapter on the architect Francesco di Giorgio and is currently researching the development of the Riddlesworth estate with a view to future publication.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

A Pilgrimage to St Catherine’s Monastery:  exploring the treasures of this UNESCO World Heritage site

Helen Rufus-Ward, BA, MA, PhD

St Catherine’s Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai, Egypt was founded in the sixth century by Byzantine emperor Justinian I - the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments, the location of the legend of the Burning Bush and the resting place of the martyred body of St Catherine. The Greek Orthodox monastery is packed full of precious religious art – a splendid basilica with exquisite little chapels, intricately carved wooden doors and breathtaking mosaics, an amazing collection of the rarest early icons to survive, and a library of rare and beautiful religious manuscripts. 

Helen Rufus-Ward is an Art Historian with a BA, MA and a doctorate from the University of Sussex, who has published on Late Antique and Byzantine ivory carvings and 19th century plaster cast collecting. Since 2007 she has worked at Sussex as an associate tutor delivering regular lectures. She is an experienced speaker, who has delivered lectures at many universities and art institutions, such as the Wallace Collection and the Society of Antiquaries of London.


Tuesday 20 November 2018

Messenger or Missile – Angels with glad tidings, doom, gloom or perdition?

Caroline Holmes

Angels, familiar and fantastic, playing major and minor roles, can be seen in centuries of paintings, engravings, illustrations and sculptures. Archangel Gabriel and the Annunciation or Archangel Michael fighting the good fight. Angelic references also abound in Islamic and Jewish traditions, the latter beautifully evoked in Chagall’s Bible Message. Time to contrast the beauty and light of cherubim and seraphim with the dark, fiery abyss of Satan and contemplate the Angel of the North.

Caroline Holmes has lectured in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe and Japan, and in 2017 returns to The Arts Society in New Zealand. She lectures for the University of Cambridge ICE (Course Director for International Summer Programme), the Royal Horticultural Society, museums, travel companies and Clio Voyages for francophones. She is a consultant designer specialising in evoking historic, artistic and symbolic references and is the author of 11 books, including Water Lilies and Bory Latour-Marliac, the genius behind Monet’s water lilies;  Impressionists in their Gardens;  Follies of Europe: Architectural Extravaganzas;  Monet at Giverny and Icons of Garden Design.  She has also been involved in theatre productions:  How does your garden grow Mr Shakespeare and Impressionists in their Gardens: living light and colour.  She is a presenter and contributor on television and BBC Radio 4, 2017 recipient of the Herb Society of America ‘Elizabeth Crisp Rea Award’


Tuesday 18 December 2018

Opera and Design

Simon Rees, BA, MA

Opera is an elaborate, even extravagant, art form. From its earliest times at the beginning of the 17th century, up to the present day, it has employed artists and architects to design sets and costumes, and has used the richest materials and effects, often by means of tromp-l’oeil and other forms of visual trickery. Simon Rees traces the arts associated with opera through surviving drawings, paintings, early theatres and their scenery, up to the present day, where such artists as John Piper, Sidney Nolan and David Hockney have thrived as theatre designers. Simon draws on his own experience as Welsh National Opera’s Dramaturg from 1989-2012 in delivering this detailed and entertaining account.

Simon Rees studied at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, receiving a BA and an MA in English Literature.  He taught in Italy and Japan, exploring the art and architecture of both countries.  From 1989 to 2012 was Dramaturg at Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, working with set, costume and props designers and giving lectures on their work in opera production. Now a freelance writer and lecturer, he lectures widely on opera, art history and literature, travelling extensively with travel companies. He has published several novels, including the award-winning The Devil's Looking-Glass, poems and opera librettos.


Tuesday 15 January 2019

The Glorious Dead:  Grief and Politics in the Memorials to the Great War

Max Jones

Nearly all the six million Britons who served in the armed forces endured the Great War to the end. For one in eight, the end meant death. The legions of the bereaved launched a wave of commemorative projects, erecting thousands of war memorials, which still mark the landscape of countryside and city today. This lecture will look more closely at the myriad forms and functions taken by these memorials.  We will see how artists developed new strategies to represent loss on an unprecedented scale, how bitter disputes  - often between protagonists for useful works and champions of artistic quality  - scarred many commemorative projects, and how memorials helped families grieve for those they had lost.

Formerly a Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Christ's College, Cambridge, Max Jones now teaches at the University of Manchester and is a recent winner of the university’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ award. He specialises in the cultural history of war and heroism, and is currently writing a new history of British heroes.  Public lecturing is Max’s passion.  Alongside lectures at Manchester and other universities, he has spoken about his research to public audiences throughout the UK and beyond, from the Isles of Scilly to Hobart, Tasmania.