Lecture Archive 2018 – 2019


Please find our current list of lectures below:
2018 – 2019        . Lecture                                                                                                         Lecturer
Sep.12th 2018 A Load of Old Balls.According to historian Barbara Tuchman, the invention of the ball ranks as highly as the invention of the wheel. Simon Inglis agrees, especially after spending years delving into cubbyholes at pavilions and museums, in workshops and factories, finding out how these apparently simple objects came into being and how their design and manufacture has evolved. He asks, “Why are marbles glass? Why did the discovery of gutta percha transform golf? Why were games such as lawn tennis and ping pong made possible only in the mid 19th century? Why did some billiard balls explode, and why are rugby balls such an odd shape?” In 1853 the ingredients of one manufacturer’s cricket balls were listed as cork, worsted, hemp, brown oats, suet, lard, alum, stale ale and dragon’s blood. Can this really be true, or is it, perhaps, just a load of old balls?

Note: Simon will bring along examples of old balls for passing round.

Writer and historian Simon Inglis specialises in the architecture and heritage of sport and recreation. Since 2004 he has edited the Played in Britain series for English Heritage. Although sport and recreation might seem an unlikely subject for The Arts Society, non-sporty types need have no fear. Simon’s themes are architecture, design, heritage and popular culture. After a history degree at University College London, he freelanced for various publications, including the Guardian, Observer and Radio Times. He has curated exhibitions for the Building Centre and the British Council, been a regular contributor to radio and television, has travelled and lectured extensively, and written a number of books. Two were shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, while another, on British football grounds, was chosen by journalist Frank Keating as the best sports book of the 20th century. A recent highpoint in his work for English Heritage was the listing of a 1970s skatepark in Essex, a world first that made the 10 o’clock news

Simon Inglis
Oct.10th 2018 Conceptual Art.At the start of the twentieth century, the dawn of modern art still saw artists mostly painting in oil paints or watercolours on canvas, and sculpting in plaster, bronze, marble or wood. What was painted or sculpted was often readily recognizable. By the end of the century, it seemed that art could be made from anything,  and be displayed anyhow, with the idea behind an artwork being more important than its look. This lecture will explore what brought about this dramatic change, and how Conceptual Art may be understood and appreciated with reference to major pieces from this genre including works by Tracey Emin, Anthony Gormley and Damian Hirst. This lecture will be jargon-free with audience engagement, backed by high quality slides.
The image above was sent by the Ray as an example of Conceptual Art. Puzzled? All will be revealed at the lecture.

Ray Warburton has studied art history at the Open University and the University of Buckingham. A Guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, he leads public tours of all the permanent displays and also undertakes exhibition tours. He is an experienced public speaker who has given presentations and lectures on a range of themes to diverse audiences over many years.

Ray Warburton
Nov.14th 2018 The Magnificent Maya – Fact & Fantasy.The Maya created one of the most sophisticated civilizations in the ancient world.  Their achievements in the arts and sciences, along with their complex social, political and economic systems, make them one of the most remarkable culture groups in the Precolumbian Americas. These people brought us an intricate calendar system, complex hieroglyphic writing, some of the largest pyramids in the world, a form of ballgame that was like no other and most importantly chocolate! This lecture will discuss the major achievements of the Maya as well as pointing out the common misunderstandings we have of this remarkable civilization.

Dr Diane Davies is a Maya archaeologist and honorary research associate of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She completed her PhD at Tulane University, New Orleans. Little is known about the Maya in the UK and so aside from carrying out research in Guatemala and teaching, Diane is an educational consultant for schools giving workshops to both teachers and children on the Maya. She has created award-winning resources, organizes trips to the Maya area and is also the Chair of Chok Education, a charity supporting the education of Maya children. Diane organises conferences on the Maya as well as lecturing to a variety of organisations, including the City Literary Institute, London and the Historical Association.

Diane Davies
Dec.12th 2018 Sing We Yule.Using illustrations from illuminated manuscripts, readings from literature and contemporary accounts, and the haunting songs and lively dance tunes of medieval England, Sarah brings alive the spirit of a Medieval Christmas, a time of joy and celebration for some, but hardship and suffering for others. With extracts from literature and manorial household accounts, she pieces together life in a medieval manor house at Yuletide. In addition to her reproduction medieval harps, she adds the plucked psaltery, hurdy-gurdy, hammered dulcimer, and gemshorn to the musical mix, performing carols, music and readings for an atmospheric and musical seasonal celebration.

Sarah Deere-Jones is a graduate and prize-winner from the Royal Academy of Music and in 2015 was elected an Associate. She performs, writes and lectures about the harp regularly in America, Australia, Europe and UK. All lectures are presented digitally and include live music and songs on harps and other instruments depending on subject matter. 

Sarah Deere-Jones
Jan.9th 2019 A Decorative Art – the History of Wallpapers.
Wallpaper is often regarded as the Cinderella of the Decorative Arts – the most ephemeral and least precious of the decorations produced for the home. Yet, the history of wallpaper is a long and fascinating subject that dates back to the 16th century and encompasses a huge range of beautiful patterns created both by anonymous hands and by some of the best-known designers of the 19th and 20th centuries. This lecture explores the history and development of this product from earliest times up to the present day. It includes a discussion of the changing ways in which wallpaper was made and a survey of designs from the first black and white patterns, the creation of elegant flock hangings, the fashion for Chinese hand-painted papers, the introduction of machine-printing, the designs of Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, and the taste for Modernist and Contemporary designs in the 20th century. It also includes a discussion of the ways that wallpapers were used within grand and more ordinary homes and hopes to justify the claim that they were indeed a truly Decorative Art.

Jo Banham is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer. From 2006-2016 she was Head of Adult Learning at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and before that Head of Learning and Access at the National Portrait Gallery, and Head of Public Programmes at Tate Britain. She has also been Curator of Leighton House and Assistant Keeper at the Whitworth Art Gallery. She has published on many aspects of Victorian and early 20th century decoration and interiors. She is currently curating an exhibition on William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement for the Juan March Fundacion in Madrid and the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya in Barcelona. She is also Director of the Victorian Society Summer School.

Wallpapers further reading

Jo Banham
Feb.13th 2019 Antony Gormley – a Body of Work.Antony Gormley’s career spans nearly 40 years, during which time he has made sculpture that explores the relationship of the human body to space, often using his own body as his starting point.  His work has been shown throughout the world, in galleries including the Tate in London and the Hermitage in St Petersburg, but is also often on open display, as public art, such as Another Place at Crosby Beach, near Liverpool. As well as works that he is well known for, like the iconic Angel of the North, this lecture will look at some of his earlier and less well-known works, to give an overall view of the development of his work across his whole career, up to the present time.

Rosalind Whyte has a BA and MA from Goldsmith’s College, and an MA (distinction) from Birkbeck College. She is an experienced guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Royal Academy and Greenwich and  lectures at Tate, Dulwich Picture Gallery, to independent art societies and on cruises. She also leads art appreciation holidays.

Rosalind Whyte
Mar.13th 2019 The Very Model of an English Entertainer.
Gilbert & Sullivan and their Savoy Operas.

This lecture will examine how the peculiar geniuses of these two very different men, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, came together under the guiding hand of the impresario, Richard D’Oyly Carte, to create one of the most individual and enduring forms of theatrical entertainment.  The Savoy operas, with their gentle satire, celebrate the quirks and foibles of the British nation, and are as alive today as in the 1880’s. The lecture is fully illustrated with musical examples.

Roger was a chorister at Wells Cathedral School and a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with an honours degree in English.  He combined a teaching career with professional singing in London, and after obtaining a further degree in Music became Director of Music at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in Edinburgh. After retiring in 2003 he returned to the south of England.  He is President Emeritus of The Stoke Poges Society and Chairman of Windsor and Maidenhead Decorative and Fine Arts Society.

Roger Askew
Apr.10th 2019 The Silver Thread.From the early Kosovan silver mines which are mentioned in Dante, through the twentieth century politics over Kosovo’s mines which resulted in both a war and a golf course, a silver thread winds through Kosovo’s history. Its most intricate tanglings are in the country’s cultural capital, Prizren, where a seventh generation of filigree artisans use ‘filum’ and ‘granum’, zigzags, ‘mouse-tooth’ designs and other twists and turns to magic lacy creations from dull sticks of raw material. The results – in boxes, buttons, jewellery, religious ornamentation and the talismans of superstitition – are a fine narrative of Kosovo’s history and traditions.

Elizabeth Gowan studied at Magdalen College Oxford before training as a teacher and working in Lambeth, Hackney and Islington. She moved to Kosovo in 2006 and there worked with the Ethnological Museum in Prishtina and co-founded ‘The Ideas Partnership’, a charity working on education and cultural heritage projects. She speaks fluent Albanian and has translated two books (the unauthorized biography of Yugoslavia’s longest-held political prisoner, Adem Demaci, and the memoirs of one of the leaders of the 1912 uprising). Elizabeth is also the author of four books about Kosovo – Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo (2011), Edith and I; on the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo(2013); The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (2015) and The Silver Thread; a journey through Balkan craftmanship (2017). Regular contributor to Radio 4 (Saturday Live, Excess Baggage, From Our Own Correspondent) and the BBC World Service.

Elizabeth Gowing
May.8th 2019 Cultural Experiments in the Weimar Republic.After World War I, artists and architects were in a state of flux, just like the world they inhabited. How could they create and what, indeed, would they produce in a Europe still reeling from the worst conflict ever known? Yet out of crisis came a truly stimulating period of artistic endeavour. Contemplating painters such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and Christian Schad, alongside the experiments of the Bauhaus, new film technologies and the sultry stylings of Marlene Dietrich, this talk looks at the culture of German-speaking Europe during the interwar years.

Some videos linking to this lecture are below.


20:00 – Film 1: Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis (11:50) – https://youtu.be/W0MQ0DZCf5Y
20:15 – Film 2: The Sound of Change (14:34) – https://youtu.be/Jm_Yiuv90pY
20:30 – Film 3: The City Electric (13:51) – https://youtu.be/4bijkv7Aur0
20:45 – Film 4: Detachment and Design (13:41) – https://youtu.be/726zw6Sic70
21:00 – Film 5: Weimar on Stage and Screen (11:51) – https://youtu.be/oth8UnWzMvA
21:15 – Film 6: The Party’s Over (14:12) – https://youtu.be/rgH9P8FJBGs

Gavin Plumley is a writer and broadcaster, appearing on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and contributing to The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. He lectures widely about the culture of Central Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries, including to the National Gallery, the British Museum, the V&A, the Southbank Centre, the Tate and the Neue Galerie, New York, as well as for history of art societies and The Art Fund. 


Gavin Plumley
Jun.12th 2019 The GPO Film Unit -the Birth of Documentary Films.
This is the fascinating story of how documentary films started from the latter days of silent movies. Film was still at very much an experimental stage and we will look at the Soviet influence with Battleship Potemkin to the formation of the GPO Film Unit by John Grierson in the 1930s. The lecture features clips from films like Coalface, Spare Time and of course, Night Mail, the classic film featuring the poetry of W H Auden and music by Benjamin Britten. The influence of the GPO Film Unit was extraordinary and exciting over its ten year life. Many of the team joined the Crown Film Unit or went on to production companies like Ealing Studios to use their innovative skills and techniques in feature films.

Howard was born during the Second World War, educated in Scotland and Trinity College, Dublin (MA). He started working in leading UK and international advertising agencies in the late 1960s, working on blue chip accounts. In the 1980s he set up his own marketing and print company in Canterbury, where he specialised in local history and the arts. As an all round graphic designer, he became an arts stakeholder and lectured on creating for print to graduates and post-graduates. In 1998 he co-authored and designed The Rupert Bear Dossier for Hawk books, which has become a bible for Rupert fans. He has lectured to the Followers of Rupert at their convention in Warwick. 
In 2000 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Dan Dare and Eagle, he set up a small exhibition in Whitstable, which soon attracted national interest. For the next three years his exhibition grew to 2000sq ft and toured 13 venues including Manchester Science Museum, Ferens Art Gallery, Bristol Art Gallery and The Cartoon Art Trust, London. During this period the exhibition broke all attendance figures. He gave many talks on aspects of Eagle, Dan Dare and the art of Frank Hampson which he still gives today and is part of his presentations to The Arts Society.
Following his retirement in 2014, he has recently had a two month Dan Dare exhibition in Herne Bay, which spurred him on to seek accreditation with The Arts Society with his unique graphic arts take on two of the most iconic illustrated strips in children’s publishing.