2017 – 2018        .Lecture                                                                                                        

Sep.13th 2017

Glorious Things: Discovering Byzantium through its Art.

Inspired by the Royal Academy’s 2008/2009 ‘Byzantium Exhibition’ this lecture will reveal the diverse richness of the decorative arts of Byzantium. The aim is to trace the fascinating story of the Byzantine Empire, which flourished for over a thousand years, through the art of the period. Mosaics, ivory carvings, enamels, holy relics, silverware and icons are just some of the ‘wonderful things’ to be examined and discussed. Along the way the audience will encounter all manner of characters from emperors, empresses, Roman matrons, virgins and whores through a variety of art works from fourth-century buried treasure to tenth-century ‘porn’ – all with the ability to bring this colourful world back to life.

Helen Rufus-Ward. BA. MA .DPhil Art Historian


Oct.11th 2017

The Gleaming Spires of London.

An armchair tour of London’s finest buildings.
London boasts an extraordinary range of architecture and the city’s rich legacy and social history can be discovered through its buildings. Starting at the Norman Conquest and the White Tower and finishing over 900 years later at the cutting edge with The Shard, The Walkie-Talkie, and The Cheesegrater this talk reveals the evolution of London through its architecture. We’ll explore public buildings, churches, commercial developments and some surprising residences.

Ian Swankie. City of London guide, official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guidhall and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Nov.8th 2017

Inspired by Stonehenge.

How this prehistoric circle has inspired painters, potters and poets. Stonehenge is unique, a national treasure and a global icon. In this talk Julian examines its sophisticated architecture-the product of stone tools, determination, organisation and strongly held beliefs. Perceptions and understanding of the monument have changed over the years from the magic and the Druids of the Middle Ages to the archaeological science of today.

Julian Richards. BA. FSA. is an archaeologist who ran the Stonehenge Environs Project, a detailed study of Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape. This gave him his first experience of the media, where he contributed parts to programmes about Stonehenge. He was asked to contribute to a TV programme about the construction of Stonehenge. His ideas led eventually to the programmes “Meet the Ancestors” and “Blood of the Vikings”. In addition, he has written books to accompany both series.

Dec.13th 2017

Puppets, Piers and Pantomimes – 40 Years in Show-business.

A light-hearted account of a working life in theatre.

Allan Stockwell. Member of the Society for Theatre Research and the Irving Society.

Jan.10th 2018

Red Vibrations: the Aesthetic and Emotional Significance of Red in Western Art from Angelic Pink to Demonic Scarlet.

Colours are radiant energies that affect us positively and negatively, and red is the most forceful of all. Its range of expression is extreme, from demonic scarlet to angelic pink. Pure red is the colour of passion. This is because of its association with blood and fire. When we fall in love our blood is on fire! Like blood and fire, passion can be both creative and destructive. We will look at the way artists have used red to express these opposing energies. Some artists use red for purely aesthetic reasons, typically done to draw attention to a small detail, other times red is used to express emotion or to symbolise social status or a religious idea such as Christ wearing red to symbolise his sacrifice. The history of red pigments is explored in conjunction with the analyses of paintings formal qualities.

Alexandra Drysdale. BA. MFA Art historian and professional artist.

Feb.14th 2018

The Lure of Ivory.

Ivory has been carved for 40,000 years. It has been used by cultures worldwide, funded wars and been connected to the slave trade. Today most ivory-bearing animals are threatened by extinction. The lecture looks at some of the uses of ivory around the globe, and why mankind has always been so entranced by the material and held it in such high esteem. We will also be told how to recognise ivories from different species (for example elephant, walrus and whale), and their imitations, the most common of which is bone. There will be information on the many current trade bans.

Maggie Campbell-Pederson is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and an Associate of the British Institute of Professional Photography. Her work includes identification of organic gem materials, teaching, writing, and research. She gives lectures and seminars for specialist groups, for example gemmologists, museum curators and conservators, in the UK and abroad.


Mar.14th 2018

Great Dixter – Past Present and Future.

Great Dixter was the family home of renowned gardener and garden writer Christopher Lloyd. Fergus’ talk touches on the history of the house and garden and looks forward to the future of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.

Fergus Garrett. Head Gardener.

Apr.11th 2018

Bronzes of Ife and Benin and an Historical View of Art & Sculpture in Nigeria.

Africa is not generally associated with great art but Nigeria is associated with 3 major artistic traditions; the 2,000 year old Nok terracottas of the north, the Bronzes of Ife from the C12-C15 and the later Benin Bronzes. Richard lived in Nigeria in the 1960s, near Ife, and became familiar with the art of Ife and Benin and the role they played in society. The art, the technology (using the lost wax process) and the cultural relevance of the Bronzes will be illustrated and discussed in the lecture.

Dr Richard Thomas BSc. MA. PhD completed an MA in Canada in Development Studies, and a PhD from Trinity College, Dublin in History and Political Science. His career as an academic and as a political and institutional analyst in the field of International Development enabled him to travel widely in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He always sought to understand the arts and culture of the country or region he was living or working in since they illuminate the past and help to explain the present. Some of his lectures (Cobbett,Gillray and Hadrian) began with the history but have been developed for The Arts Society by emphasising the culture and art, architecture and cartoons of the period. 

May.9th 2018

Secret Art in the Passport – How we use it to foil the forger.

From the wax seal to the microchip, man has exploited the skill of the artist and artisan in his attempt to manufacture a forgery-proof document. Taking you through three centuries of passport design, this lecture explains the overt and uncovers the covert to illustrate the defences built in to the passport and the tricks the forger uses to defeat them. You will never see your passport in the same light again!

Martin Lloyd. Lecturer and broadcaster, has been lecturing to various groups, including U3A, National Trust, historical societies, Gresham College and business groups since 2008. Previously worked for HM Immigration Service, and has broadcast on local and national television and radio.

Jun.13th 2018Lee_Miller

Picasso, Man Ray and Max Ernst through the Eyes of Lee Miller and Roland Penrose.     AGM 2.00pm
A personal profile of giant figures in 20th century art.

Picasso, Man Ray and Max Ernst were three of the key artists of the 20th century. They were also close friends of the Surrealist photographer Lee Miller and the Surrealist artist Roland Penrose. This is the hidden story of a unique friendship which spanned the Surrealist movement and the last 30 years of Picasso’s life. It is told by Antony Penrose, the son of Lee Miller and Roland who visited the artists in their homes and recalls when they came to the Penrose family home of Farley Farm House in Sussex. It is told using the words and images of the artists and those around them with extensive us of photographs by Lee Miller.

Antony Penrose. Director of the Lee Miller Archives and the Penrose Collection.
For the past 30 years Antony Penrose has conserved and disseminated the work of his parents, Lee Miller and Roland Penrose. He is the director of The Lee Miller Archives and The Penrose Collection at Farley Farm House in Sussex and has seen his parents’ work featured in major exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Whitworth. He has lectured at museums and universities around the world, and made documentaries for television. Publications include The Lives of Lee Miller, Lee Miller’s War (editor), The Angel and the Fiend, The Home of the Surrealists, Roland Penrose the Friendly Surrealist and The Boy Who Bit Picasso.