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Programme of Lectures 2019-2020

NEXT LECTURE

18th September 2019
Lecturer: Caroline Shenton
Barry’s War: rebuilding Parliament after its destruction by fire.      
The Houses of Parliament is one of the most celebrated buildings in the world. The site had been the centre of power and government in England from the earliest times. It was a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and a spectacular feat of civil engineering; but a battleground for its architect, Charles Barry. He had to fend off the interference of MPs, royalty and a host of crackpot inventors and busybodies, while sustaining the allegiance of his partner Pugin. The project came in three times over budget and twenty-four years behind schedule.



PROGRAMME for 2019-20

18 September 2019
Lecturer: Caroline Shenton
MR BARRY’S WAR: REBUILDING THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
The Houses of Parliament is one of the most celebrated buildings in the world. The site had been the centre of power and government in England from the earliest times. It was a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and a spectacular feat of civil engineering; but a battleground for its architect, Charles Barry. He had to fend off the interference of MPs, royalty and a host of crackpot inventors and busybodies, while sustaining the allegiance of his partner Pugin. The project came in three times over budget and twenty-four years behind schedule.

16 October 2019
Lecturer: Dr Paul Roberts
LAST SUPPER IN POMPEI
The Romans had a love affair with food and drink. We’ll go with them on a journey from fields and vineyards to markets and shops, from tables to toilets and the tomb. We glimpse fertile Vesuvius, the source of their feasts. Then in a house in the bustling city we enjoy exotic food and fine wine, surrounded by the Greek-style luxuries of silverware, mosaics and frescoes. Should we enter the kitchen, the toilet ... ? Let’s escape to Roman Britain to meet the first brewer, cooper, and even pub landlord – and to see monuments of the dead feasting on into the afterlife.

20 November 2019
Lecturer: Ian Gledhill
THE MAGIC OF PANTOMIME

We look at the history of this enduring and peculiarly British institution, from its origins in 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte through the influence of 19th century music hall, to the family shows that are still loved today. On the way we examine the origins of some of the stories used in pantomime as well as such traditions as the (female) principal boy and the (male) pantomime dame. The talk is interspersed with personal anecdotes from the speaker’s years of working (and appearing) professionally in pantomime.

15 January 2020
Lecturer: Timothy Walker
HISTORY OF GARDEN DESIGN THROUGH THE LENS OF THE OXFORD BOTANIC GARDENS
The history of English garden design can be told in different ways, but rarely "through the lens" of one garden.  The Oxford Botanic Garden was founded at the start of the 17th century and bears all the hallmarks of the period. Through the next 400 years successive Horti Praefecti (head gardeners) altered its features to reflect new styles or the changing science of botany. We look at how the art of gardening has changed, or perhaps has not, in four centuries, and how the Oxford Botanic Garden now reflects garden design at the beginning of the 21st century. 

19 February 2020
Lecturer: Dr Angela Smith
ELEANOR COADE AND HER STONE
Coade is an artificial stone that was invented in the 18th century. It was widely used for freestanding statuary and monuments, architectural detailing and even garden furniture. Hundreds of examples can be seen across Britain. The stone was named after Eleanor Coade, who ran a successful manufactory in south London for many years. This lecture tells the story of Mrs Coade and the stone that made her one of the most successful businesswomen in the late 1700s.

18 March 2020
Lecturer: Janet Gough
CATHEDRALS: SAFE PLACES TO DO RISKY THINGS?
This talk provides an overview of the Church of England's magnificent 42 cathedrals, jewels in the crown of England's built heritage, some recognised as World Heritage Sites. It looks at the history, stories, treasures and evolving architecture of these places of worship, and is beautifully illustrated by Country Life photographer Paul Barker. It considers the role of cathedrals over the centuries and specifically their role today and their possible future.

15 April 2020
Lecturer: Lucy Hughes-Hallett
CLEOPATRA: THE MOST WOMANLY OF WOMEN AND THE MOST QUEENLY OF QUEENS
Cleopatra, for whom Antony is imagined to have given up the chance to rule the Roman world, has been inspiring painters, poets and film-makers for over two millennia. Their voluptuous depictions of her show the changing concepts of beauty, and the racial and sexual assumptions underlying them.  Images range from Roman to Renaissance to 20th century film stars such as Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and the Carry On team’s Amanda Barry. Cleopatra became a screen onto which artists have projected their exotic and erotic fantasies.

20 May 2020
Lecturer: Barry Venning
“WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS”: THE BEATLES AND THEIR ARTISTS
Let’s follow the Beatles through the 60s in music and images, from the Hamburg Reeperbahn in 1960 to Abbey Road in 1969. The band valued the visual arts and quickly learned the promotional potential of artists and designers. Their rise to global fame was aided and recorded by an impressive roster of photographers, including Astrid Kirchherr and Linda McCartney, while the innovative covers for releases such as Rubber Soul (Bob Freeman) and Sgt Pepper (Peter Blake & Jann Haworth) turned album design into an art form.  

17 June 2020
Lecturer: Alexandra Epps
PEGGY GUGGENHIEM
She was the ‘poor little rich girl' who changed the face of twentieth century art. Peggy Guggenheim helped define modern art through a new generation of artists producing a new kind of art. In collecting not only art but the artists themselves, her life was as radical as her collection. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in her beautiful former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice, is among the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century. 

15th July 2020
AGM at 7.45 followed by
Lecturer: Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe
FIRST CATCH A SQUIRREL: HISTORICAL MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES OF PAINTING IN THE 15TH – 18TH CENTURIES
The 14th century artist Cennino Cennini recommended using “the chicken bones that you will find under the dining table” for making charcoaled bone black to paint with. His treatise, The Artists’ handbook, describes some of the surprising materials artists had to master, such as the tail of a squirrel to make paintbrushes. These difficult materials influenced the appearance of paintings long before industrial processes changed the artist’s world. This lecture will explain why 15th and 16th century paintings may seem odd to our modern eyes. .

16 September 2020
Lecturer: John Vigar
A CHIP OFF QUEEN VICTORIA’S BLOCK? PRINCE VICTOR GLEICHEN AND HIS ARTIST CHILDREN
Victoria`s mother, the Duchess of Kent, had already been married and widowed before her wedding to a son of George III. Her daughter Feodora by her first husband came to London when her mother remarried, and at Kensington Palace married the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Their son, Queen Victoria`s nephew, was Prince Victor Gleichen. After distinguished service in the British Navy he took up sculpture, quickly becoming the Victorian sculptor of choice. His work may be found throughout Britain, most prominently in the Royal Collection.