Our 2015-2016 Lecture Programme
Below is a list of lectures and a brief synopsis of each. You can download a Printable Copy of the lecture programme.
4 September 2015
This is Wren: the Classical, the Baroque and the City of London Churches
This lecture analysed Wren’s life and his career as a scientist, astronomer and architect. It featured all his buildings in London, Oxford and Cambridge before focusing on his City of London churches.
In addition to photographs of most of Wren’s buildings, the lecture included original research into the work of architects in Rome and Paris, which influenced Wren and provided much of his inspiration.
9 October 2015
Photography as a Fine Art
Should we accept that the very best photographs can be regarded as Fine Art?
This question was at the heart of a lecture which argued that photography can equal, not to say exceed, more traditional disciplines in the key genres of portraiture, landscape and still life.
Photography, moreover, has carved its own area of excellence in depicting the human condition. All these ideas were discussed with reference to the work of some of the acknowledged masters of photography, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fay Godwin, Bill Brandt, Ansel Adams and Wolfgang Tillmans.
13 November 2015
The Painted Church: Seeing and Understanding Medieval Wall Paintings
Before the Reformation the walls of cathedrals and churches were lavishly painted with decorative patterns and figurative imagery depicting biblical stories, the miracles of Saints, Last Judgement themes and a range of other subjects; these include Christian pieties and warnings against sins and transgressions.
This richly illustrated lecture explained the history of these paintings and their meaning, the subjects they showed, how they were painted and by whom. Style, inspirations, techniques and pigments are among the aspects discussed. It concluded with a description of modern conservation methods.
11 December 2015
A Question of Provenance: Researching at a Commercial Gallery
Please Note that this was a change of Lecturer and Lecture from that advertised on the Programme Card
Viv Hendra researches the history of paintings in his commercial gallery. Old wills and documents bring portraits alive with tales of adventure or romance.
A telephone call finds scattered relatives who do not know they all have paintings from the same set.
A landscape sketch reveals a pivotal moment in modern art history. A chance conversation leads to the rediscovery of an important artist and reunites a family lost for a century over three continents.
Here were intriguing and entertaining stories - perhaps they even inspired the would-be researcher.
8 January 2016
David Hockney and the Theatre
Dr Peter Webb
During the last century Hockney became dissatisfied with his paintings but he was rejuvenated by an invitation from Glyndebourne to design its production of Stravinsky’s “ A Rake’s Progress”.
The success of this venture led to many other such invitations. This lecture examined his designs for eleven operas and ballets, from Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Puccini’s “Turandot”.
Music was included with this lecture.
12 February 2016
Thomas Heatherwick: “The Leonardo da Vinci of our times” (Sir Terence Conran)
In 2004 Thomas Heatherwick was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry; in 2010 he won a Gold Medal for his British Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo and was designer of the year in Japan.
His work received world-wide coverage in 2012 when he designed the Olympic Cauldron at the London Olympics; the giant ring of fire rising up from the centre of the Olympic Stadium was a memorable sight. In the lecture we looked at how he achieved that spectacular moment.
Heatherwick and his studio team have also designed the new red London bus, the first new design of such an iconic symbol of London for 50 years. His approach is multi-disciplinary; with his team, he blends architecture, sculpture and engineering to produce brilliant results, from large urban spaces to individual items such as his Zip Bag for the French firm Longchamp and his proposed Garden Bridge across the River Thames.
The lecture highlighted the broad range of his imaginative designs.
11 March 2016
Tales of a Mysterious Land: Landscapes, Legends and Archaeology of Ethiopia
Ethiopia is steeped in history and legend, inhabited by demons and local spirits. Its people live in great hardship but retain a spirituality that is truly biblical and timeless. Their ancient history is populated by evocative names - the Queen of Sheba once ruled over large tracts of Northern Ethiopia.
As well as describing the ancient history, art, archaeology, legends and landscapes of Ethiopia, Louise Schofield also recounted her own adventures from living there in a tent. Her archaeological activity included finding the entrance to the Queen of Sheba's gold mine.
8 April 2016
Stylish Times- Art Deco Design and Buildings Decoration
Art Deco architecture from the 1920s and 30s has a style and appeal that is immediately recognisable and distinctive. By then, precision machining could produce perfect straight lines and curves that enhanced all aspects of these unique forward-looking designs for cinemas, hotels, theatres, offices, shops and homes. Popular features include streamlining, sunbursts, ziggurats, eyebrows, frozen fountains, Egyptian themes and nautical designs, all depicted in wonderful pastel shades.
Rapid redevelopment between the world wars saw this modernistic movement spread into the new suburbs of our greatest cities, whilst the expanding film industry also used art deco design as the perfect way to attract cinema-goers into the surreal surroundings of the picture palaces.
This unique architecture and art history was revealed by using impressive examples from around the world – South Beach Miami, Napier, Adelaide, Cairo and Mumbai as well as the best art deco from within the UK including Truro!.
13 May 2016
LS Lowry: Surprises and Contradictions
LS Lowry produced some of England’s most original and distinctive paintings, creating a social document of a now bygone industrial age.
This lecture focused on his well known industrial scenes, alongside works that are not readily associated with him.
The lecture explored his life in and around Salford and his attitudes to his healthy disregard for the trappings of fame and fortune that would eventually be his. An exploration of a life and work full of surprises and contradictions.
10 June 2016
British Seaside Holiday, History, Architecture and Entertainment
The British seaside holiday started in the 18th century when wealthy people began going to coastal towns like Scarborough and Brighton to partake in the seawater cure.
Like spa towns it was the health benefits that enticed society. Sea bathing became popular as well as promenading along the seafront or pier to breathe the fresh air.
The building of the railways and steam boat excursions opened up the seaside resorts to the masses; small towns on the coast expanded to cater for the ever increasing crowds. Acts of Parliament like the ‘Bank Holiday Act’ and cheap rail fares enabled the working classes to flock to the seaside. This lecture looks at how seaside holidays have evolved over the years.
Old photographs reveal the fashions and the styles used in seaside architecture, from elegant Georgian terraces to grand hotels and 1930s lidos, not forgetting the entertainment, pleasure and amusements that have played such an important part of the British Seaside Holiday.