Our 2017-2018 Special Interest Days

During Special Interest Days (Study Days) members have the opportunity to look at a subject in more depth than is possible in a lecture. The group size is often smaller which can allow for a more informal approach.

Future Special Interest Days

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Tom Duncan

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.00 a.m. - 13.30 p.m.


Ireland has had a long and troubled history, a history inevitably linked to that of England. But it is a history marked with many artistically fruitful side effects. Indeed, influences from a wider European world were often of equal or greater importance. This is especially true of the Early Christian period when Christianity was introduced into Ireland. The study day will begin with an examination of this world, a world which produced the greatest religious works of art in manuscripts such as The Book of Kells and the metalwork such as The Ardagh Chalice.

The later Middle Ages saw England's direct involvement in Ireland, and the effect of this relationship will be examined as more sophisticated buildings were introduced by the Normans from the late twelfth century onwards. Walled towns, strong castles and churches built in the Gothic style bear ample testament to the vigour of their earlier attempts at conquest and settlement. That this settlement did not fully succeed explains the at times low place of the arts amongst both native Celtic and invading Norman elites. Subsequent attempts by the Tudor and Sturat dynasties to bring Ireland to heel meant that the settled conditions necessary for the creation of fine architecture and the patronage painters and decorative artists did not prevail. Thus, there is no renaissance or baroque to be found in the Emerald Isle!

By the end of the seventeenth century with the final defeat of the old "Catholic" Ireland and the emergence of the new "Protestant and Ascendancy" Ireland, conditions changed. With peace came prosperity and so too did the desire to improve the quality of the buildings and to decorate and furnish them in the most up-to-date contemporary English and European fashions. In fact, the land-owning classes of whatever religious or political background spent on a lavish scale during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is this roistering, devil-may-care world which forms the main focus of the day. A number of important houses will be analysed in considerable detail.

To complement this day of special interest, a five night tour of the castles and gardens of Northern Ireland is planned for late june 2019.

Venue: The Best Western Hotel, Blundells Rd, Tiverton. EX16 4DB.

Organised by: The Arts Society South West Area

Cost: £38. Coffee on arrival, and a two course lunch with coffee

Download a Booking Form: Booking Form

Contact: Study Day Secretary or email sid@theartssocietyfalmouth.org

Previous Special Interest Days this year

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Frank Woodgate

Time: Study morning: 10.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.


Even before it was opened in 1897, the Tate Gallery was the subject of heated debate and controversy which continued through the decades which followed. This was frequently related to works of art which had been acquired and, sometimes, about those works which the Gallery had failed to acquire.

Since the opening of Tate Modern, Tate Britain has returned to its origins as the national collection of British art. It now displays a magnificent collection of six centuries of art produced in Britain, and is the world centre for the study and enjoyment of British art and culture. The gallery contains major works by artists such as Hogarth, Gainsborough, Stubbs, Constable, Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites, Hockney and Bacon, presenting, in effect, a history of British art from the Tudors to the present day.

This lecture examined highlights of the collection housed at Tate Brtain.

Venue: National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Organised by: The Arts Society Falmouth

Cost: £15 to include coffee and cake

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Anthea Streeter

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.30am - 15.30pm



Art Nouveau was the first attempt to create an international modern style. It had its fullest flowering on the European Continent during the 1890s. At this time progressive architects and designers renounced the tired formulae of historicism in favour of a ‘New Art’.

The first lecture began with examples of Art Nouveau set alongside pieces from the following Art Deco period, so that a clear distinction could be made between the two styles. We then looked at how the English designers such as William Morris, Charles Voysey and Aubrey Beardsley were the first to break with the past. Influenced by nature, and the clarity and simplicity of Japanese artefacts, their work pointed a new way forward; and the influential store Liberty’s of London played a crucial role in importing and commissioning new designs.

The second lecture showed how the various countries in continental Europe responded to the New Art, firstly looking at Belgium and France. Hector Guimard’s organic, plant-like forms for the Paris Metro as well as Rene Lalique’s naturalistic jewellery demonstrate the mainstream of Art Nouveau. We looked at Gaudi’s fantastical designs in Barcelona, and then moved to Scandinavia, taking a close look at the prevailing National Romanticism of Finland.

After lunch we examined quite a different manifestation of Art Nouveau. This comes in the rectilinear forms of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland and his Austrian contemporaries, Olbrich and Hoffman in Vienna. The early work of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is brought into context and the afternoon closes with the exquisite glass designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Venue: Lecture Theatre, National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Organised by: The Arts Society Falmouth

Cost: £35 To include lectures, mid-morning coffee and buffet lunch

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Oliver Everett

Time: Special Interest Day: 10.00am - 15.30pm

Synopsis: Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest continuously occupied castle in the world. It has been enlarged and modified throughout its 900 year history to reflect the needs, ambitions and styles of various monarchs.

As such, the castle has evolved from an impregnable fortress into a royal country residence which as well as being the Queen's favourite home, is regularly used by her on special occasions.

The restoration of the castle after the 1992 fire allowed Her Majesty to build on the development of the structure.

The lecture shows how today's castle has grown from its 11th century origins and how the evolution relates to the personalities, tastes and foibles of its Royal occupants and to the history of Britain.

Venue: TBA

Organised by: South West Area

Cost: TBA to include coffee on arrival, departure and a two course lunch.

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Peter Medhurst

Time: TBA

Synopsis: Programme 18th and 19th July 2018 9.30 Registration and coffee. Exhibitions open: - Members own art works - South West Societies’ table stands - Arts Society South West Area stands. 11.00 Assemble in The Great Hall for welcome speeches. 11.30 Peter Medhurst: First lecture. 12.40 Lunch - first sitting 13.30 Lunch - second sitting Exhibitions open throughout lunch period Gardens open. 14.30 Peter Medhurst: Second Lecture. 15.30 - 18.00 Exhibitions remain open 16.30 Auctioneer’s Call my Bluff in the Great Hall 16.00 – 17.45 Cream teas on the private lawn (in Great Hall if wet). Refreshments: complimentary self-service tea and coffee will be available throughout the day in the West Wing Common Room. The White Hart bar, the new Green Table cafe and the Round House cafe will all be open for light food and drinks all day. Exhibition: the exhibition of members will remain open on the 20th July.

Venue: Dartington Hall, Totnes

Organised by: South West Area

Cost: TBA