Our 2018-2019 Lecture Programme

Lectures begin at 10.30 a.m. at the Princess Pavilion, normally on the second Friday of the month. Refreshments are available in the Garden Room from 10.00 a.m. Lunches are available post lecture.

Below is a list of lectures and a brief synopsis of each. You can download a Printable Copy of the lecture programme.


What’s in a crack? Materials and techniques of Stanhope Forbes

Sarah Cove

Ignoring the Fishing and the Folk, the surfaces of paintings by Stanhope Forbes and his Newlyn School contemporaries pose as many questions as they answer.

Many of these works are riddled with drying cracks on the surfaces suggesting complex paint layers, multiple changes of mind during the evolution of a composition and possibly the hasty use of incompatible materials. At the same time, the 19th century was an era of great change in artists’ materials generally, with rise and rise of the modern artists’ colourman, the invention of tube paints (and their pros and cons) and developments in pigment technology as a result of the industrial revolution.

So far very little technical or scientific examination of the Newlyn School works has been formally carried out in collections worldwide. However, in recent years, paintings conservator and technical art historian Sarah Cove has worked on and examined a number of these works. This lecture drew together threads about the working processes of this close artistic community taken from her work in progress.

She unravelled some of the secrets of the painters’ methods as seen under the microscope, working solely from her own research and conservation records, and she asked as many questions as she answered. Problems with deterioration in the original materials were discussed as well as comments on the cleaning, conservation and varnishing of these works.

The lecture was illustrated with unique close-up details and other scientifc methods such as x-radiography and infra-red reflectography.


Threads of history – the World of the Bayeaux Tapestry

Rupert Willoughby

Commissioned by the Bishop of Bayeux who fought at Hastings, executed by skilled English craftsmen, the Bayeux Tapestry is the last survivor of a vanished art form.

With its lively illustrations of languid, party-loving, moustachioed Englishmen, of the cavalcades of noble huntsmen and of the snorting Norman cavalry poised to charge into battle, the Tapestry is the next best thing to a moving picture from the time.


Khmer Art and Architecture, or Angkor Wat and All That

Michael O'Brien

This lecture included a brief account of the geography, the historical sources, the language and religion of the Khmers and traces the development of the empire from the 6th century to its demise after the middle of the 13th century.

There are hundreds of temples and other structures at Angkor: three of the most significant were discussed in detail, with brief mention of some others for their sculptural or architectural interest.


Giles: His Life, Times and Cartoons

Barry Venning

The cartoonist, Carl Giles, once said that he loved his creation, Grandma Giles – that fearsome, black-clad, gambling, drinking battleaxe – because she allowed him to say things through his cartoons that he was too polite to say in person.

She helped him to poke fun at authority in all its forms, from Hitler to traffic wardens. Few people realise, however, that this likeable and humane satirist was also a war correspondent who witnessed the horrors of Belsen, where he found that the camp commandant, Josef Kramer, was a great fan of his work.


Pots and Frocks - the world of Grayson Perry - LECTURE POSTPONED

Ian Swankie

Lecture has been postponed for urgent repairs at the Pavilion

Lectures continue in Febraury

From Essex Potter to Superstar National Treasure.

Widely known for his appearances dressed as his feminine alter ego, Claire, Grayson Perry RA is now a core part of the art establishment. Ten years after winning the Turner Prize he gave the brilliant BBC Reith Lecture in 2013. His works of ceramics, textiles, tapestries and prints are highly sought after.

Often controversial, he is able to tackle difficult subjects in a poignant yet witty way. This talk will examine Grayson Perry’s works, his exciting and thought provoking exhibitions, and we’ll look at the character inside the flamboyant frocks.


Two Women Impressionists – Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt

Julian Halsby

In the 19th century it was very difficult for women to become professional artists. Art was not considered a suitable career for young ladies and most art colleges only taught men. Yet despite almost insurmountable difficulties, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt not only became the only women to be part of the Impressionist group but also established themselves amongst the leading artists of their time.

They came from very different backgrounds: Berthe Morisot came from a respectable bourgeois family, her mother’s only interest was to find a suitable husband for her, and was horrified when Berthe decided to become a professional painter. Mary Cassatt was brought up in Pittsburgh, USA but her parents were liberal and cultured and encouraged her to study art in Europe where she finally settled in Paris. Berthe’s great influence was Edouard Manet whom she adored and whose brother Eugene she married. Mary’s great influence was Edgar Degas who influenced her work and encouraged her to exhibit with the Impressionists.

Berthe became a mother and her main inspiration was her daughter, Julie Manet, whom she painted over and over again. She is a painter of domestic scenes handled in a soft and very Impressionist manner. Mary never married, devoting her life to painting and print making, yet her best work is also domestic scenes of mothers with very young children. Mary was also instrumental in introducing the French Impressionists to American collectors.

Fighting prejudice, even from colleagues such as Renoir, both women became professional paintings selling their work through commercial galleries and both had an enormous influence on women painters who followed in their footsteps.

Please note this is a slightly different lecture subject delivered by a different lecture. The original lecturer could not make the lecture for personal reasons.


Modern Art and Old Masters

Valerie Woodgate

A comparison of the way in which the modern treatment of traditional genres in art is different from that of the Old Masters, the effect of these differences, and whether they add to, or change, our understanding of the subject and its message.

The lecture covered all of the traditional genres, i.e. History Painting, Portraits, Genre (pictures of everyday life), Landscape and Still-Life, and we considered the way in which the treatment of these subjects has changed over the centuries, up to the present day.



Colin Davies

Dame Zaha Hadid died on March 31 st 2016 at age of 65.

Architectural historians of the future will surely recognise her as one of the most important architects of the early 21st century. She was born in Iraq and her reputation was global, but she made Britain her home.

This lecture told the story of her career from the visionary projects of the 1980s, through the years of frustration when her designs were considered unbuildable, to the prolific crop of successful projects built all over the world in the last decade of her life.


LOVER, TEACHER, MUSE, RIVAL? Couples In Modern British Art.

James Russell

Who does the housework? Who gets the glory?

Successful artists tend to be driven and, dare one say it, egotistical, so what happens when two of them set up home together?

Focusing on 20th century British art, this colourful lecture explored the lives and careers of notable artist couples, including Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, and Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden.

It became quickly clear that, where artists are concerned, there are few rules. Love inspires creativity but so, sometimes, does the fading of love. One artist may begin in the ascendant only to see the other achieve greater success. The private lives of artist couples are often startling and never dull, and the paintings and sculpture on show are glorious.



James Taylor

In 1917 Wilkinson (1878-1971), a first-rate painter and poster designer, invented Dazzle ‘camouflage’.

Thousands of British and Allied ships were painted with vivid and violently contrasting patterns of colour to deter U-boat attacks. Discover the life and work of Wilkinson and his Dazzle scheme that continues to inspire art and design. Was it really inspired by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism?



Frank Woodgate

Due to the cancellation of the January Lecture an additional lecture will be run on this date.

A successful stockbroker who abandoned his career and family at the age of 35 to become an artist, Gauguin is one of the most famous and best-loved artists of the late 19th and early 20th century. His beautiful Brittany landscapes and sensuous, colourful images of women in Tahiti are some of the most popular images in modern art.

As one of the most important Post-Impressionists, he helped liberate colour from the bounds of reality and had a great influence on younger artists such as Matisse and Picasso.