The Arts Society Rutland
Previous Lectures We will be archiving the lectures as we go through the year, so you can look back on lectures, perhaps look at some of the links associated with them. 16 June 2022 to be at The Raven in Corby, 63 Rockingham Road, NN17 1AG Rev. Sarah Lenton All Done on Ginger Beer At the beginning of the last century Lilian Baylis was given sole charge of the Old Vic Theatre, then a Temperance Hall with a coffee shop and ginger beer outlet, and asked to put on suitable entertainments for the local working­-class population. Using the ginger beer crates for scenery, she gave them opera, Shakespeare and, in due course, ballet. In doing so she created the companies for which she is still known: the English National Opera, the Royal National Theatre and The Royal Ballet. This talk charts the achievement of this astonishing and original woman and the household names of the stars of opera, ballet, stage and screen that she drew into her orbit. 19 May 2022 to be at The Raven in Corby, 63 Rockingham Road, NN17 1AG Nicholas Merchant Eileen Gray: An Irish Rebel Imagine, late 19th century Southern Ireland, a young girl of “good family”, living in an 18th century mansion, a tranquil rural existence. It sounds idyllic, the sort of life colour supplements write about with floods of purple prose. This was the life of the subject of this lecture, as the 19th century drew to its close. In 1900 Eileen’s Mother took her to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and as the saying goes “she never looked back”. An imaginative, and determined girl, Eileen was determined not to see Enniscorthy again. She enrolled in the Slade School of Art, progressed to learn the true art of lacquer in Paris and after the First War became one of Paris’s most recherché and sought-after designers. Not for her the stuffed Victorian furniture of her home but for her, what we now call, “cutting-edge” design. In her studio in the rue Bonaparte she created works which rivalled all the great 20th century furniture makers of Paris. The Art Deco Exhibition of 1925 was the turning point of her life, and the world became aware of her. Ever restless, she built in the late 20’s an extraordinary house at Roquebrunne which became the envy of one of the best- known architects of the period, Le Corbusier. This is a fascinating story of the girl from Enniscorthy, who became one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century. 21 April 2022 to be at The Raven in Corby, 63 Rockingham Road, NN17 1AG Colin Davies Zaha Hadid- Architectural Superstar 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 tells 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. 17 March 2022 to be at The Raven in Corby, 63 Rockingham Road, NN17 1AG Tom Flynn The History of Auctions This talk looks at the history of auctions from the Roman period, when the spoils of war were auctioned “Under the Spear,” through to the great book auctions of the sixteenth century and on into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when auctions became the favoured means of disposing of furniture, paintings, works of art and the chattels of the great landed estates. The confidential mechanisms at work in today’s high-priced art auctions are enough to make most reasonable people doubt the ethics of the art market. Are high-end art auctions really public sales or is something else happening behind the scenes? How transparent is the process and why do prices keep rising to such extraordinary heights? Given the prices changing hands, is the art market as well regulated as Wall Street and the City of London, and if not, why not? Are auctions inadvertently contributing to international money-laundering and similar white-collar crime? This stimulating and lavishly illustrated lecture offers the benefits of 35 years writing and reporting on the global art market and its professional practices and tells the inside story of why the world’s most expensive paintings sell for such staggering sums of money. 17 February 2022 on Zoom the link will be sent out shortly before the session. Barry Venning Giles: His Life, Times and Cartoons 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 and even his employers at the Daily Express, who didn’t trust him and had sub-editors scouring his cartoons for subversive background details. His admirers included Prince Charles, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Tommy Cooper, and it was no surprise when he was voted Britain’s best-loved cartoonist in 2000. 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 also a great fan of his work. Giles gave us a remarkable picture of a half-century of British life. He was also, as his editor John Gordon put it “a spreader of happiness’ and ‘a genius…with the common touch’. 20 January 2022 11am on Zoom Julian Richards Inspired by Stonehenge Stonehenge is the most celebrated and sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the British Isles. This lecture explains why Stonehenge must be regarded as architectural in its layout and construction, embodying techniques that for centuries convinced antiquarians that it could not have been built by ‘primitive’ ancient Britons but must be a product of ‘sophisticated’ Romans. We then explore how, over the last two centuries, this iconic structure has inspired painters, potters and poets. Blake, Turner, Constable and Moore are amongst those who have all been drawn to this magnificent ruin, resulting in a diverse catalogue of images and impressions. Finally, we will look at Stonehenge as a global icon and how it’s instantly recognisable stones now grace tea towels in Wiltshire, phone cards in Japan and stamps from Bhutan. AGM 18th November 2021 10:55 at The Rockingham Forest Hotel Corby Douglas Skeggs Hockney: A Modern Master From the early sixties, when he left the Royal College of Art more famous than his teachers, Hockney's paintings have shown a charm and humour that sets them apart from others of his generation. A naturally gifted draftsman, his love of ingenious visual devices has led him to experiment with a whole range of techniques, from stage design to coloured paper making. From the early abstract expressionist images, through his famous Californian scenes of swimming pools to the photo-montages of the mid eighties, this lecture follows the career of an artist whose wit and imagination has never faltered. Click here for David Hockney’s own web site 21st October 2021 10:55 at The Rockingham Forest Hotel Corby Peter Medhurst The Magic Flute: the story of Mozart’s most famous opera The Magic Flute is one of the best loved of all Mozart's operas and charms audiences as much today as it did those at the end of the 18th century. However, beneath the surface of the music are many complexities, ambiguities and hidden secrets, which when revealed may well enhance the listener’s understanding and enjoyment of the work. By following the progress of Tamino - the opera’s hero – Peter Medhurst shows that Mozart’s opera is one of the finest musical products of the enlightenment. 16th September 2021 10:55 at The Rockingham Forest Hotel Corby Dr. Helen Doe Ships, Men & Women of Nelson’s Navy Some of the untold stories and images of the Napoleonic Wars featuring Nelson's spy, enterprising women and the families left on shore. Helen specialises in maritime business history, particularly in the nineteenth century. She has published extensively and among her books are The First Atlantic Liner and Enterprising Women in Shipping. She co-edited and contributed to the award winning The Maritime History of Cornwall. Helen’s latest book is SS Great Britain: Brunel’s Ship, her Voyages, Passengers and Crew. She gained her PhD at the University of Exeter where she is a Fellow of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. She is a member of the UK Government’s Council of Experts on National Historic Ships (these include HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, Cutty Sark and Warrior). She is a Trustee of the SS Great Britain and Chairman of the Acquisitions Committee for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. 17th June 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Mary Rose Rivett-Carnac Art UK: Uncovering the Nation’s Hidden Oil-painting Collection Art UK was set up to catalogue every oil painting in public ownership in the UK. This unique and ambitious project involved visiting 3,000 collections across the country and photographing over 212,000 paintings. These paintings are reproduced in an acclaimed series of hardback catalogues entitled Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. The paintings are freely available to view on the Art UK website (www.artuk.org). The lecture offers an insider’s view of the project and describes some unusual collections visited, intriguing paintings uncovered, detective work involved and assistance given by The Arts Society's members. 20th May 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Barbara Askew Happy & Glorious: 1,000 Years of Coronations The crowning of the sovereign is an ancient ceremony rich in religious significance, historical associations and pageantry. This lecture looks at the evolution of the coronation ceremony from Saxon times to that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It examines the different stages from the Recognition through to the Homage and explains the significance of the different items of the Coronation Regalia. Finally, the lecture gives an account of the ill omens and memorable mishaps which have occurred at coronations throughout the centuries, and ends with the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, the first to be genuinely witnessed by the people through the medium of television. 15th April 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Rupert Willoughby Basingstoke & its contribution to World Culture One of the most derided towns in England, renowned for its dullness, Basingstoke is distinguished only by its numerous roundabouts and absurd Modernist architecture. Rupert explains that the post-war planners, who inflicted such features as ‘the Great Wall of Basingstoke’ on the town, were politically-motivated and bent on destroying all traces of its past. He reveals the nobler Basingstoke that is buried beneath the concrete, and the few historic gems that have survived the holocaust. Hilariously told, it is a story that neatly illustrates the ugliest episode in England’s architectural history. As Betjeman wrote prophetically, “What goes for Basingstoke goes for most English towns” 18th March 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Nicola Moorby As if by magic: Secrets of Turner’s Watercolours J.M.W. Turner was arguably the greatest practitioner in watercolour the world has ever seen and his achievements still represent the benchmark for artists working today. Yet he left frustratingly few written records of his processes and was notoriously reticent about his methods. One brave soul apparently once asked him the key to being a successful artist and it is recorded that he rather grumpily replied ‘The only secret I have is damned hard work’! This lecture examines Turner’s watercolour practice in detail, unlocking the mysteries behind his exceptional effects. In addition to showcasing the diversity and richness of his achievements in the medium, we will look at his experimental approach to techniques and some of his tools and materials 18th February 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Linda Smith Kicking & screaming: a brief story of Post-war British art This lecture explains what has been going on in British art since 1945, when Francis Bacon caused ‘total consternation’ with his raw and visceral canvasses. His work was part of a wider phenomenon called the ‘Geometry of Fear’ by a leading critic of the day. From that point, the talk tracks key moments in British art decade by decade, through the curious mixture of modernism and pastoralism which is associated with the Festival of Britain; on to the explosion of Pop Art and Conceptualism in the 1960s and 70s, through to the 1980s and 90s, which gave us the notorious Sensation exhibition and the Turner Prize, and on to the present day. However, despite all these highly public shocks and upsets, figurative painters like Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud were quietly getting on with it in the background, and one of the great stories of post-war British art is the continuing strength and vigour of that tradition. Click here for the Post War Art background Jan 21st 2021 Curtain up 10:50, start 11am Anne Haworth Phoenix of the Fall: Three Empresses of China In Ancient China, the phoenix, a bird of myth and legend, symbolised the Empress, consort to the Dragon Emperor. The lecture focuses on three Empresses who lived in the Forbidden City from the 18th century to the end of empire in 1911. Empress Xiaoxian was consort to the Qianlong Emperor, one of China’s greatest art collectors. The formidable Dowager Empress Cixi ruled the Empire ‘from behind the curtain’ during the 19th century. Empress Wanrong, known as Elizabeth, married Puyi, the last Emperor of China. She was beautiful and received a Western education yet died an opium addict in wartorn China. Their history reaches back to a golden age of art patronage and expansion of the vast Imperial collection, through the opium wars and twilight days of Empire, to the Warlord era of the 20th century, when the art collection was plundered by Palace eunuchs. In this lecture, the phoenix is also the Imperial art collection itself, which was reborn from the ashes of Empire and civil war. After the 1949 Communist victory, Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek and his charismatic Shanghainese wife, Soong May Ling, described as China’s ‘Last Empress’, brought thousands of crates of treasures to Taiwan. The former Imperial collection is now housed in China, Taiwan and in museums and private collections in the West.
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The Arts Society Rutland