Paula Rego: Painting Women on the Edge, and Telling Tales of the Unexpected
Wednesday 1st September 2021
This lecture looks at the life and work of Paula Rego, who is a British artist of Portuguese origin best known for her depictions of folk tales and strikingly unusual images of women.
Married to the British artist Victor Willing (1928-88), Paula Rego settled in this country permanently in the 1970s, but her career in Britain had effectively begun in the early 1960s, when she exhibited with artists like Frank Auerbach and David Hockney. Over the following twenty years her career and reputation built steadily, and in 1990 she was invited to become the first Associate Artist at the National Gallery. Her well-known series of paintings and prints based on nursery rhymes emerged from this residency, as did another series of large-scale paintings which is currently displayed in the National Gallery restaurant.
In her early days, Paula Rego experimented with many different styles, including abstraction, and was very much influenced by Surrealism, but her mature style places a strong emphasis on clear draughtsmanship and the human figure. She produces works which suggest complicated narratives full of psychological tension, drama, and emotion. Frequently she depicts women and girls in disturbing or ambiguous situations and poses, which has occasionally caused some controversy, but her insistence on the physicality of her female figures, and her refusal to idealise or revert to cliché, has earned her global recognition and many prestigious awards. She was made a DBE in 2010.
Linda Smith holds two first-class degrees in Art History and specialises in British and twentieth century art. She is an experienced lecturer and guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern and has lectured widely to schools, university students, and arts societies in the UK and abroad.
The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa Update on our next online lecture and a Christmas special to cheer everyone up!
This update contains the following:
– an introduction from the Chairman
– an update on returning to the Spa Centre
– a reminder of some key information on our online lectures
– details of our next online lecture on 2nd December 2020
– our Christmas special
– other online offerings for you to consider
1. Introduction from the Chairman
Welcome to the November update with, as usual, details of our next online lecture.
I very much hope that you are all managing to cope with the continuing restrictions under lockdown. I know that these are particularly difficult times for people living alone; I do hope that, for those members in this position, you in particular, enjoy feeling part of a larger group of like-minded people when you log into our online lectures.
The recent announcement of a potential vaccine against Covid19 has been most encouraging although it is clearly not an immediate solution. However, it has made us start talking to the Spa Centre about a possible return to physical lectures in the foreseeable future and I have included an update on this.
I have also included some other online offerings from past lecturers for you to access if you so wish.
2. Returning to the Spa Centre
I have had several questions from members as to when we think it will be possible to return to physical lectures at the Spa Centre.
As I indicated last month, the first critical step in this process was the announcement from the Council that the future of the Spa Centre was secure and that it would re-open by 31st March 2021.
We have recently re-started our usual dialogue with the staff at the Spa Centre and are looking at dates for our future lectures in 2021 and 2022. Our current hope is to be able to return to The Spa Centre for our lecture on 5th May 2021. All lectures prior to that date will be online.
Clearly whether or not this is possible will depend on how the pandemic progresses, when and how effective the vaccination programme proves to be and any government legislation and guidance that may be in place at that time. Therefore the situation will continue to be very fluid but I will continue to keep you up to date on our plans in this regard.
I can assure you that our absolute first priority will be to ensure any return will not prejudice your health and wellbeing.
3. Information on our online lectures
The link that you need to access our online lectures is always contained in the email invitation that is sent out by Keith Roberts approximately five to six days before the date of the lecture.
Both lecturers and the Society have always needed to be aware of both copyright and intellectual property issues in delivering lectures and that is even more important in a digital environment. As regular viewers of the online lectures will know, these are broadcast live via YouTube at a specified time (typically 11:00am on the relevant day).
However we are aware that not everyone may be free to view at the time of the live broadcast and so we negotiate with the lecturer to retain a copy of the lecture on YouTube for a specified period. The result is that the period of retention varies from lecturer to lecturer and after that period has expired the recording has to be deleted from YouTube and is no longer available to view.
The time for which the recording can be viewed is always included in these updates and in Keith Roberts’ email (you will see under item 4. that, in the case of our December lecture, it will be available for 24 hours after the live broadcast) so, if you cannot view the live broadcast and wish to access the recording, please make sure that you do so within the relevant time frame to – as they say – avoid disappointment!
We have always welcomed visitors and friends to our lectures and we continue to do so while our lectures are online. If, as a member, you invite non-member friends to view a lecture, we would be most grateful if you could encourage your friends to join the Society; we have recently had several new members join after watching previous online lectures.
4. Online lecture on Wednesday 2nd December I am pleased to announce that our next online lecture will be broadcast live, on YouTube, on Wednesday 2nd December at 11.00am. By the kind agreement of the lecturer, the lecture will remain on YouTube for 24 hours following the live broadcast but will not be available after that time.
You are very welcome to invite friends and family to watch the lecture with you or, if you prefer, forward them the link to enable them to watch it separately. In either event, I would be most grateful if you would encourage your friends to join the Society.
The lecture is entitled ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’s Glorious Christmas Oratorio’ which I hope you will agree is an appropriately seasonal title!
Our lecturer will be Sandy Burnett who I am sure many of you will recognise and remember from his excellent lecture to us in June 2020 on ‘Beethoven at 250’ and I look forward to welcoming him back to our Society. Sandy is a well-known broadcaster and author in the field of classical music.
A link to enable you to access the broadcast will be emailed to you a few days before the 2nd December.
5. Our Christmas Special
In normal circumstances each alternative year, we have a day visit in the run up to Christmas – the last trip in 2018 was a very successful one to Blenheim Palace all decorated for Christmas. Clearly such a trip is not possible in the current abnormal year but we thought that we should still have some event with a Christmas theme to it.
Accordingly, on Friday 18th December at 11:00am, we will be having a virtual Christmas tour, entitled ‘The Spirit of Christmas’
This will be celebrating all things Christmassy. It will be presented by London Blue Badge guides Pepe Martinez and Simon Whitehouse. Many of you will remember Pepe from his wonderful virtual tour of the old East End that he did in August.
The presentation will be in two parts. Part 1 will explore the history of all those Christmas traditions that we now take for granted such as Christmas crackers, mince pies, Christmas cards and the ubiquitous Christmas tree. There will then be an interval of about 15 minutes and I suggest that you might like to use some of this time to get a mince pie and whatever your favourite festive tipple is to fully enter into the Christmas spirit! Part 2 – well actually the contents of Part 2 are a secret (including from me!) so we will all just have to log in and find out!
This presentation will be broadcast live on YouTube from 11:00am and will last (including the interval and questions) for about 2 hours. It will be retained on YouTube for 48 hours after the live broadcast so if you are not able to see the live broadcast you will be able to see it during that period.
As usual, Keith Roberts will email out the link to enable you to access this a few days before the 18th December.
6. Lecturers online offerings A number of our lecturers also have other lectures, talks, tours etc on the arts and arts related topics online and, for those of you who wish to access such items I have set out below the offerings of two of our recent lecturers in particular:
Sian Walters (Sian delivered our first ever virtual lecture in April) has just launched a new mini series of online webinars in collaboration with friends and colleagues around the world on a variety of arts subjects. Prices are from £10 and for more information and booking please visit https://www.arthistoryinfocus.com/courses/
Pepe Martinez has also launched a series of virtual tours which can be booked singly or covering a group of these tours. Most importantly, for bookings made before 1st December there are ‘early bird’ discounts available. For more detailed information on what is available and to book, contact Pepe on
Finally, may I also be an early bird in terms of Christmas as this will be my last update until after Christmas, and wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and I hope that you are able to celebrate it in whatever way you choose and with whomsoever you choose.
In place of our postponed visit to Weston Park in August 2020, we enjoyed an excellent virtual tour by award winning Pepe Martinez, a London Blue Badge Guide and tutor, on one of London’s most fascinating districts.
This told us the story of wave after wave of people coming to London to seek refuge, looking for a better life. Using powerful images, video and google street views we saw the arrival of French Huguenots and the 1680’s through to the more than 10.000 Jewish Kindertransport children who arrived at Liverpool Street station in 1939.
This Christmas special live online virtual day visit will be celebrating all things Christmassy.
We recommend a mince pie and glass of Christmas cheer to hand as you enjoy this extra treat.
Presented by Tourist Guides Pepe Martinez, an award- winning London Blue badge Tourist Guide and accredited Institute of Tourist Guide Trainer who is currently tutoring on the London Blue badge training course, and Simon Whitehouse, also an award- winning Blue badge Guide and Lecturer at the Ithaca College London Centre.
This extra special Christmas extravaganza will be in two parts. Part one will explore the history of all those Christmas traditions we now take for granted such as Christmas crackers, mince pies, Christmas cards and the Christmas tree.
After a short interval, part two will be a virtual Version of “Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol” which will be presented jointly by Pepe and Simon.
This event will be streamed online on Friday 18th December 2020 at 11:00am via a link sent to members only and available by this link to YouTube for 48 hours only.
The next Day of Special Interest will be on Friday 22nd October 2021 and will have three lectures on Pre-Raphaelite painters. It will be held at The Warwickshire Country Club, Leek Wootton, CV35 7QT.
The presenter will be Mr. Julian Halsby, MA RBA FRSA. Julian studied History of Art at Emmanuel College Cambridge and had a career in lecturing and writing, working as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department.
The Pre-Raphaelites were young, revolutionary artists who defied the traditions of the Royal Academy and produced highly original and innovative works from 1848 until the 1880’s.
The study day will start by looking at the origins of the movement and the battles for recognition from 1848 to 1860, moving on to examine the wonderful Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, amongst the finest landscapes of the 19th century. The young Pre-Raphaelites were also social rebels rejecting Victorian morality and associating with girls whom their parents considered to be below their social standing. The day will continue by examining the loves and scandals surrounding these artists. What is less well known is that their paintings often comment on social evils of the time – prostitution, vagrancy, poverty and the Scottish clearances.
After lunch (which is included in the ticket price), Julian will look at the later Pre-Raphaelites and their influence in Europe, as well as examining Pre-Raphaelite design led by William Morris and Burne-Jones which became the famous Arts and Crafts Movement.
I think you will agree that we can look forward to a very interesting day. Ticket information will be available at a later date.
I am delighted to say that all the news this month is good news! – so I hope that helps to lift your spirits at least somewhat. This update contains the following:
– an update on the ’50 Treasures’ project that I referred to last month.
– an update on the re-opening of the Spa Centre.
– the announcement of a very well-deserved award of a West Midlands Gold Award for volunteering to Angela Watkins.
– an update on our involvement with the Leamington History Group project.
– details of our next online lecture on 4th November 2020.
1. 50 Treasures of the West Midlands I referred to this project in my update last month but, just by way of a reminder, it is a project to assemble fifty of the lesser known artistic (using that term in a wide sense) objects and places in the West Midlands area and publish the result in a glossy booklet.
Although completion of the project has, inevitably, been delayed by the pandemic, Carol Austin, who is coordinating this project at area level, has confirmed that we should be able to publish the booklet by Easter 2021. As soon as it is published I will, of course, let you know how you can order copies of it.
2. The Spa Centre and Leamington Museum & Art Gallery Firstly, the Council has confirmed that the future of both of the above are secure and secondly, that they will re-open by the end of March 2021, although they may, of course, open subject to various conditions such as social distancing etc.
This is very good news for us and brings the time when we can realistically have physical lectures in the Spa Centre an important step closer. We will continue to liaise with the Spa Centre to establish what can, and cannot, be done and as soon as we have a definitive date and plan I will let you know.
At the moment we have planned our April 2021 lecture to be online and I suspect that will remain the case as it is only a few days after the rescheduled opening but, again, I will keep you fully informed of developments as they occur.
3. Angela Watkins Very many of you will know Angela but for those who do not, she has led our church recording activity outstanding well over more than 20 years and she was also the area church recording representative for several years.
I am very pleased to announce that Angela has been awarded a West Midlands Area Gold Award for volunteering in recognition of all her work in this particular field – well done Angela and many congratulations!
4. Leamington History Group (LHG) project In last month’s update, I included a reference to the Virtual Fair that LHG held on 26th September, including a video from us showcasing the work of our Heritage Volunteers and Trails of Discovery. I know that a number of you logged into the day and to our video in particular and I hope you enjoyed them; personally, I thought our video was particularly good (although I might be accused of a slight bias!). You can still watch it on YouTube One of the LHG videos is on the broad history and development of Leamington and you can find it at: http://leamingtonhistory.co.uk/leamingtons-victorian-legacy/ Having viewed it myself I can thoroughly recommend it and you will also see that we get mentioned in the credits at the end for helping to finance its production.
5. Online lecture on Wednesday 4th November I am pleased to announce that our next online lecture will be broadcast, as is now usual, on You Tube on Wednesday 4th November at 11.00am. More details can be found on this link to our website As with all our previous online lectures, members are very welcome to invite friends and family to watch it with you or, if you prefer, forward them the link to You Tube to enable them to watch it separately if they are interested in joining us.
The lecture is entitled‘The Day Parliament Burned Down’and our lecturer will be Dr. Caroline Shenton. Caroline is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London and, before that, a senior archivist at the National Archives in Kew.
The lecture will be streamed live via You Tube which makes it very easy to access as there is no need to download or set up and additional software. A link to enable members to access the broadcast will be emailed to members a few days before the 4th November.
With Caroline’s kind permission, the video will remain available online for 24 hours after it has been broadcast live (i.e. until 12 noon on 5th November) to enable those members who are not able to join live on the 4th an opportunity to view it.
I hope that you are all keeping safe and well and, for those of you who log in, I do hope that you enjoy the lecture.
Online Lecture Our online lectures continue to be very popular with record numbers of members, friends and guests logging in to watch both our last lecture and the virtual walk of the East End of London; I am most grateful to you all for your continuing support for our online lecture programme.
For those of you who watched the virtual walk presentation by Pepe Martinez, he would very much welcome reviews as he is not an Arts Society approved lecturer and therefore does not get feedback through The Arts Society. You can leave a review on Trip Advisor using the following link:
I am delighted to announce that we will be broadcasting our next online lecture on Wednesday 2nd September at 11.00am which is, of course, the opening lecture in our 2020/21 season. As with our previous online lectures, you are very welcome to invite friends and family to watch it with you or, if you prefer, to forward them the link to You Tube to enable them to watch separately.
As is now our established practice, this lecture will be streamed live via YouTube which should make it easy for you to access as it can be viewed by any standard web browser; there is no need to download or set up any additional software. A link to enable you to access the broadcast will be emailed to members a few days before the lecture.
Membership Thank you so much to all members who have renewed your membership for the 2020/21 season. The vast majority of members did renew with the only significant fall out being, perhaps understandably, those members without emails/computer access; I very much hope that, when we return to physical meetings, many of those will re-join our society.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our membership secretary, Margot Radomska, for all her sterling and extensive work on the membership renewals.
Warwick District Council (WDC) Some of you may be aware that WDC is developing a strategy for establishing a creative centre and hub in South Leamington, which already has a nucleus of businesses in this sector. We are in touch with WDC to see what and whether this is something that we want to be involved in and, if so, how. I will keep you updated on this as matters progress.
The East End is one of London’s most fascinating and dynamic districts. It is essentially the story of immigration, wave after wave of people coming to London to seek refuge and look for a better life.
The Old East End Virtual tour tells their story. Using powerful images, video and Google street view, our journey takes us from the arrival of French Huguenots in the 1680s through to the more than 10,000 Jewish Kindertransport children who arrived at Liverpool Street station in 1939.
Pepe Martinez is an award winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. He was born in the East End and has lived there all his life. He is an accredited Institute of Tourist Guiding Trainer and is currently tutoring on the London Blue Badge training course.
This “virtual tour” was streamed online on Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 2:00pm.
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