All posts by Keith Roberts

Update – April 2019

Dear Members,

Welcome to Spring 2019!

Those of you who are diligent readers of my various newsletters and updates (which I am sure is everyone!) will have noticed that I promised three updates in October, December and April. I did not actually produce an update in December because, given that there was going to be (and was) a full newsletter in January, I thought that it might be a case of communication overload.  I propose to continue with the pattern of newsletters and updates that has been established this season. I hope that this will strike the always difficult balance between keeping you informed about what your society is doing and avoiding the ‘oh no-not another email from the Arts Society!’ reaction. If anyone has any contrary views on this, please do let me know.

We are now two thirds of the way through the 2018/19 lecture programme and what a successful one it has been to date. We owe many thanks to Carolyn Voss and Eithne Batt for putting together such a varied and interesting programme.

The first lecture of 2019 was ‘Votes for Women! Art and the Suffragettes’ which certainly lived up to my earlier prediction that it would be far more stimulating than current day politics! This was followed by the always irrepressible Peter Medhurst on the ‘Music of Paint’ which proved to be a fascinating look at how musicians, music itself and musical instruments are represented in art. Most recently, we had Nicholas Watkins on ‘The Horse and Modern Art from George Stubbs to Mark Wallinger’, a most interesting review of the horse in art and its links to the human condition.  We start the last third of the season on Wednesday 1 May with Gavin Plumley on ‘The Art and Culture of Fin de Siecle Vienna’ which, as a fan of Vienna as a city and art centre, I personally very much look forward to.

Hopefully you will by now all be aware that we started making a light sandwich lunch available for members who wished to participate on the upstairs level of the Spa Centre and that seems to have been well received. If you would like to join friends, fellow members and the committee, you can sign up the month before for lunch at the following month’s lecture at a price of £7 per head; the sign in process is with our membership secretary, Margot Radomska, who will be at her desk just inside the main doors as you enter the Spa Centre. As always, your programme card contains full details of the lecture programme and synopses of all the lectures are on our website ( It also has details of our days of special interest, day visits, short breaks and our volunteering activities so please do make use of it to keep up to date on what is going on in your society.

There is one upcoming event that is not on the programme card because it was organised after the card was printed and that is the afternoon tea party at Audley Binswood on Thursday 25th April at 3pm.  There are still some tickets available for this, priced at a very reasonable £10. If you are interested in coming, please contact Roz Crampton on 01926 833609.

Despite the high bar set by the previous day of special interest, our most recent such event on Friday 15th March on ‘How to look at Paintings: Unlocking Hidden Meanings in Art’ at our now usual venue for these events, the Warwickshire Golf Club, was equally well received by the full house audience. Our presenter, Stella Grace Lyons, gave all of us some help and ideas as how better to view and appreciate paintings of all ages and genres.

After our day visit to Stonor and Hughenden on 8th May, our next day visit is to Belvoir Castle on Wednesday 14th August and tickets for this will be on sale at the May lecture.

Our volunteers have continued with their considerable range of projects and I had the pleasure to visit those volunteers working in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry and see, first hand, the work they were doing to preserve the extensive collection of garments. It was clear that the work they do was very well regarded and appreciated by the Herbert’s curator.

The volunteers at the Lord Leycester Hospital have just completed their work on cleaning a major part of the weaponry there and the Master of the Hospital has sent me a letter of thanks for the quality of what they have achieved.  I have, of course, passed this on to the members of the team so many congratulations to them.

I hope that you will enjoy the remainder of our season and I look forward to seeing and meeting as many of you as possible at our events.  In the meantime may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Easter holiday.

Shaun Pitt


Special Interest Day – Making Art from Destruction: The Cultural History of War and Heroism – November 2019

Making Art from Destruction: The Cultural History of War and Heroism – November 2019
Image supplied by the speaker

On Friday 1st November 2019, we will be hosting a Day of Special Interest at The Warwickshire Golf & Country Club, Leek Wootton, Warwick CV35 7QT.

The speaker will be Dr Max Jones and the subject will be, “Making Art From Destruction: the Cultural History of War and Heroism”.

How have British artists responded to the destruction of warfare?  In this “Day of Special Interest”, we will explore the changing ways in which artists have interpreted war and heroism over the last three centuries. Attention focused on commanders through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – Wolfe, Nelson and Wellington, Havelock and Gordon – as sculptors and painters raised a host of Admirals and Generals onto pedestals.

Paintings and monuments presented death in war as heroic sacrifice. The unprecedented destruction wrought by the First World War put these artistic conventions under pressure. Six million Britons served in the armed forces during the war – one in eight perished. The legions of the bereaved launched a wave of commemorative projects, erecting thousands of memorials which still mark the landscape today.

We will explore how artists developed new strategies to represent loss and honour the dead of the war. Some artists experimented with abstract forms, with Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth emerging as a major national site for artistic innovation in the twenty-first century. Yet established conventions of commemoration and celebration have endured: classical motifs and figurative forms remain central to the art of war and heroism.

Dr Jones is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Manchester.  He has a BA (Hons) from the University of Oxford, an MA and C.Phil from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

He regularly speaks about his research to public audiences throughout the UK and beyond. He believes that, "the audience should leave the theatre feeling that they’ve participated in a unique event, shaped by the interaction between the lecturer and the audience. Never simply read out a prepared script".

The cost of the day will be £42.00 which will include lunch. Tickets for this event will be on sale at the September and October lectures.

The lectures will begin at 10:00am and the day is expected to end at about 4:00pm.

Roz Crampton

Image supplied by the Speaker

Update – January 2019

A very Happy New Year to you all and welcome to 2019!

I hope that, however you chose to celebrate the Christmas season, you had a thoroughly enjoyable time and found some time to relax amongst the festivities.

We had a very successful set of lectures in the first half of the 2018/19 year, the last lecture of which was most impressive on ‘Contrapuntal Forms: Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost’. Those of you who were at the lecture (and maybe even more if you were not able to be there), might be interested in a piece written by one of our members, David Howells (a collector of a number of pieces of Terry Frost’s work), which has details about Terry’s life and background; you can download the piece here

We have an equally impressive set of lectures for you in the second half of the season. It starts on Wednesday 6th February with Dr. Caroline Shenton on ‘Votes for Women! Art and the Suffragettes’ which should be most stimulating-certainly more so than present day politics!

For those of you planning to attend this lecture, we are planning an innovation that I hope will be welcome to you. We pride ourselves on being a social, friendly society and, with that in mind, we thought that members might like the opportunity to meet up after/before the lecture (depending on whether you are a morning or afternoon member) for a light sandwich lunch on the upstairs level of the Spa Centre and socialise with friends, committee members and the lecturer. Accordingly, at the February lecture you will be able to sign up for such a lunch at the March lecture at a price of £7 per head, payable at the February lecture either by cheque or in cash; the sign-up process will be with our membership secretary, Margot Radomska who, as usual, will be at her desk just inside the main doors as you come into the Spa Centre. The process will roll forward each month i.e. book up at the March lecture for lunch at the April lecture etc, etc. Members will also be able to purchase drinks from the upstairs bar which will be open from 12.00 noon to 1.45pm.

So that you have some idea of, literally, what the lunch looks like, here is a photograph of what we are talking about.

I very much hope that many of you will take this up and enjoy it.

Your programme card does, as always, contain full details of the lecture programme and synopses of all the lectures are here on our website. It also has all the details of our days of special interest, day visits, short breaks and our volunteering activities so please do make use of it to keep yourself up to date with what is going on in your society.

For those of you who wish to keep up to date with happenings in the art world outside our society, I would strongly recommend signing up to the regular email from the national Arts Society which contains ‘Curated Highlights’; the current version has an opportunity to win a Fred Olsen cruise worth £5,698!

It is easy to sign up via the national Arts Society website

Your programme card has details of the planned day visits, days of special interest, short breaks and other events and, very importantly, when tickets for these events are being sold. Do please come early if you want tickets for any of these events as they are always popular and sell out quickly. Three very important updates:

If you have booked to go to the Carducci Quartet on Friday 25th January, the location for this event, which was shown on the programme card as the Royal Pump Rooms, has been changed by the organisers to Leamington Town Hall. Please also note that the 2 for 1 ticket offer is for the best seats if you book via the phone number on the programme card

The “Time the Concert” event on Saturday 16th February 2019 by the Coventry and Warwickshire Youth Orchestra starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available at £6 (a special price for our members) on the door.

We have arranged an afternoon tea party at Audley Binswood on Thursday 25th April at 3pm. Tickets for this, which has historically been a most pleasant and well supported event, are £10 per person and will be on sale at the February and, if necessary, the March lectures.

On short breaks, the trip to Berlin in May 2019 is now fully subscribed but tickets will be on sale at the February lecture for the September trip to Dublin.

After the very successful day visit to Blenheim in November (photo left), the next day visit is to Stonor and Hughenden on 8th May, the former home to the eponymous family for 850 years and the latter the home of Benjamin Disraeli and tickets will be available at the March lecture.

After the universally enthusiastic feedback from the last day of special interest on Chatsworth, I am looking forward in high expectation to the next day of special interest, ‘How to Look at Paintings: Unlocking Hidden Meanings in Art’ on Friday 15th March at the Warwickshire Golf Club with Stella Grace Lyons as the presenter. Tickets for this will be available at the February lecture.

Our heritage volunteers have continued to be busy over the Autumn. At the Herbert Museum in Coventry, the group have now finished the padded dots and dashes for a morse code activity at the Transport museum. In case you are wondering what this looks like the photo shows the word FINISHED in morse (reading downwards)

You may recall that this group made it through to the finals of the West Midlands Volunteer Awards but, unfortunately, they did not win but getting to the finals is a tribute to their work in itself-so many congratulations to them

The volunteers at the Leamington Museum have been condition checking and re-packing large textiles which are stored on large rollers. They are delighted to find that the WW1 bed cover that I referred to in my August newsletter is to go on permanent display at the Beamish Museum in County Durham.

After two years and 830 hours the volunteers at All Saints Church have now completed their repair and conservation of a large amount of ecclesiastical embroidery. I am delighted to tell you that, on 21st November, at a presentation that I and Anne Flower attended, they were presented by David Brass (the area head of heritage volunteers) with the Golden Jubilee award ‘In recognition of their outstanding contribution to Volunteering for the Arts Society’ so many congratulations to them.

The next project will be at the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick which will involve the cleaning and conservation of arms and armoury. If you would be interested in joining the group for this project please have a word with Anne Flower who tells me that all that is needed is interest in the collection and lots of elbow grease!

It is of considerable note and credit to all the heritage volunteer groups and Anne to report that all three groups over the last couple of years have been awarded the Golden Jubilee award or Golden star award for their work-ladies and gentlemen you can all stand very tall!

Our church recorders have now finished the record for St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic church and it will be presented to the parish priest, Father John Sharp at a lunch on 13th February 2019.

The group will be starting to record All Saints, Sherbourne in January 2019. It is  a lovely Gilbert Scott church and, according to Pevsner, ‘ is a generous and expensive estate church lavish in every detail’ It cost £20,898 in 1862-64!

Our head of church recording, Angela Watkins, is looking for additional recorders so, if you are interested, please contact Angela direct on 01926 624758.

Your society continues to be active in the young arts arena. In September, a pupil in St. Margaret’s School in Whitnash won 2nd prize in the West Midlands Young Arts competition to design a ‘My Birthday Tea Party’ plate in conjunction with Wedgewood, as part of the Arts Society’s golden jubilee celebrations. She was presented with a plate made from her design, a certificate and a cash award at Wedgewood by Denise Topolski, the National Head of Young Arts.

The future plans for young arts include-hopefully!-an exhibition of children’s work in the Leamington Art Gallery in Spring 2019.

I hope that as many of you as possible will get involved in some, or even all, your society’s activities over the next six months and I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in that time.

Shaun Pitt

Short – Berlin – Spring 2019

Spring 2019May 2nd to 7th
The Art and History of Berlin.

40 members will be flying from Luton and staying in the central 4 star Berlin Hotel.

We will focus especially on the abundant art and history of the city but will also be visiting Potsdam. There we will see  the delightful Sanssouci Palace and the Cecilienhof Palace, the venue of the Potsdam Conference between the victorious Allies in 1945. In Berlin itself there will be visit to the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, the Berlin Wall and the famous East Side Gallery. There will be private time to enjoy other things – perhaps  a cruise on the river Spree or, by contrast, a trip to the Topographie des Terrors, the Third Reich SS headquarters.

We will be visiting Kulturforum where we will have a guided tour of the Gemaldegalerie, housing one of the finest collections of European art. We finish by seeing the largest collection of French 18th century paintings outside France at the Charlottenburg Palace.

Short – Dublin – Autumn 2019

Autumn 2019September 16th to 20th
The Art and History of Dublin.

Bookings at our February 2019 lecture, and later lectures if places remain.

We will see modern and contemporary art at the Hugh Lane Gallery and 13,000 works of art in the National Gallery of Ireland. At Trinity College we will see the Book of Kells and we have a day in the Wicklow Mountains visiting Glendelough and Powerscourt House and gardens. Two other highly acclaimed attractions we visit are the Dublin Castle (guided tour) and the Irish Emigration Museum in Docklands.

Click here to download a flyer for this trip.

Short – Yorkshire – Autumn 2018

Yorkshire – September 21st – 25th 2018.

25 members stayed at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, and visited Newby Hall, Harewood House, York and the Minster, Hardwick Hall, Fountains Abbey, Temple Newsam  and, of course, Betty’s tea rooms!

Our first stop on the way to Harrogate was The Hepworth in Wakefield and was a highlight for many of us.

Update – August 2018

Dear Member

Welcome to the new season at The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa. I do hope that you have all been enjoying our beautifully warm, sunny summer-for once, not a sarcastic comment!!
As always, we have a full year of lectures, events and volunteering activities which I hope as many of you as possible will attend/get involved with and enjoy as we move past our 25th anniversary year and into our second quarter century.

Our programme secretary, Eithne Batt, has put together an outstanding programme of lectures, and it starts on Wednesday 5th September with Chloe Sayer lecturing on ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting.’– something that I would guess relatively few of us know a great deal about.

For those of you who plan to attend this lecture there are two important matters to be aware of:

1. As I mentioned at the lecture in July, the Ovo Energy Cycling Tour of Britain has a stage finishing in Leamington on the day of our first lecture. The result is that there will be various road closures and parking restrictions in Leamington on that day and, while we have confirmed that we are still able to use the Spa Centre for the lecture, I would strongly recommend that you allow more time than usual to make your way to the Spa Centre and for parking.

2. We have also reviewed the way that members register when you attend a lecture. The process of queueing at the registration desk to give your name and number has sometimes been somewhat tedious and has caused considerable congestion in the downstairs lobby area. Accordingly, from now on, all you will need to do is to show your programme card to the committee member inside the door as you arrive and they will ‘count’ you in. This does of course mean that you need to bring your programme card with you to each lecture that you attend; if you forget to do so then you will need to register at the desk as before. The membership desk will still be manned to deal with guests, visitors or any membership related queries that you may have.

As well as being on your programme card, full details of the lecture programme and synopses of the lectures are on our website ( It also has all the details of our days of special interest, day visits, short breaks and our volunteering activities so please do make use of it to keep yourself up to date with what is going on; it is a mine of useful information, easy to use, with useful links and, apart from anything else, you will see just how active your society is!

Your programme card also has details of the planned day visits, days of special interest and short breaks and when tickets are being sold for these events. Do please come early if you want to go on these events as they are always very popular. Tickets for the day visit to Blenheim Palace on Thursday 15th November and for the day of special interest ‘Duchess to housewife’ (on Chatsworth) on Friday 12th October will be on sale at the September lecture.

In terms of our short breaks, those for Yorkshire in September 2018 and Berlin in May 2019 are now both sold out but, if these trips are of interest to you, keep an eye out for the Southern Ireland tour in September/October 2019, tickets for which will be on sale at the February 2019 lecture.

Our heritage volunteers have been busy over the summer. At the Herbert Museum in Coventry, the group has recently completed a project for the pre school group sessions which involved making cushion covers in shades of blue and green with different textures. I am delighted to be able to report that these volunteers are through to the finals of the West Midlands Volunteer Awards which are given regionally by the West Midlands Museum Development programme; I will let you know how they fare in the finals in a later communication. They are also about to start a new project with the transport museum and I will update you on this in due course. The volunteers working in the Leamington Museum, have now completed the WW1 quilt and this is now included in an exhibition in the Art Gallery called ‘Are you in this?’ with an acknowledgement of your society’s involvement in the project.

The project at All Saints’ Church is in its final stages and photographs of the volunteers and their work will soon be on permanent display in the church. Three items of embroidery are currently being mounted and framed and will also form part of the permanent exhibition; if you attend All Saints, or are just visiting, do take the opportunity to see the work that the volunteers have done there.

Angela Watkins, who runs our highly regarded team of church recorders, is currently working with a group at St. Francis of Assisi in Baddesley Clinton. The fieldwork is now almost complete and collating and photography is under way and it is hoped that the record will be complete later this year.

We are always looking for new volunteers for both the heritage volunteers and church recorders so, if this is of interest to you, please do contact the relevant people; their contact details are on your programme card and on the website.

Your society has also been active in the Young Arts arena. In November, Jacquie Smithson, a mixed media artist specialising in felt making worked as an artist-in-residence at Round Oak School in Warwick. Round Oak School provides for students aged 11 – 18 who have a broad spectrum of special educational needs. All the young people at the school participated in making felt leaves, twigs, clouds and berries for a wall hanging which is now in the school’s entrance hall.
In December members of The Arts Society attended the Playbox Theatre in Warwick to see an excellent production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. The young actors put on a very professional and enjoyable performance.
Every year your society awards a bursary to a Foundation Year Student at Warwickshire College. This year the recipient is Sophie Ryan who is a Fashion/Textiles student.

Finally, if you are a new member, you will shortly receive an invitation to our new members coffee morning at Charlecote village hall at 10.30am on Thursday 11th October and I hope that as many as possible of you will be able to join myself, the Committee and other new members for what is always a pleasant and enjoyable morning.

I very much look forward to seeing and meeting as many of you as I can during the course of the season and I hope that you will thoroughly enjoy your membership of The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa.

Shaun Pitt

Wednesday 4th September 2019 – Temples, Tombs and Treasures: In Search of the Queen of Sheba

Temples, Tombs and Treasures: In Search of the Queen of Sheba


Wednesday 4th September 2019

Louise Schofield

This is the first lecture of the 2019/ 20 season.

The fame of the Queen of Sheba has lasted across the many intervening centuries since she made her epic journey from her distant land to the court of King Solomon.

A passage in the Bible’s Book of Kings has immortalised this Queen and the journey that she made, her camel caravan laden with gold and incense as gifts for the king of Jerusalem.

In this talk, Louise looks at how the Queen of Sheba has captured the imagination of great artists, inspired epic films and has led archaeologists to go in search of her land – a search that has led to discoveries of great temples, tombs and treasures in both the Yemen and Ethiopia.

Louise is an archaeologist who was Curator of Greek Bronze Age and Geometric Antiquities at the British Museum from 1987-2000. Her book, "The Mycenaeans", was co-published by the Getty Museum and the British Museum in 2007. She now writes, lectures and runs international archaeological projects – previously in south-eastern Turkey, Greece and Albania and currently in Ethiopia. She has just been appointed Visiting Professor of Archaeology at the American University of Rome.

Wednesday 3rd July 2019 – From Garbo to Garland: The Magical Art of Hollywood

From Garbo to Garland – The Magical Art of Hollywood


Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Dr Geri Parlby

Lights, Camera, Action! – inside stories of the art and artifice of the early decades of Hollywood.

This lecture covers the work of stills photographers, costumiers, publicists, actors and actresses and the movie moguls who made it all happen.

Geri is a former Fleet Street journalist and film publicist. She has a first class honours degree in History and Theology, a Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute and a Theology doctorate from Roehampton University in London. She has been lecturing for the past eleven years both in the UK and internationally. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Roehampton University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Note – This lecture will follow our AGM which will start at 1:30pm