All posts by Keith Roberts

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 (www.tasrls.org.uk). 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
Chairman

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

Lecture_2018_Louise_Schofield

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

Lecture_2018_Geri_Parlby

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

Wednesday 5th June 2019 – Thank You Your Majesty: the Royal Art Collection

Thank You Your Majesty: the Royal Art Collection

Lecture_2018_Linda_Collins

Wednesday 5th June 2019

Linda Collins

We look at the founding of the Royal Collection with Henry VIII and we then work chronologically through our Monarchs looking at items they brought in to the Royal Collection.

This gives us a good idea of their personal taste – and there are some surprises! George IV would bankrupt himself for diamonds and yet his taste in art was for small genre pictures. Charles I was probably our greatest connoisseur of art. He enjoyed acquiring Italian paintings by important artists and our Royal Collection at this time would have rivalled any in the world.

On the other hand, it was said of William IV that he couldn’t tell a decent painting from a window shutter!

Linda was employed by the Historic Royal Palaces for more than twenty years before becoming an independent lecturer. She holds a BA(Hons) in Early Italian art, an MA in the works of Georges de la Tour, and a Diploma in French language and Culture.

Linda describes working amongst the paintings in the Royal Collection as being “fascinating and compelling”. She was involved in the opening of the New Cumberland Art Gallery at Hampton Court Palace, which has brought together works by Caravaggio, Holbein, Rembrandt, Gentileschi (both father and daughter), Gainsborough and many more in a beautiful historic setting.

Wednesday 1st May 2019 – The Art and Culture of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

The Art and Culture of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Lecture_2018_Gavin_Plumley

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Gavin Plumley

At the turn of the last century Vienna was the capital of a vast empire and one of the most exciting artistic laboratories in the world. It produced painters such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oscar Kokoschka, architects like Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffman, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the composer Gustav Mahler and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

This lecture looks at these and other figures in the context of the society in which they worked and asks how and why the City of Dreams became a cultural hotbed around 1900.

Gavin is a writer and broadcaster. Well known for his work on Vienna and Central European music and culture, he is equally at home on Broadway and in Tolstoy’s Russia. His work can be found in newspapers, magazines and opera and concert programmes around the world. He appears frequently on BBC Radio 3, both as a guest and as a presenter, and on BBC Radio 4. Gavin also edits other people’s writing, as a commissioning editor for the Salzburg Festival and for the Oxford Lieder Festival.

Wednesday 3rd April 2019 – The Horse and Modern Art from George Stubbs to Mark Wallinger

The Horse and Modern Art from George Stubbs to Mark Wallinger

Lecture_2018_Nicholas Watkins

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Dr Nicholas Watkins

The horse is so rooted within the psyche of the Western imagination that it has maintained its expressive power through the centuries.

Stubbs, the greatest horse painter of all time, depicted the English Thoroughbred as a lean, mean racing machine. Degas learnt from sequential photography how to represent the mechanical movements of a galloping horse. For Munnings the horse represented tradition, a defining image of Englishness, while for the Fascists and Nazis the horse was a symbol of authority.

In Guernica (1937) the most moving protest painting of the twentieth century, Picasso employed an agonised horse in its death throes to evoke the destruction of the civilian population by the German Condor Legion flying for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The lecture concludes with the very diverse ways contemporary artists have made use of the equestrian image including Mark Wallinger’s planned but as yet unrealised gigantic 50 metre horse in Kent.

Nicholas is Emeritus Reader in the Department of the History of Art and Film, University of Leicester, curator, critic, author and lecturer. He is a regular contributor to The Burlington Magazine and other leading art journals. He lectures extensively to universities, museums, art galleries and art societies.

Wednesday 6th March 2019 – The Music of Paint

The Music of Paint

Lecture_2018_Peter_Medhurst

Wednesday 6th March 2019

Peter Medhurst

Some of the finest paintings in Western Art contain references to the world of music – Holbein’s The Ambassadors, Vermeer’s Young Woman at the Virginals, Gainsborough’s portraits of 18th century composers – and often the musical element carries intriguing and complex symbolism.

Peter Medhurst selects a range of masterpieces from the 16th to the 18th centuries and matches them with live music that stems from the exact time the paintings were created.

Peter’s work as singer, pianist and lecturer-recitalist has taken him all over the world. In the last few years he has toured New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and made frequent tours in Europe. Closer to home, he has presented events at the Barbican, St John’s Smith Square, and the Royal Festival Hall. He has also directed presentations at the Wallace Collection, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, linking the visual arts with the world of 17th & 18th century music making.

Wednesday 3rd February 2019 – Votes for Women! Art and the Suffragettes

Votes for Women! Art and the Suffragettes

Lecture_2018_Justine_Hopkins

Wednesday 3rd February 2019

Dr Caroline Shenton

This lecture explores the story of the suffragettes through their ‘pro and anti’ portrayals in cartoons, postcards and paintings – as well as their own artistic productions.

It will also consider the Suffragettes’ impact on the Houses of Parliament itself and how the Parliamentary Art Collection has responded to criticism that its own collection is too ‘male, stale and pale’.

By turns amusing, infuriating, enraging and ultimately inspiring, you will come away from this talk with a new appreciation of how the campaign for equal electoral rights was won by and through art.

Caroline is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her first popular history book, “The Day Parliament Burned Down”, won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it ‘microhistory at its absolute best’ while Dan Jones considered it ‘glorious’. Its highly-acclaimed sequel, “Mr Barry’s War”, about the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and was described by Lucy Worsley as ‘a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful’. Caroline teaches Public History to postgraduates at the University of Dundee, and during 2017 was a Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library.

Wednesday 7th November 2018 – Contrapuntal Forms: Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost

Contrapuntal Forms: Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost

Lecture_2018_Justine_Hopkins

Wednesday 7th November 2018

Justine Hopkins

In 1950 Barbara Hepworth asked Terry Frost to be her studio assistant in carving Contrapuntal Forms, the monumental stone sculpture she was sending to the 1951 Festival of Britain. She was already widely known for her abstract sculpture while he was a mature student returning to painting after spending much of the war in a prison camp.

They were neighbours in Cornwall (Terry was born and raised in Leamington), and their continued explorations of form, space, shape and colour in the changing Cornish light created works which brought them both international reputation and national honour.

Justine is a freelance writer and lecturer in Art History. She has a BA Hons degree from Bristol University, an MA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute and a PhD from Birkbeck College, London.

She has worked as an Art History lecturer and writer for Bristol, London, Oxford and Cambridge Universities; Tate Britain and Tate Modern; the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery; the Victoria and Albert Museum; Sotheby’s, Christies’ and other independent institutions.

Wednesday 3rd October 2018 – The Extraordinary Life of Misia Sert “Queen of Paris” 1877-1950

The Extraordinary Life of Misia Sert “Queen of Paris” 1877-1950

Lecture_2018_Julian_Halsby

Wednesday 3rd October 2018

Julian Halsby

Born Marie Godebska, Misia was brought up in Paris and Brussels and became a pupil of the concert pianist and composer Gabriel Faure. She married the owner of an important art magazine and was painted by Bonnard, Toulouse–Lautrec and Renoir. After her husband lost his money and the marriage broke down, she married a wealthy industrialist and became a patron of artists and musicians.

Her third marriage was to a Spanish painter, and Misia became involved with the Ballets Russes, Stravinsky and Satie. Misia became close friends with Coco Chanel in 1917.

A graduate of Emmanuel College Cambridge, Julian is an art historian, specialising in the period from about 1850 to 1920, a time rich with amazingly talented artists from the Pre-Raphaelites, via Impressionists and Post-Impressionists to the Social Realism of the 19th century adopted by the Newlyn School and many English painters. Julian has written seven books and published many articles. He is also a practising artist and an elected member of the Royal Society of British Artists.