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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


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

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

Update – July 2018

Dear Member

July has come round and we shall be holding our AGM on 4th July.  I do hope you will attend as it is an important date in our year when the Committee will be refreshed and we can hear what lies ahead next season.  We are also asking the Membership to affirm an updated and revised Constitution for the Society.  This year the meeting will be held at 10.30am so please arrive by 10.15am and, after a short break, the lecture will begin at 11.15am and is for both groups – morning and afternoon together.  This month it will be The Punch and Judy Show (A Subversive Symbol from Commedia Dell’Arte to the Present Day) by Bertie Pearce.  During the break there will be a short PowerPoint presentation showing events which have happened over the past year, designed not only to entertain you while you wait, but also to show how much we have achieved during the year.  We must thank Edwina McConville for undertaking this for us.

You will also have received last month, either by email or as hard copy,  your Membership Renewal Papers.  I remind you that your subscriptions are due by the end of this month – July 31st and any late applications will incur a re-joining fee.  Please bring your cheque books to the July meeting to ensure efficient renewed membership.

A renewal form can be downloaded by clicking on this link

Many of you who attended the celebration dinner marking the national Golden Jubilee of the Arts Society and the Silver Anniversary of our own Society, have sent messages to say how much you enjoyed the event and Kate Varney must be congratulated on the buzz which accompanied a most successful evening.  Keith Roberts’ help was invaluable, too, not only with respect to the microphone and audio system but also for the photographs which he took as a record of the occasion.  We thank them both.  Catherine Leahy, who had travelled from the north of Scotland to be with us, spoke very amusingly about the setting-up of RLSDFAS and was welcomed back by her many friends who were among the guests.  She was delighted to feel that she had picked up where she had left off and that the distance in time and in miles had not affected her relationship with the Society.

Lady Hamilton gave a most personal talk on the history of Walton Hall and some of its inhabitants, bringing to life the building and the complexities of high society as it was at the end of the nineteenth century, and which caused Warwickshire’s notorious scandal regarding Harriet Mordaunt and the Prince of Wales.

You may be interested to know, as it ties in beautifully with our September lecture, ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting’ that the Frida Kahlo exhibition has opened at the V and A.  Members can click on the link to the V and A on our website to find out more about it.

Our season will be drawing to a close, now, with the prospect of the Day Visit to Woburn Abbey  which Ann Pitt is organising on Wednesday 15th August, the last event in the calendar.  It has been another splendid year for us all and, as I take my leave as Chairman, I thank the Committee for making it so.

I look forward to seeing you all on 4th July for the AGM and lecture as detailed above.

With my best wishes

Update – June 2018

Dear Members

This is the time of year when we prepare for our AGM in July.  You will shortly be receiving the paperwork for this meeting either by email or in hard copy.   Those members who are not on email will be able to collect the paperwork at the June Lecture Meeting and we hope as many people who can will take advantage of this in order to reduce our postal costs which, nowadays, are considerable.

At the same time, there will also be the chance to renew your membership and the Renewal Papers will also be available for collection before they go in the post, so if you know anyone who is not on email, do tell them of this arrangement.  Naturally, we do hope you will want to renew your membership and this year you will be asked to complete an ‘opt-in’ section which gives the Society permission to hold and handle your contact details.  All assurances of our observance of the legal requirements will be listed on our Data Protection Policy a copy of which you will also find in your renewal papers, so there will quite a bundle for you either to download or to receive in paper form.

On to more social matters, Ann Pitt took a party on a Day Visit to Oxford on May 8th which was great fun and included a visit to the Ashmolean Musem and a special lecture on the history of its collections. The sun shone and the day went very well. We thank Ann for her meticulous planning.

Several of our members took the opportunity of attending the special service of celebration for the Golden Jubilee in Westminster Abbey on 16th May.  It was a most impressive and moving occasion at which our Royal Patron, The Duchess of Gloucester, was present.  Actor Simon Callow, musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews and poet Mike Garry took part in the programme and there were compositions from Matthew Sheeran and Giacomo Smith. It was followed by the National AGM at Westminster Hall, for those representing their societies.  Sir Roy Strong gave an eloquent and impassioned appreciation of NADFAS/The Arts Society, thanking the rank and file volunteers who run the societies and who have over the fifty years contributed so much for the fabric of our heritage and fostered a love of the Arts across the world.  Our own member, Shaun Pitt, retiring Trustee and National Treasurer after 6 years’ service, explained the difficulties of the last financial year following the collapse of a travel company affiliate but reassured and encouraged the meeting by showing that the finances were in fact showing positive signs of recovery and should be back on track by 2020.  He departed with customary optimism, rocking the audience with a good joke well told, and it was clear that his fellow trustees would greatly miss his good advice and his humour on the board.  You will see Shaun’s name on your AGM papers as he has been proposed as our next Chairman.  Florian Schweizer, Chief Executive, spoke on the need for keeping up with modern trends of communication and management and the new National Chairman, Julie Goldsmith, succeeding outgoing June Robinson, was introduced to the assembly at the meeting.

The Leamington Spa Photographic Society held their annual award presentation and exhibition launch earlier this month at which, as a sponsor, I represented the Society.  The photographic display showed images which were wide-ranging in their subject matter and extremely impressive.  There is great talent locally and, even closer to home, among our own membership.  It was a most professional exhibition and highly enjoyable.

Church Trails: I wonder if anyone might be interested in composing a Church Trail.  It would be super if an individual or a couple of people working together might take on another church in our area.  There is support on hand for anyone who would like to do this as we have gathered quite a lot of experience from the excellent ones which we have done in the past.  Please let me know if the idea appeals to you.

Publicity:  The small Publicity Group also has spaces for anyone who wishes to help promote the  Arts Society by keeping up our profile in the local press and through advertising where possible and effective.   Please contact our President, Felicity Furber, or me if you are willing to help.

The June Lecture will be on Wednesday June 6th when we shall learn all about Basingstoke and its contribution to World Culture.  Rupert Willoughby will enlighten and, no doubt, surprise us, too.

See you then,

Best wishes
Elizabeth Hunter (Chairman)

Update – May 2018

Dear Members

Congratulations to Angela Watkins, our church recorders’ group organiser, who was recently presented with a Golden Jubilee award by the Chairman of the West Midlands Area, Roly Trevor-Jones.  This is “in recognition and appreciation of her outstanding contribution to volunteering for The Arts Society”.  Angela has been group organiser almost since the inception of the church recording group in 1996. The group has recorded seven churches and is currently working at St Francis of Assisi, the Roman Catholic church in Baddesley Clinton.  Angela recently retired as the West Midlands Church Recorders’ Area Representative, having been in post for twelve years.

It is timely in this May update to mention the issue of GDPR which many of you will know is on the horizon. In order to comply with the new legislation concerning General Data Protection Regulation which is coming into force at the end of May, the Committee now has a Data Management Policy, available on request, which states which personal data the Society may keep with regard to members and how it will store and manage it.  Consequently, the Membership Renewal Form which is issued annually, will include wording to reassure members that the data will be used only for the purposes of running the Society efficiently and effectively.   You will be sent a copy of the Data Management Policy along with your papers for Membership Renewal and it will be available on the website.

At our May lecture, we shall have as our guest the West Midlands Area Chairman, Carolyn Trevor-Jones. She will say a few words before the lectures, so please be seated a few minutes earlier than usual to allow for this.

There are still some tickets for the dinner marking the national Golden Jubilee of the Arts Society and the Silver Anniversary of our own Society which is being held at Walton Hall near Wellesbourne.   They are very reasonably priced at £50 and include a drink of bubbly or soft drink on arrival.  I must say, the menu looks delicious and the setting will be magnificent.  The guest speaker will be Elizabeth, Lady Hamilton, biographer and historian whose family owns the estate and whose knowledge of the Hall and its history is personal and extensive.  It will be a memorable celebration and great fun. So add a touch of romance and glamour to your lives and spend a long summer evening with us.  The date is Wednesday 13th June, the time 7.00 for 7.30pm and Kate Varney will be selling tickets at the May meeting.

John Clark is just back from the wonderful tour he planned for members in Provence.  They have had a full schedule each day with visits to both traditional sights and more, including a boat trip. John’s own review runs like this: “Terence, our guide for the trip, was superb, full of facts, jolly and did his homework. This was especially useful when advising, negotiating and booking for our large group in restaurants. We visited Cézanne’s studio in Aix, kept just as he left it all those years ago. In Arles we ate at Café le Soir, the glowing pool of yellow which Van Gogh captured so brilliantly.  The Carrières de Luminères comprising thousands of digitalised images of works of art projected onto all the former quarry’s surfaces, moving to the rhythm of a musical soundtrack, was probably my favourite event.  Altogether a good show!” …. And he picked the best week of the year so far for it!

Very recently, indeed, Anne Flower with her customary care and emphasis on sharing, arranged for the Leamington Groups of Volunteers from the Art Gallery and All Saints Church to go over to Coventry to the group working at the Herbert Art Gallery, to see what their work involved.  It was a very useful morning of ‘exchange’ and both groups enjoyed discovering in more detail what the projects involved, quite apart from visiting the museum itself.

Ann Pitt is taking the Day Visit to Oxford on May 8th which is proving a very popular event with its walking tour and museum visit.  We hope you have a very good day out.

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 2nd May for the lecture on Piero della Francesca by Shirley Smith.

Best wishes,
Elizabeth Hunter (Chairman)

Update – April 2018

Dear Members

Our last meeting was surely a marvellously sunny oasis in the long months of wintry weather which were February and March. But this weekend heralds Spring and the advancing of the hour so let us hope that we can get out to do what we have planned.

First, there’s a message from Head Office which you will also be receiving in a separate email. In addition to the printed quarterly magazine The Arts Society is introducing a monthly e-newsletter curated by its editorial team and delivering exciting new content directly into your email inbox at no extra cost. The newsletter will include even more exclusive interviews, background stories, competitions, special offers and updates on events and exhibitions. Apparently it’s a must-read for lovers of the arts! As you may know, data protection laws are changing so if you want to receive the newsletter please ensure that you opt in to receive it (you can opt out at anytime). The Society will send one further reminder email and then send no further electronic communication, so please sign up now by going onto The (National) Arts Society website or by responding to the email which is being forwarded to you shortly by our own Arts Society.

At this month’s meeting, Kate Varney will be selling tickets for the Biennial Dinner on Wednesday 13th June. The price is £50 per ticket for a delicious three-course meal. This event is also going to mark the Golden Jubilee of The Arts Society and our own Silver Anniversary which will be in October this year. Walton Hall, near Wellesbourne, is the impressive venue for the event, set as it is in extensive parkland by the side of a lake and shielded behind by the wooded Friz Hill, on the edge of the Avon Valley. It will be a wonderful venue for such a celebration. The original 16th century house was remodelled by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1858 at the request of the then owner, Sir Charles Mordaunt, whose infamous divorce proceedings, all-too-publicly citing the Prince of Wales, was related by historian Elizabeth Hamilton, in her book ‘A Warwickshire Scandal’. We are delighted that Lady Hamilton, herself, will be our speaker at the dinner; so do mark Wednesday 13th June in your diaries and remember to bring your cheque books to the April and May Meetings.

John Clark (Short Breaks) is very busy at the moment as he taking the tour to Provence at the end of the month. We wish all those who are going a wonderful time and we envy you! He has asked me say that although there is a very comfortable number of people signed up, there are still a few places remaining for the Short Break to Yorkshire: September 21st to 25th 2018. Please contact John on 07973 322159 if you want further information or would like to book. The cost is £560 and is for 4 nights in the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate. The trip will take in Newby Hall, Harewood House, York and the Minster, Fountains Abbey…..and much more, including, of course, Betty’s Tea Rooms!

Ann Pitt is running a waiting list for tickets for the Day Visit to Oxford on Wednesday 9th May, so get in touch with her if you want to be added to the list. It’s always worth putting your name down on a waiting list as people’s plans do change and a place might come up.

The New Members’ Coffee Morning, which was postponed from last October to Friday March 2nd was a casualty of the Beast from the East and had to be cancelled at the eleventh hour. However, the Committee has arranged yet another date, Friday May 4th and, as before, it will be held at 10.30am at Charlecote Village Hall with access to the church afterwards. Several projects in which our Society has been involved will be on display there, the Church Record completed a couple of years ago and a Church Trail. This event is by invitation and for all those members who have joined since last March.

I had the great privilege last week of attending a Poppies Workshop for Young Carers in Warwick (organised by Matt Deakin) which was being funded by our financial support of the Warwick Poppies 2018 Appeal. Artist Annette Smyth together with Brenda Watts (one of our members) were helping the young carers make and compile large poppies for the display at St. Mary’s in November this year. It was great fun, wonderfully messy with a great deal of scarlet fabric stiffener and components made from mostly reclaimed or donated materials. I thank Helen Fitzpatrick (another of our members, who is one of the organisers of Warwick Poppies 2018), who had set the visit up as it proved to be a very interesting and worthwhile enterprise, helping the Young Carers as well as the Warwick Poppies Appeal in a community project. Photos of the visit are on the Warwick Poppies 2018 Facebook page.

Those of you who have seen the latest quarterly Review will be pleased to note that the Gold Star Award for our Volunteers at the Herbert Art Gallery has been included in the Societies’ News – page 65. Unfortunately, they have edited out both the photograph and the mention of the Herbert Art Gallery or Coventry, which renders the piece less useful, but I have persuaded myself that we should be pleased that our Society has once again achieved recognition in these pages and we congratulate once more our volunteers there.

I have been asked to remind you, if you are interested, to apply for the West Midlands Area Day of Special Interest – “Two Wrekin Gems” – at Tong on 19th July 2018. Details are on the West Midlands Area website.

Lastly, a little alert: if anyone wishes to raise a Resolution at the AGM on July 4th please give notice in writing to the Secretary of The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa, Mrs Janet Looney, at least 6 weeks prior to that meeting. Any such resolution must show the name of the proposer and seconder and shall be included in the agenda of the meeting. Contact details for Janet Looney are on the programme card.

I forward to seeing you at the April Lecture Meeting on 4th April for our lecture on “The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces: religious architecture of the world” with lecturer Jon Cannon.

Until then, best wishes,

Update – March 2018

Dear Members

PLEASE NOTE: The new members’ coffee morning scheduled for Friday 2nd March has been cancelled due to the inclement weather forecast.

February is so short a month that it’s time for another update about what our Arts Society has to offer and what it’s been busy with.

First of all, I hope those of you who live in the Leamington Area saw the publicity in the Observer giving details of the Mayor, Caroline Evetts’, visit to us at the February Lecture Meeting. They were very quick off the mark with their story, complete with picture (see below), and I thank our publicity team, Judith Gallimore and Felicity and Hugh Furber for getting it into the press. She very much enjoyed the lecture and who knows, may yet join the Society.

Ann Pitt will be selling tickets for the Day Visit to Oxford at the next Lecture Meeting on March 7th so please bring a cheque book if you want to join the group. It should be very interesting as it will be taking in the New College Art Collection as well as a visit to the Ashmolean. There will be lunch in the lecture theatre at the Ashmolean, followed by a private lecture, which is not available to the public, on the history of the museum and its collections, after which, charged with what you have learnt, you will be free to explore the museum. It sounds a very good trip and I hope you are tempted to sign up. Tickets will be £45.

Next month, we shall be selling tickets for the Bi-ennial Dinner in June. This event is also going to mark the Golden Jubilee of The Arts Society and our own Silver Anniversary which will be in October this year. It will be a wonderful venue for such a celebration, so do mark Wednesday 13th June in your diaries and remember that we shall be selling tickets for it at the April and May Meetings.

There are still a few places remaining for the Short Break to Yorkshire: September 21st to 25th 2018. Please contact John Clark on 07973 322159 if you want further information or would like to book. The cost is £560 and is for 4 nights in the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate. The trip will take in Newby Hall, Harewood House, York and the Minster, Fountains Abbey…..and much more, including, of course, Betty’s Tea Rooms!

Those of you who supported the Joglaresa concert on February 20th will know what a superb evening it was and how vibrant their playing turned out to be. The young musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience, as we were treated to songs in mediaeval Spanish, Arabic, Judeo Catalan and more, played on modern replicas of ancient instruments including fiddles with five strings, and two harps, not to mention pipes made out of a sheep’s hide and all sorts of tambourines and drums. It was marvellous to see so many Arts Society members in the audience and we went home a happy and merry band, pleased to have been a sponsor of this concert.

I look forward to seeing you at the March Lecture Meeting on 7th March when we shall be learning about ‘Painters of Provence’ courtesy of Ms Juliet Heslewood – a lecture which is designed to tie in beautifully with our trip to Provence in April.

I look forward to seeing you there,

Elizabeth Hunter (Chairman)

Leamington mayor joins The Arts Society for lecture

Mayor's visit
A special guest joined The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa for an historical anniversary.

Mayor Caroline Evetts attended a talk on ‘250 Years of the Royal Academy of Arts, London’ at the Royal Spa Centre.

She was welcomed by chairman Elizabeth Hunter and treated to lunch following the talk.

Photos show:
(left) Carolyn Voss, Programme Secretary, Councillor Caroline Evetts and Rosalind Whyte, Lecturer
(right) Elizabeth Hunter, Chairman, Councillor Caroline Evetts and Felicity Furber, President

Update – January 2018

Christmas already seems a rather distant memory and we are looking forward to what 2018 holds. It will be a big year for The Arts Society and also for us, The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa for while The Arts Society celebrates its Golden Jubilee, we shall be embarking on the year of our Silver Jubilee. There is much to celebrate in the success of our organisations and much to be thankful for as we look back over the decades of enjoyment and enlightenment they have given us and the part they have played in the wider community, serving the Arts.

Since our last lecture in November, a lively group attended a most interesting and enjoyable Day of Special Interest with talks from the excellent Sandra Pollard on Augustus and Gwen John and which was held at the Warwickshire Golf Club Conference Centre. Not only were the lectures extremely interesting but the venue, also, proved to be a great success with gorgeous views and plenty of space for the audience to congregate. Kate Varney has once again, scored a hit with her ideas and planning. Since then, some of the Committee have and, perhaps some of the membership will have, also, seen the Playbox production of The Wizard of Oz. As a society we contribute to the running of this outstanding enterprise for children which educates and develops our local budding actors, who start from a very young age. It was a most impressive production, very professionally performed and directed and well worth fitting into the Christmas schedule.

The first event in our calendar for 2018 will be the New Year Tea Party which is being held on Tuesday 23rd January 2018 from 3.00 – 5.00pm at The Audley, Binswood Avenue, Leamington Spa. Rosie Langman has kindly organised it and you would be most welcome. It would make a good opportunity to meet up after the winter break and I believe there are a few spaces left at £10 a ticket. If you would like to come, please get in touch with Rosie or me shortly as she will need to finalise numbers with the caterers.

This year we are once again sponsoring a concert with Leamington Music. It will be performed by the Celtic/Early music/folk/Jazz ensemble ‘Joglaresa’ on Tuesday February 20th 7.30pm at St Mary’s Warwick. Joglaresa has been described as Early music’s ‘bit of rough’ – this rebellious London-based medieval/folk ensemble pushes, and often transcends, the limits of what is thought of as early music…. Members of our Arts Society are open to a 2 for 1 ticket offer on application to Leamington Music – 01926 497000.

The New Members’ Coffee Morning, which was postponed from October, will now be held on Friday March 2nd at 10.30am at Charlecote Village Hall with access to the church afterwards. Several endeavours which our Society has been involved in will be on display, one of which is a Church Trail. This event is by invitation and for all those members who have joined since last March.

On the subject of Church Trails, our ‘team’, which has devised these in the past, has completed one for Coventry Cathedral Trail. As it is a most important building featuring particularly notable works of art within it, it deserves especial credit and you will find it has received it in the latest edition of The Review, page 70. Congratulations to Sally Howells, Rosemary Jewel-Clark for the trail itself, and Keith Roberts for his IT help towards the exceptional work they have put into producing such an interesting and exemplary Church Trail.

We are looking forward to our first lecture of 2018 on February 7th when Rosalind Whyte covers 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts. At this meeting tickets for the Autumn Short Break to Yorkshire will be on sale. Later, at our March meeting, there will be tickets sold for the Day Visit to Oxford which is in early May and coming up later, in April and May, will be the chance to buy tickets for our Biennial Dinner which this year will be especially celebrating our Silver Anniversary and The Arts Society Golden Jubilee.

There will be plenty going on around the country in respect of events to celebrate the milestone of the National Gold Jubilee. I shall list some of the events for you in case they are of interest but do go to the national Arts Society website if you want further information. Highlights include:
A major exhibition – Rhythm & Reaction; The Age of Jazz in Britain at London’s Two Temple Place.
Dates: Saturday 27th January – Sunday 22nd April 2018
Opening Times: Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 10am – 4:30pm
Wednesday Late: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 11am – 4:30pm
Closed Tuesday & Easter Sunday

Our True Gold Initiative: During one weekend in September The Arts Society will partner with museums, galleries and heritage sites across the UK and Europe to offer unique events for members of the public. Our True Gold will highlight the treasures in their collections, as well as our volunteers and the wonderful work they do.

The Great Exhibition of the North 2018 is a summer of amazing exhibits, vibrant street performance, cutting edge culture and magical experiences. Newcastle-Gateshead was chosen to host the event, with Great Exhibition Board chairman Sir Gary Verity saying “Newcastle-Gateshead put forward an exciting and innovative bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North. Their ambitious plans will showcase fantastic venues across the city and highlight their unique heritage, culture and design. People from across the country can expect an amazing show in summer 2018”.
The Arts Society will present itself through a series of lectures in the heart of the city and Societies across the North are working together to contribute to this celebration of Northern arts and culture. This is an initiative of local, area and national teams who work together to make a mark at the Great Exhibition of the North.

And finally there is Florian’s Run
In 2018, to commemorate the Golden Anniversary, Florian Schweizer, The Arts Society Chief Executive, will run 50 10km distances to raise funds and awareness for the work of The Arts Society and the activities at the grassroots of the organisation. His itinerary will cover locations around the UK and abroad to reflect the diverse communities and landscapes our Societies operate in, as well as the artistic and heritage connections in these areas.
Starting in January 2018 with the first Society in the Chilterns to coincide with the Patricia Fay lecture, Florian will visit places where our Societies have local impact and connect with historic buildings, arts centres and many other venues of artistic interest. Along the way he will take in important sites such as Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Angel of the North, the potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, The Scallop in Aldeburgh, Conwy Castle and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. This will be an opportunity to meet with members and volunteers to celebrate the anniversary and to raise funds to support Young Arts and our other charitable activities.
To support The Arts Society’s charitable activities please donate here:

I think you will agree that it will be a busy year ahead. I look forward to meeting you along the way.

Best wishes
Elizabeth Hunter (Chairman)

Leamington mayor joins The Arts Society for lecture

Mayor's visit
A special guest joined The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa for an historical anniversary.

Mayor Caroline Evetts attended a talk on ‘250 Years of the Royal Academy of Arts, London’ at the Royal Spa Centre.

She was welcomed by chairman Elizabeth Hunter and treated to lunch following the talk.

Photos show:
(left) Carolyn Voss, Programme Secretary, Councillor Caroline Evetts and Rosalind Whyte, Lecturer
(right) Elizabeth Hunter, Chairman, Councillor Caroline Evetts and Felicity Furber, President

Update – November 2017

I hope to see you at our meeting on November 1st.  Before we break for Christmas and the New Year I should like to remind you what lies up ahead and tell you what has been happening during October.

Volunteers – I am delighted to report that, since the last meeting, the Leamington Art Gallery Group of Heritage Volunteers was presented with a Gold Star Award by David Brass – the Area Representative for Heritage Volunteers.  This award is a new one given by the Arts Society West Midland Area to individuals and groups who have shown outstanding commitment in their work.  We are very proud that their service has been recognised.

Even better still, we have just heard that the Volunteer Group at the Herbert Art Gallery who have been meeting for over 7 years, week in week out, have also been awarded the Gold Star Award.    Please don’t think this is ‘normal’ or that the awards are two a penny!  I am enormously proud of what they have achieved and delighted that our Society has received recognition twice over in this way.  This appreciation of the group’s expertise at the Herbert Art Gallery extends much more widely than just among us at The Arts Society.  It is acknowledged by other heritage institutions, and enhances both the reputation of our Society and that of the gallery.

The Day of Special InterestFriday 17th November at 10.00am  – is taking place at a new venue, namely, The Warwickshire, Leek Wootton.  There is a waiting list only for this day, which will be exploring The Lives and Works of Two Contrasting Artistic Siblings – Augustus and Gwen John, with lecturer Mrs Sandra Pollard.

New Year Tea Party –  Those of you who would like to come to this event will need to know that it will be held on 23rd January 2018 at 3.00pm – 5.00pm at The Audley, Binswood Avenue.  Rosie Langman will be selling tickets at £10 at the November Meeting.  If you need to get in touch with her, her telephone number is 01926 833244

Playbox Theatre Christmas production – Wizard of Oz -.  Our Society supports this wonderful young people’s theatre.  We thoroughly recommend a visit to their Christmas Production.

Warwick Poppies –  The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa is pleased to be supporting the Warwick Poppies project at St Mary’s which culminates on Armistice Day 2018 with a display of over a thousand hand-crafted poppies to commemorate the fallen.  Information about the project is to hand at the November lecture by our registration desk together with a instructions on how to make poppies yourselves as well as being available on their website.  If you are a knitter, crochet worker or enjoy handicrafts, do support the project by contributing your own commemorative handmade poppy.  The funds raised from the appeal will go to helping the young and the elderly in Warwick.

And now just a final reminder that we now have a two month break for Christmas and our next lecture will be on Wednesday 7th February 2018 – ‘250 Years of the Royal Academy’  by lecturer Rosalind Whyte.

Elizabeth Hunter