Category Archives: Lectures


Wednesday 1st July – Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees From Nazi Europe And Their Contribution To British Visual Culture

Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees From Nazi Europe And Their Contribution To British Visual Culture

Wednesday 1st July 2020

Monica Bohm-Duchen

Despite the traumatic nature of their dislocation and the obstacles they often encountered on arrival in the UK, those who fled here from Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s made a deep, pervasive and long-lasting contribution to British culture. Focussing on the visual arts, this new lecture will examine the nature of this contribution, embracing not only familiar names such as Gombrich, Kokoschka, Moholy-Nagy, Schwitters and Heartfield, but also lesser-known figures such as Albert Reuss, Josef Herman and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky.

At a time when the issue of immigration is much debated, this lecture serves as a reminder of the importance of cultural cross-fertilisation and of the deep, long-lasting and wide-ranging contribution that refugees make to British life.

Monica is an independent London-based writer and an Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck College since 2005.  She has lectured for institutions such as Tate, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Open University, Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art.  She is the initiator and Creative Director of the Insiders/ Outsiders arts festival, and as such she hosted a whole series of online events earlier this month to mark National Refugees’ Week. Among her many publications, her book “Art and the Second World War” was nominated for the William M. B. Berger Prize for Art History and the National Award for Arts Writing, USA.

This lecture was streamed online at 11:00am on Wednesday 1st July 2020.
Members received an invitation by email to join the lecture.

Wednesday 5th August 2020 – The Good Life: Gimson and the Barnsleys – Inventing the Cotswold Style

The Good Life: Gimson and the Barnsleys – Inventing the Cotswold Style

Wednesday 5th August 2020

Anne Anderson

Cabinet at Rodmarton Manor

Cabinet at Rodmarton Manor
Image supplied by the lecturer

Discover the talents of Ernest Gimson and Ernest and Sidney Barnsley, influential figures of the Arts and Crafts movement. From setting up workshops to establishing ‘the Cotswold style’, these men have inspired generations of designers and makers.

Desiring to ‘live close to nature’, Gimson and the Barnsleys found Pinbury Park, near Cirencester.   In 1900, Gimson and Ernest Barnsley set up a small furniture workshop in Cirencester, moving to larger premises at Daneway House, Sapperton, an idyllic medieval manor house. Although their partnership dissolved, Gimson and his skilled cabinet makers established a ‘Cotswold style’ while Sidney Barnsley designed and made his own furniture.

With a first degree in archaeology and a PhD in English, Anne was a senior lecturer in Art and Design History at Southampton Solent University for fourteen  years.

She has held several prestigious fellowships and is currently a tutor for the V&A Learning Academy.  A specialist in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement, Anne’s book on The Perseus Series was published for the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at Tate Britain in 2018.

Her career as an international speaker has taken her all over the world, including Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Leamington Spa in November 2012. We are looking forward to her return, even if only in cyberspace.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 5th August 2020 at 11:00am.

Click here for our next online event

Tuesday 11th August 2020 – The Old East End – A Virtual Tour

The Old East End – A Virtual Tour

Tuesday 11th August 2020

Pepe Martinez

Cabinet at Rodmarton Manor

The Arrival Memorial
Liverpool Street Station

Image: Wjh31 Own Work
Used under Creative Commons licence

The East End is one of London’s most fascinating and dynamic districts.  It is essentially the story of immigration, wave after wave of people coming to London to seek refuge and look for a better life.

The Old East End Virtual tour tells their story.  Using powerful images, video and Google street view, our journey takes us from the arrival of French Huguenots in the 1680s through to the more than 10,000 Jewish Kindertransport children who arrived at Liverpool Street station in 1939. 

Pepe Martinez is an award winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide.  He was born in the East End and has lived there all his life. He is an accredited Institute of Tourist Guiding Trainer and is currently tutoring on the London Blue Badge training course.

This “virtual tour” was streamed online on Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 2:00pm.

Click here for our September lecture

Wednesday 2nd September 2020 – Banned: Savitsky and the Secret Hoard of Avant-Garde Art

Banned: Savitsky and the Secret Hoard of Avant-Garde Art

Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum

Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum at Nukus, Uzbekistan

Author: ChanOJ Own work
Used under Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Chris Aslan Alexander

Russian Avant-Garde Art flourished during the first thirty years of the 20th Century, but as Stalin rose to power all but Socialist Realist expressions of art were banned. To own anything else was dangerous, and to start collecting it was unthinkable; yet that is exactly what Igor Savitsky did: he amassed the world’s second largest collection of Russian Avant-Garde art.

The remote location of the State Museum of Karakalpakstan, near the south shores of the Aral Sea, meant that Savitsky was able to get away with such subversive activity because even the authorities in Moscow were a little hazy as to where exactly Karakalpakstan was. Savitsky promoted Russian artists sent to Central Asia in exile as well as the first Central Asian artists to paint their own people and landscapes.

Chris spent his childhood in Turkey and in war-torn Beirut. After school he spent two years at sea before studying media and journalism at Leicester. After university he moved to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, where he established a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries.

After a year in the UK writing A Carpet Ride to Khiva, he spent three years in the Pamirs in Tajikistan, training yak herders to comb their yaks for their cashmere-like down. Next came two years in Kyrgyzstan, living in the world’s largest natural walnut forest and establishing a wood-carving workshop. Chris has recently finished rowing and studying at Oxford, and a curacy at St. Barnabas in North Finchley. He is now taking two years out to focus on writing fiction. As well as lecturing for the Arts Society he leads tours to Central Asia, where a large part of his heart remains.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 2nd September 2020 at 11:00am.

Just before the coronavirus lockdown in March, Chris recorded a YouTube lecture on Soviet Propaganda in Central Asian Monumental Art. This can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Cotton Pickers and Cosmonauts

Click here for our October lecture

Wednesday 7th October 2020 – Great Railway Stations: Evoking the Spirit of Romance and Adventure

Great Railway Stations: Evoking the Spirit of Romance and Adventure

La Gare Saint Lazare - Claude Monet

La Gare Saint Lazare
Claude Monet

Public domain image

Wednesday 7th October 2020

Ian Swankie

When we think of St Pancras International or New York Grand Central, we imagine long romantic journeys. They are special places promising excitement and adventure. But there are dozens of other glorious stations in the UK and abroad.

In this lecture we will take a journey around some of the most evocative and splendid of them, looking not only at the magnificence of the architecture and the brilliance of the engineering, but discovering numerous artworks within the stations and examining many depictions of stations in art. These include Claude Monet’s Gare St Lazare and William Powell Frith’s Paddington.

Ian Swankie is a Londoner with a passion for art and architecture. He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, an official guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and an active freelance London guide.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 7th October 2020 at 11:00am.

Click here for our November lecture

Wednesday 4th November 2020 – The Day Parliament Burned Down

The Day Parliament Burned Down

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament c1834-35 - J M W Turner

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament c1834-35
J M W Turner

Image © Tate
Used under Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday 4th November 2020

Caroline Shenton

In the early evening of 16th October 1834, to the horror of bystanders, a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament, creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen by the King and Queen at Windsor and from stagecoaches on top of the South Downs. In front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, the great conflagration destroyed Parliament’s glorious old buildings and their contents. No one who witnessed the disaster would ever forget it.

This lecture will take us through the gripping hour-by-hour story of the fire through contemporary depictions of the disaster by Turner, William Heath and others.

Dr Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that a senior archivist at the National Archives.

Her book, The Day Parliament Burned Down, won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013. Its 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.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 4th November 2020 at 11:00am.

Click here for our December lecture


Wednesday 2nd December – “Celebrate, Rejoice, Rise Up!”: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Glorious Christmas Oratorio

“Celebrate, Rejoice, Rise Up!” – Johann Sebastian Bach’s Glorious Christmas Oratorio

JS Bach

J S Bach
Elias Gottlob Haussmann

Public domain image

Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Sandy Burnett

Sandy Burnett’s close relationship with Bach’s music stretches back for decades. Between 1997 and 2010 he directed a complete cycle of Bach’s sacred cantatas in West London.

In this illustrated lecture, he will explore how Bach brings the Christmas story alive in his Weihnachtsoratorium or Christmas Oratorio, written for Lutheran congregations in 1730s Leipzig. An overview of Bach’s life and achievement will precede a close look at this magnificent work which draws on various forms ranging from recitative, arioso, aria, chorale, and instrumental sinfonia through to full-blown choruses infused with the joyous spirit of the dance.

Sandy Burnett has combined a career as a broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and as music director for the RSC and the National Theatre with lecturing and performing as a double bassist on the London jazz scene.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 at 11:00am.

Click here for our January lecture

Wednesday 6th January 2021 – Giles: His Life, Times and Cartoons

Giles: His Life, Times and Cartoons

The Giles Grandma Statue, Ipswich

The Giles Grandma Statue, Ipswich
© Jim Linwood on Flickr

Used under Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday 6th January 2021

Barry Venning

The cartoonist Carl Giles once said that he loved his creation Grandma Giles – that fearsome, black-clad, gambling, drinking battleaxe – because she allowed him to say things through his cartoons that he was too polite to say in person. She helped him to poke fun at authority in all its forms, from Hitler to traffic wardens and even his employers at the Daily Express, who didn’t trust him and had sub-editors scouring his cartoons for subversive background details.

His admirers included Prince Charles, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Tommy Cooper, and it was no surprise when he was voted Britain’s best-loved cartoonist in 2000.

Giles gave us a remarkable picture of a half-century of British life. He was also, as his editor John Gordon put it, ‘a spreader of happiness’ and ‘a genius…with the common touch’.

Barry Venning is an art historian with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art. He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society and Christie’s Education.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 6th January 2021 at 11:00am.

Click here for our February lecture

Wednesday 3rd February 2021 – Coventry Cathedral: Icon and Insipration

Coventry Cathedral: Icon and Inspiration

Stained Glass, Coventry Cathedral

Stained Glass, Coventry Cathedral

Image by Julia Schwab from Pixabay

Wednesday 3rd February 2021

Alexandra Epps

Ahead of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, this lecture will tell the extraordinary story of the rebuilding of the Cathedral as a symbol of peace and reconciliation and its inspiring commitment to the modern.

We’ll experience the work of many of the world class artists associated with its treasures, including Jacob Epstein, Elizabeth Frink, John Piper and Graham Sutherland.

Alexandra Epps’ background is in design, having practised as a graphic designer running her own business for many years. She now works as a guide to the City of London, and as a guide and lecturer to Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Guildhall Art Gallery and Pallant House Gallery.

This lecture will be streamed online on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 11:00am. TAS RLS members will be invited by email to join the lecture.

Click here for our March lecture

Wednesday 3rd March – The Sphinx of Delft: Vermeer’s Masterpieces

The Sphinx of Delft: Vermeer’s Masterpieces

The Girl with the Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675)

Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague
Image in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday 3rd March 2021

Stella Grace Lyons

Johannes Vermeer is today regarded as one of the most important painters in art history. Yet this wasn’t always the case. He was almost entirely forgotten for two centuries after his death, only to be rediscovered in the 1800s. 

Vermeer’s works are revered for their rich colours, quality of light and for his ability to imbue everyday scenes with poetry and serenity.

Vermeer is a highly mysterious figure; there is very little historical documentation about him in existence, and fewer than forty works are attributed to him. As a result, he’s earned the nickname ‘the Sphinx of Delft’.

This lecture will  explore his masterpieces, including ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’.

Stella Grace Lyons is a freelance lecturer in art history. After gaining her BA in the History of Art with a 1st class in her dissertation from the University of Bristol and her MA in History of Art from the University of Warwick, Stella spent a year studying Renaissance art in Italy at the British Institute of Florence, and three months studying Venetian art in Venice.

Stella is also a part-time lecturer for the University of South Wales.

This lecture will be streamed online via YouTube on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 at 11:00am. TAS RLS members will be invited by email to join the lecture.

Please note that this is a change to our published Programme for copyright and intellectual property reasons. We hope that Stella will present her original lecture on Norwegian art in February 2022.

Click here for our April lecture