Category Archives: Previous Lectures

Wednesday 9th March 2022 – Lucian Freud: Portraits

Lucian Freud: Portraits

Note this lecture is on the second Wednesday of the month.

Wednesday 9th March 2022


Girl with a White Dog, 1951–1952
© Tate Gallery

Image from Wikipedia, Fair Use policy

Lydia Baumann

Lucian Freud was a British artist.

“I’ve always wanted to create drama in my pictures, which is why I paint people. It’s people who have brought drama to pictures from the beginning. The simplest human gestures tell stories” (Lucian Freud )

In this lecture Lydia Bauman will trace Freud’s development as a portrait painter and question just how much he tells us about his sitters.

Lydia was born in Poland. She studied for her BA in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and for an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute in London. She has lectured to diverse adult audiences, notably in London’s National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston USA. Herself a landscape painter, Lydia is the author of the forthcoming book Great Themes in Art.

Click here for our April lecture

Wednesday 4th May 2022 – Art After Windrush: Postcolonial Art in Britain After 1948

Art After Windrush: Postcolonial Art in Britain After 1948

Wednesday 4th May 2022

Detail of a work by Sir Frank Bowling

A detail from Middle Passage, 1970
by Sir Frank Bowling.

Photograph: Courtesy the Artist/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 published by The Guardian

Barry Venning

This lecture will look at the contributions made by artists of African, Caribbean or Asian origin to British art since the HMT Empire Windrush arrived in Tilbury from the West Indies in 1948. It will consider, among others, the work of Sir Frank Bowling, Francis Newton Souza, Eddie Chambers, Yinka Shonibare, Sonia Boyce, Rasheed Araeen, Lubaina Himid and the Singh Twins, all of whom have achieved international recognition and respect, their works collected by museums world-wide. They may not all be household names but their art is eye-catching and thought-provoking, and they have set much of the agenda for British art of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Barry Venning is an art historian with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon’s Art & Ideas series. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary art.  He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society and Christie’s Education.

Click here for our June lecture

Wednesday 2nd February 2022 – The Land of the Midnight Sun: Norway’s Golden Age of Painting

The Land of the Midnight Sun: Norway’s Golden Age of Painting

Wednesday 2nd February 2022

North Cape, 1853

North Cape, 1853
Peder Balke

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Image in the public domain.

Stella Grace Lyons

The late 19th century marked a defining moment in Norway. For the first time romantic painters began to turn to their own land for inspiration. They painted the stormy seas, the towering glaciers and the raw, untamed nature of their homeland. Their aim was to draw attention to the beauty of their country and explore what it meant to be ‘Norwegian’.

This lecture will look at the artists from Norway’s ‘Golden Age’ who captured the far north with drama and romance and interpreted their wild country as a mythical, eerie entity. It will explore the stunning works of JC Dahl, Peder Balke, Nikolai Astrup and Harald Sohlberg. This is chance to discover some of art’s most underappreciated artists.

Stella Grace Lyons gained her BA in the History of Art from the University of Bristol and her MA in History of Art from the University of Warwick. She spent a year studying Renaissance art at the British Institute of Florence, and three months studying Venetian art in Venice. She also attended drawing classes at the prestigious Charles H. Cecil studios in Florence, a private atelier that follows a curriculum based on the leading ateliers of nineteenth century Paris.

Stella is a freelance Art History lecturer, speaker and writer who has lectured across the UK, Ireland, Spain, Norway, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Malaysia. She is also a part-time lecturer for the University of South Wales. She has written about art for several publications and her article on Norwegian art was recently featured on the front cover of The Arts Society magazine.

Click here for our March lecture

Wednesday 6th October 2021 – Faber and Faber: 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design

Faber and Faber: 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design

Wednesday 6th October 2021

Pile of books
© Photo “Thrift Store Books” by Kate Geraets. Used under Flickr Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Toby Faber

Since its foundation in 1925, Faber and Faber has built a reputation as one of London’s most important literary publishing houses. Part of that relates to the editorial team that Geoffrey Faber and his successors built around them – TS Eliot was famously an early recruit – but a large part is also due to the firm’s insistence on good design and illustration. This lecture will trace the history of Faber and Faber through its illustrations, covers and designs. Early years brought innovations like the Ariel Poems – single poems, beautifully illustrated, sold in their own envelopes. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was an emphasis on typography, led by the firm’s art director Berthold Wolpe; his Albertus font is still used on City of London road signs. In the 1980s, the firm started its association with Pentagram, responsible for the ff logo. Along the way, it has employed some of our most celebrated artists as cover illustrators – from Rex Whistler and Barnett Freedman to Peter Blake and Damien Hirst. Slides will range from book covers, advertisements and photos of key individuals, to illustrations of the concepts behind the designs. Faber and Faber is the last of the great publishing houses to remain independent.

Toby Faber is an experienced lecturer and public speaker who has been accredited by The Arts Society since 2012. His career began with Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has been through investment banking, management consulting and four years as managing director of Faber and Faber, the publishing company founded by his grandfather, where he remains on the board. He is also non-executive Chairman of its sister company, Faber Music and a director of Liverpool University Press.

He has written three narrative histories: Stradivarius – Five Violins, One Cello and a GeniusFaberge’s Eggs; and Faber & Faber – The Untold Story, as well as a novel, Close to the Edge. Of these, only Faber & Faber – The Untold Story is published by the family firm.

Click here for our November lecture

Wednesday 7th July 2021 – How to Get Down from a Yak: Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles

How To Get Down from a Yak:
Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles

How to Get Dpwn from a Yak

Photo provided by our lecturer

Wednesday 7th July 2021

Chris Aslan Alexander

Houses made from wool that warm in the depths of winter, carpets that tell stories, woven bands that appease ancestors, embroideries that ward off evil, kilims that store kitchenware – with everything ready to be packed and carried on a yak or camel at a moment’s notice.

The little-known nomadic textile cultures of the Kyrgyz, Turkoman and Karakalpak will be explored in this lecture, along with the rise and fall of nomadism and where nomadism fits within the modern world.

Our speaker will share his own experience of working for three years with nomadic yak herders in the High Pamirs.

Chris Aslan Alexander was born in Turkey and spent his childhood both there and in war-torn Beirut. After school, he spent two years at sea before studying Media and Journalism and then moving to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, where he established a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries. He became the largest non-government employer in town.

After a time in Uzbekistan, he spent three years in the Pamir Mountains of 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. Since then, Chris has studied at Oxford, and is now based in Cambridge, focusing on writing fiction.

He is currently working on a new book on the Silk Road that marries travel and textiles. He leads tours to Central Asia, where a large chunk of his heart remains.

This lecture will be streamed online on Wednesday 7th July 2021 at 2:00pm. TAS RLS members will be invited by email to join the lecture.

This is a change to our original programme. The lecture, “Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion: The History of Magic Through Art and Pictures” by Bertie Pearce will now take place in July 2022.

Click here for our September lecture

Wednesday 1st September 2021 – Paula Rego: Painting Women on the Edge, and Telling Tales of the Unexpected

Paula Rego: Painting Women on the Edge, and Telling Tales of the Unexpected

Wednesday 1st September 2021

Paula Rego

Image from Wikipedia, used under the Creative Commons Attribution

Linda Smith

This lecture will look at the life and work of Paula Rego, a British artist of Portuguese origin best known for her depictions of folk tales and strikingly unusual images of women.

Married to the British artist Victor Willing (1928-88), Paula Rego settled in this country permanently in the 1970s, but her career in Britain had effectively begun in the early 1960s, when she exhibited with artists like Frank Auerbach and David Hockney. Over the following twenty years her career and reputation built steadily, and in 1990 she was invited to become the first Associate Artist at the National Gallery. Her well-known series of paintings and prints based on nursery rhymes emerged from this residency, as did another series of large-scale paintings which is currently displayed in the National Gallery restaurant.

In her early days, Paula Rego experimented with many different styles, including abstraction, and was very much influenced by Surrealism, but her mature style places a strong emphasis on clear draughtsmanship and the human figure. She produces works which suggest complicated narratives full of psychological tension, drama, and emotion. Frequently she depicts women and girls in disturbing or ambiguous situations and poses, which has occasionally caused some controversy, but her insistence on the physicality of her female figures, and her refusal to idealise or revert to cliché has earned her global recognition and many prestigious awards. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2010. 

Click here for details of the Paula Rego exhibition at Tate Britain.

Linda Smith holds two first-class degrees in Art History. She has a broad knowledge of art historical subjects, but specialises in British Art and twentieth century art. She is an experienced lecturer and guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern and has lectured to a wide variety of audiences, including school and university students, and independent arts societies in the UK and overseas.

This is the first lecture of our 2021/ 22 season.
Covid-19 restrictions permitting, we hope to hold this lecture at the Royal Spa Centre at 11:00am and 2:00pm.

Click here for our October lecture

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

Kindertransport,
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 13th April 2022 – The Ashcan Painters: Founders of New York Realism

The Ashcan Painters: Founders of New York Realism

Men of the Docks

Men of the Docks

George Bellows 1912
Image credit: © The National Gallery, London

Wednesday 13th April 2022

Mary Alexander

“The fun of being a New York painter is that landmarks are torn down so rapidly that your canvases become historic records almost before the paint on them is dry.”  John Sloan

The term ‘Ashcan School’ was used to describe the realism and contemporary subject matter of a New York based group of artists, exhibiting as ‘The Eight’ in 1908.  In fact, they were not a formal school or an ‘ism’, nor were their subjects confined to gritty realism, but they shared a fascination with zesty everyday life scenes, delighting in depicting the leisures and pleasures of the city’s working inhabitants, as well as their trades and toils.  Each had an individual style, and all rejected the stolid conservatism and rigid teaching practices of the National Academy of Design.  In this lecture we will explore the work of this extraordinary group of individual artists and friends who came together to exhibit paintings, share ideas, and create vivid and stunningly beautiful images of a New York city in transition at the beginning of the twentieth century. 

This lecture will explore the work of this extraordinary group of individual artists who created vivid and stunningly beautiful images of a New York city in transition at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mary Alexander has thirty years’ experience as a lecturer. Her experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, visiting lecturer at Christie’s Education in London, and museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. She has worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York organising conferences and special events, and is now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies. She is the author of articles on design and visual awareness issues. Her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills.

Note this lecture is on the second Wednesday of the month.

Click here for our May lecture

Wednesday 2nd June 2021 – David Bomberg’s Lost Legacy: A Master Painter and His Students

David Bomberg’s Lost Legacy: A Master Painter and His Students

Sappers at work - Canadian Tunnelling Company, R14, St Eloi

Sappers at work – Canadian Tunnelling Company, R14, St Eloi

David Bomberg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday 2nd June 2021

Kate Aspinall

In this lecture we’ll discover the power of one of the most passionate, pugnacious and underappreciated painters in twentieth-century Britain.

Neglected for much of his lifetime, David Bomberg has only recently been rightfully celebrated with exhibitions across the country.  

We’ll explore what it is in his painting that touches a nerve today as much as it did for the talented group of artists who studied with him. From Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff to Dennis Creffield, David Bomberg’s passion and craft revived the British tradition of expressive naturalism and created a visual language that remains very much alive today.

Dr Kate Aspinall is an independent historian, writer, and artist.  Based in London, she focuses her art historical work on British visual culture in the 20th century.  She teaches for the Courtauld and Yale in London and has spoken at a range of galleries and public institutions, including Tate, the Towner and Pallant House.  

In addition to her art practice, which recently won a grant from the European Commission, she was a long-term consultant for the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and until recently she served as a Trustee of the Association for Art History, representing freelance and independent art historians.  She has degrees from the University of St Andrews, the Courtauld Institute and the University of East Anglia. 

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 2nd June 2021 at 11:00am.

Click here for our July lecture

Wednesday 5th May 2021 – Cultural Experiments in the Weimar Republic

Cultural Experiments in the Weimar Republic

Poster for the Bauhaus Austellung (1923)

Poster for the Bauhaus Austellung (1923)
Joost Schmidt

Image in the public domain

Wednesday 5th May 2021

Gavin Plumley

After World War I, with Europe reeling from the worst conflict ever known, artists and architects were in a state of flux; yet out of crisis came a truly stimulating period of artistic endeavour.

Contemplating painters such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and Christian Schad alongside the experiments of the Bauhaus, new film technologies and the sultry stylings of Marlene Dietrich, this lecture will look at the culture of German-speaking Europe during the interwar years.

Gavin Plumley lectures widely on the culture of Central Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is a writer and broadcaster, appearing on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, and contributing to newspapers, magazines and opera and concert programmes worldwide.

This lecture was streamed online on Wednesday 5th May 2021 at 11:00am.

Click here for our June lecture