How To Get Down from a Yak: Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles
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.
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.
David Bomberg’s Lost Legacy: A Master Painter and His Students
Wednesday 2nd June 2021
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.
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.
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 was streamed online on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 at 11:00am.
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.
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 was streamed online on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 11:00am.
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.
“Celebrate, Rejoice, Rise Up!” – Johann Sebastian Bach’s Glorious Christmas Oratorio
Wednesday 2nd December 2020
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.
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.
Banned: Savitsky and the Secret Hoard of Avant-Garde Art
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:
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