Season 11 – 2020 / 21

21 October 2020

Georgia O’Keefe – Unfolding the Art of O’Keefe

O’Keeffe’s special vision bends, buckles and lobs flowers, landscapes and space itself into similar smoothly-painted folds of swirling hues in order to unearth a deeper truth. Through the metaphor of folding, O’Keeffe’s art reveals an original interpretation of form and colour. Parallels with origami shed light on her approach to composition that never loses sight of the intrinsic wholeness of the surface. Her palette is seen as a prismatic refraction releasing brilliant hues from the underlying white light. By redefining her art’s erotic, biomorphic folds within a more symbolic context, this study reveals a uniquely all-embracing vision of her work. Her frequent shifts between abstraction and realism function not unlike the graceful reversal of a Mobius strip. Seen through the significance of folds, the critical texts of O’Keeffe’s art from those of Camera Work to present times take on a new twist.


Lecturer: Deborah Jenner

Deborah Jenner is an American-born art historian; member of College Arts Association. Residing in Paris since 1990, she has worked at the Ecole du Louvre, the Sorbonne, the Catholic Institute and the British Council. Her Doctorate thesis proved non-western influences in Georgia O’Keeffe’s art. Her publications include catalogue essays for Musée d’Orsay (New York City et l’Art modern) and Centre Pompidou (Les Traces du Sacré), scholarly papers with the research laboratory S.A.R.I. and Gallery critiques in ArtAsiaPacific, and PerformArts: Artvisuel-Artvivant. She gives public talks, guided walks and museum tours for ex-pat organizations and study-abroad programs and volunteers as an Al Gore Climate leader and JCF Round Table coordinator.









18 November 2020

Great Railway Stations – Evoking the Spirit of Romance & Adventure

If you think of St Pancras International or New York Grand Central you imagine long romantic journeys. You know they are special places promising excitement and adventure. But there are dozens of other glorious stations in the UK and abroad. We will take a journey around some of the most evocative and splendid stations in the world. We will look not only at the magnificence of the architecture and the brilliant engineering but will discover numerous artworks within the stations and examine many depictions of stations in art – like Claude Monet’s Gare St Lazare or William Powell Frith’s Paddington. It may sound a bit anoraky, but it’s definitely not. It’s lavish, colourful and fun.


Lecturer: Ian Swankie

A Londoner with a passion for art and architecture, Ian is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and gives tours around each venue. He is also a qualified and active freelance London guide and leads regular tours for various corporations and organisations. Since 2012 he has led a popular weekly independent art lecture group in his home town of Richmond in West London. He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, one of the City livery companies.







9 December (2nd Wed) 2020

The Material Culture of Al-Andalus

This lecture tells the story of the Moorish invasion and the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula, through an introduction to the surviving architecture and other areas of the material culture, such as silk textiles, carved ivory caskets, bronze sculptures and refined ceramics.

The invasion in 711AD by the Umayyad Caliphate quickly overthrew the Christian Visigothic kingdom and began the nearly 800-year occupation that ended only in 1492AD, when the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, completed the reconquest of the Kingdom of Granada – the same year that those two visionary monarchs also sent Christopher Columbus off to discover the New World. During the intervening centuries, the mixture of Islamic, Christian and Jewish influences produced a unique hybrid culture


Lecturer: Ian Cockburn

Art historian with a BA (Birkbeck College) in art history and an MA (Courtauld Institute of Art) in medieval Spanish art history. Specialist in the nearly 800 years of Moorish occupation and Christian reconquest of medieval Iberia.

I have been lecturing in Spain to customers of my travel business since 1984. This year I have also given a presentation on Islamic textiles from Al-Andalus to an expert audience of academics at Madrid University, plus two lectures at both the V&A and the London Art History Society, on textiles and ivories from Al-Andalus. Formerly, as a business manager, I had extensive experience over many years of giving presentations to large audiences.




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20 January 2021

Fakes & Fortunes (Or have I discovered a Constable in my attic?!)

Sarah Cove ACR founded the Constable Research Project in conjunction with the V&A Museum in 1986 to study John Constable RA’s materials and techniques from the technical and scientific point of view. Since then she has examined over 250 works from collections worldwide, from tiny oil sketches on fragments of canvas, paper supports and boards to the ‘six-footers’, some of Constable’s most famous and iconic paintings including The Haywain (1821), The Leaping Horse (1825) and Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831). She has developed a technical chronology that assists with the dating of his known works, relatively few of which were signed and dated by the artist, and is also useful for the attribution (or not) of newly discovered pictures.

Sarah Cove has been instrumental in the attribution of three significant Constable oils for BBC1’s Fake or Fortune? series, appearing in 2014 and 2017. In 2014 she set up a Facebook page that is hugely successful in raising awareness of her research so that now she is regularly contacted by people that think they have a found a previously unknown Constable!! Some have, some have not, as you will see in this lecture which gives a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how such decisions are made and will describe some extraordinary successes but also crashing disappointments. Stories will include, at opposite extremes, a hugely publicised oil sketch reputedly worth £250,000 that turned out to be a copy and the chance discovery of a fabulous, almost abstract, oil study of the 1830s that had formerly belonged to an American G.I.


Lecturer: Sarah Cove

Sarah Cove is an accredited paintings conservator-restorer, technical art historian and lecturer with more than 35 years’ experience working on paintings for the heritage and private sectors. She is based in London and Falmouth and is a specialist in British portraits, 19th- 20th century British landscapes and oil sketches on paper and board. In 1986 she founded the Constable Research Project and she is now the leading authority on Constable’s materials and techniques. She has appeared in several TV programmes for the BBC notably Constable in Love with Andrew Graham-Dixon and twice on Fake or Fortune? where she was instrumental in the discovery of 3 ‘lost’ Constables. Other research interests include Tudor and Jacobean Portraiture, the 19thcentury Newlyn and St Ives schools and early-to-mid 20th century British painting generally. She has been a lecturer for The Arts Society since 2003 and is an experienced international speaker having lectured independently at major public and gallery venues across the UK, USA, Australia and NZ. Her presentations are lively and enthusiastic as she speaks without notes with an inimitable passion that comes from presenting her own work and research with wonderful images.



17 February 2021


Linking China with the shores of the Mediterranean World, and on to Rome, the Silk Road was once the most important trade route in the ancient world. The exchange of silk, spices and jewels as well as cultures and religions was carried by great caravans of merchants and animals for thousands of miles, across searing waterless deserts and snow bound mountain passes. Oases and cities lined the 4000 mile long route, traversing kingdoms and tribal lands with different and powerful customs. From the 1st century AD to near the 12th century the trade flourished. Eventually the secret of making silk was used by the Byzantines. Wars and the use of the sea routes curtailed the exclusive trade route network. Centuries of sand and dust covered beautiful Buddhist caves and shrines, oases and cities were left in isolation for over a thousand years, until the late 19th century when the mysterious lure of the Silk Routes drew western archaeologists to excavate sites and uncovered astonishing, remarkable artefacts. The story of the exotic and mysterious “Cross Roads” of Asia is filled with adventures and surprises. The lecture includes the 20th century outstanding, archaeological discoveries form ancient Bactria, the cross roads of central Asia (modern Afghanistan). The splendid Tillya Tepe gold hoard and Begram burial (the ancient Alexandria of the Caucasus).


Lecturer: Hanne Sutcliffe

Extensive lecturing to museums, art and historical societies, and the Art Fund. Guide, lecturer and researcher on sixteen tours to China. Lecture tours: twice to Australia (AADFAS), South Africa, and the USA. Lectured in Europe and on cruise liners in the Far East. Extra-mural lecturer at Leeds University and Harrogate College. Published Chinese Ceramics at Lotherton Hall. Council Member of Oriental Ceramics Society.





17 March 2021

Cleopatra: The most Womanly of Women and the Most Queenly of Queens

Cleopatra, the woman for whose love’s sake Antony is imagined to have given up the chance to rule the Roman world, has been inspiring painters, poets and (more recently) film-makers for over two millennia. Their gorgeously voluptuous depictions of her offer insights into changing concepts of beauty, and into the racial and sexual assumptions underlying them.  Showing images ranging from Roman portrait busts, through medieval illuminations, the glorious works of Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, the splendour of Tiepolo and the exoticism of Gustave Moreau to 20th century film stars (Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and the Carry On team’s Amanda Barry), I will show how Cleopatra became a screen onto which artists have projected their wildly differing fantasies about exotic danger and erotic bliss.


JEM63N Lucy Hughes-Hallett at the 2017 Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Hay on Wye, Wales UK

Lecturer: Lucy Hughes -Hallett

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio – which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award – and of Cleopatra andHeroes. Her novel, Peculiar Ground was described as ‘almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance’ (The Guardian) and ‘full of drama, vivid characters, wit, gorgeous writing and fascinating detail’. (New York Times)

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has reviewed for all of the UK’s serious newspapers and for Radio 3’s Night Waves, judged five literary prizes, and spoken at numerous literary festivals. She teaches Creative Writing at Arcadia University and at Arvon.




21 April 2021

A Brief Story of Wine

Wine has been part of our global society for over 7,000 years, and the story tells of its origin and appearance in all societies across the Mediterranean and through Europe. There is rich evidence of the role wine has played in these societies and how it became an important component of faith, well-being and festivity. From the kwevris of Georgia in 5,000 B.C., the symposia in ancient Greece, the thermopolia of Pompeii, the hospices of Europe, to the dining tables of fine society wine has been ever present. Drawings, paintings, engravings, buildings, pottery and wine labels themselves all contribute to the story.


Lecturer: David Wright

I have been a wine retailer, importer and distributor for 30 years. In that time, I have publicly presented tastings and talks on wine to trade and private audiences. These have taken the form of wine ‘tastings’ or charity events where a particular subject is presented and wines tasted. I have developed a talk, A Brief Story of Wine, a great subject, and full of rich evidence, going back 7,000 years, in the form of paintings, decorated drinking vessels, buildings and literature that contribute to the story.







19 May 2021

Charles Dickens or alternatively Now you see it, now you don’t, The Art of visual deception

This is one of the quirkiest lectures you will ever hear. There is a universal delight in being deceived and in this lecture Bertie Pearce takes his audience on a whistle stop tour of art which fools, surprises and amuses the viewer. Beginning and ending with the Belgian surrealist, René Magritte, it encompasses Trompe L’eoil, Banksy, Bridget Riley, Arcimboldo and Escher to name a few. Hold on to your seats and get ready to be visually fried.


Arts Society Directory Day.
©Richard Eaton

Lecturer: Bertie Pearce

Has a BA (Hons) in Drama from Manchester University, and a Diploma Internationale from the École Internationale du Théatre, Jacques Lecoq. A member of the Inner Magic Circle, with Gold Star. Past experience includes lecturing and performing on cruise ships, and to U3A, historical societies, festivals, schools and colleges. In addition, has toured the world with a magic cabaret show and a one man show entitled All Aboard. Has written articles for newspapers and magazines on entertainment and theatre.