Strangers arriving in Helsinki are often surprised by the belle époque architecture, which is at once familiar yet strange; familiar in that it seems to recall the elegant lines of Renee Mackintosh perhaps, yet strangely populated by unusual faces and creatures, mythical characters from Finland’s legends and her national epic, the Kalevala. This 19th century work of literature full of heroic tales dating back to the mists of time greatly inspired Jean Sibelius to compose some of his finest music, and artists such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela to paint some remarkable works. The lecture shows how art, architecture, music and literature came together in Finland’s quest for nationhood in the latter years of the 19th century and at the same time helped turn its capital city into a jewel of art nouveau, but with a distinctly Finnish flavour.
Frank Thrower was one of the most prolific and successful glass designers of the late 20th century. From the inception of Dartington Glass in 1967, he provided the creative and marketing drive that contributed to the company’s considerable success. As sole designer for almost 20 years, he produced over 700 innovative and popular designs. This lecture looks at the history of the company, Frank’s life and the major phases of, and influences behind, his well known designs.
Stonehenge is the most celebrated and sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the British Isles. This lecture explains why Stonehenge must be regarded as architectural in its layout and construction, embodying techniques that for centuries convinced antiquarians that it could not have been built by ‘primitive’ ancient Britons but must be a product of ‘sophisticated’ Romans.
We then explore how, over the last two centuries, this iconic structure has inspired painters, potters and poets. Blake, Turner, Constable and Moore are amongst those who have all been drawn to this magnificent ruin, resulting in a diverse catalogue of images and impressions. Finally, we will look at Stonehenge as a global icon and how it’s instantly recognisable stones now grace tea towels in Wiltshire, phone cards in Japan and stamps from Bhutan.
The Library is primarily used by the Queen to show to her guests after dinner parties at Windsor Castle. This is because it is so full of a great range of fascinating objects associated with the history of Britain and the Royal family. The lecture gives a tour of the Library similar to that experienced by the Queen’s guests. The Library is open to academic researchers but not to the general public. The lecture therefore constitutes a rare opportunity to see its rooms and treasures. These treasures include beautiful and rare books and manuscripts; books with personal royal associations; old master drawings (Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Holbein, Canaletto) and watercolours; jewellery; insignia of Orders of Chivalry; miniature paintings; clocks; fans; maps; the shirt in which Charles I was executed; and the Queen’s description (when Princess Elizabeth, aged 11) of her father’s Coronation in 1937.
Ida and Louise Cook were destined never to marry after decimation of the men of their generation in World War One. When Ida became a successful Mills and Boon novelist they used their earnings to indulge their love of opera, travelling all over the world but especially to Salzburg. Familiarity with Austria enabled these two eccentric opera loving sisters to undertake dangerous undercover missions in the 1930s rescuing Jewish musicians and others from the Nazis.
This talk will explore the world of Opera in the 1920s and 30s – the clothes, music, celebrities, and the signed photographs coveted by fans. It will also show how Opera transformed the lives not just of these two sisters but of at least 29 families they saved. In 2010 the Government posthumously created the Cook sisters British Heroes of the Holocaust.
Thomas Heatherwick, has won many awards and honours: in 2004 he was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry; he won a Gold Medal for his British Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, and in the same year he was designer of the year in Japan. Sir Terence Conran spotted his talent early on and has described Heatherwick as “the Leonardo da Vinci of our times”. Heatherwick’s work received world-wide coverage in 2012 when with his studio team he designed the Olympic Cauldron at the London Olympics. The giant ring of fire rising up from the centre of the Olympic Stadium was a memorable sight, and in the lecture we’ll look at how they achieved that spectacular moment. The Heatherwick Studio has also designed the new red London bus, the first re-design of such an iconic symbol of London for 50 years.
Heatherwick’s approach is multi-disciplinary, and with his colleagues he blends architecture, sculpture and engineering to produce elegant results, from large urban spaces to individual items such as his Zip Bag for the French firm Longchamp. As well as the conversion of the Coal Drop buildings at King’s Cross into a shopping area, the Studio has major projects underway in Cape Town, Shanghai and New York. In New York, it is involved in four concurrent projects, two forming part of the development of West Manhattan: Pier 55 and The Vessel – a great achievement for a British designer. Heatherwick’s innovative approach is now in demand all over the world, and the lecture will highlight the broad range of his designs.
Angels, familiar and fantastic, playing major and minor roles, can be seen in centuries of paintings, engravings, illustrations and sculptures. Archangel Gabriel and the Annunciation or Archangel Michael fighting the good fight. Angelic references also abound in Islamic and Jewish traditions, the latter beautifully evoked in Chagall’s Bible Message. Time to contrast the beauty and light of cherubims and seraphims with the dark, fiery abyss of Satan and contemplate the Angel of the North.
Preston New Road
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