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.
Henry Moore is one of the most popular and important British sculptors of the twentieth century, revolutionising the way people thought about the human figure and sculpture, and making beautiful forms that grew out of his love for the landscape. He was often inspired by the art of the past and of other cultures, but he was also at the forefront of modernism – creating a new language of sculpture, full of abstract shapes, holes and magisterial forms. This talk explores his life and works, as well as the vibrant artistic world of mid-twentieth century Britain.
As a young reporter working for the Lahore Gazette Kipling took a journey through Rajasthan during 1888 during which he produced some magical and evocative descriptions of the buildings he saw there. Nowadays he is overwhelmingly associated with the world of the Empire and the British Raj in India. But as the son of the Principal of the Bombay Art School and a talented artist himself, Kipling’s ‘seeing eye’ and his love of India provide a wonderful way in to the world of the Moguls and Maharajahs. In his company we explore some of Rajasthan’s magnificent architectural splendours and gain some insights into the rich cultural history of the ‘Land of Kings’.
Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael are household names today but few have ever heard of Lavinia Fontana or Sofonisba Anguissola, who was highly admired by arguably the greatest artist of the Renaissance, Michelangelo himself. How were these ladies able to make a living in an essentially male-dominated industry, and why have they fallen into obscurity today? How were women depicted in paintings and sculptures of the period and what does this tell us about their place in society? And how independent were women when it came to commissioning works of art? Our lecture unravels these questions and examines the intriguing role of women in art from 1400-1600.
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.
Sir Clough’s daughter Susan created Portmeirion Pottery, which during the 1960s and 70s, was synonymous with cutting-edge ceramic style. This lecture looks at the place, its architecture and associations. Matthew also draws on some personal memories, as his uncle was Resident Director of Portmeirion for 30 years.
In 1964 Terence Conran opened the first Habitat shop in London’s Chelsea. Habitat’s clarion call to colour and contemporary design saw off the lingering shades of post war austerity and revolutionized British Retailing. From the beginning Conran spread the word of this new lifestyle look though twice yearly Habitat catalogues: copies are now collected and traded by a new generation of interior decorators and designers. In the early 70’s, then a design journalist, I worked for Terence Conran copy writing and editing the Habitat Catalogue. Crazy, demanding and inspiring times, full of tension and humour, working with some of the best designers, art directors and photographers in the UK. This is a rare insider’s view of how Terence Conran’s vision and determination changed the way we lived then, and the way we live now.
Picasso told his biographer, John Richardson, that his work was like a diary – “To understand it, you have to see how it mirrors my life”. This lecture examines the way Picasso’s emotional life influenced what he painted and how he painted it. His response to each new love in his life can be seen in the different styles in which his many women were represented. When he fell out of love, that fact would be revealed first in his paintings. The lecture concentrates on the seven most important women in his life (two of whom he married).
Experience the story of gold and its significance and symbolism within the history of art – as the colour of the sun; the colour of divinity; the colour of status and the colour of love. From creations ancient and contemporary, sacred and profane – all that glitters is certainly gold…
Accomplished botanical painter and inveterate traveller, Marianne North (1830-1890) led an unconventional life capturing the life essence of exotic and rare plants in their native lands. Born in Hastings, her pursuit of plants took her round the world. This talk explores both the life and social context of Marianne North, including discussion of why her paintings troubled deeply conservative Victorian society and the eventual creation of her gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
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