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.
Vivaldi is the one Baroque composer whose music is a direct reflection of the city in which it was composed. Listen to a Vivaldi concerto and hey presto you are transported directly to the heart of 18th century Venice. The reasons for this are many – Vivaldi’s passion for colour, display and spectacle in his music; the unusual way in which Venice solved its problems with the poor and the homeless; Vivaldi’s health problems and his eccentricities as a man and a priest. Against the luxurious backdrop of 18th century Venice, and with live musical performances, this lecture explores the amazing world of Vivaldi’s music – music that is as intrinsically Venetian as the canvasses of Canaletto.
There is far more to be discovered about the Bayeux Tapestry than could ever be covered in one lecture. Who made it, where and why are the most frequently asked questions – although they might also be seen as less important beside the information the tapestry itself offers us. It is not just a narrative of the most famous battle in English history, but also of the build-up to it. It is a moral story showing that good cannot come to those who break their word. It is a story of kings, chivalry and ambition. Intriguingly, many crucial events are omitted and we can only speculate as to why. The tapestry itself is woven from only 10 different colours on linen, but remains as vibrant today as it must have been 900 years ago. The lecture looks at many of the scenes in detail and explores what might be learned from this depiction of a turning point in our history.
There are many illustrious gardens on the shores of Lakes Como and Maggiore in the mountainous far north of Italy. Those included in this lecture include a 16th-century parterre and water staircase; a baroque garden in the middle of a lake; two gardens made by rival Napoleonic grandees; and a garden created by two Edwardian romantics as a theatre for sharing their love of art and nature. These achievements and others are set in a climate ideal for garden-making among some of the world’s noblest scenery, where Wordsworth, Liszt and Bellini found inspiration. It could work for you.
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 traces 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. The talk will also be peppered with personal insight and anecdote. Faber and Faber is the last of the great publishing houses to remain independent. As the grandson of its founder, I grew up steeped in its books. I was managing director for four years and I remain on the board. I am passionate about the firm’s success, and intensely proud of my association with it.
2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael. The monumental figures and clarity of form of his art epitomises the grandeur of the High Renaissance while his masterful drawings, in a variety of media, reflect his creative processes. His early death at the age of 37 belies the scope of his work and future influence. In this lecture, we will study his art and architecture, from his early work in Urbino and Florence to its full maturity in Rome.
Before her untimely death in 2016, Dame Zaha Hadid was one of the most distinguished architects in the world. She was also a talented designer. As well as receiving numerous awards and academic honours, she won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2004; the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011; and received the Royal Gold Medal in 2015. Members who enjoy breathtaking images and have a keen interest in cutting edge design will be mesmerised by the daring yet brilliant structures of Dame Zaha Hadid.
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was a key player in early twentieth century avant garde art, design and literary/theatrical circles in Paris. As a widely travelled polymath, Dufy’s charismatic personality, wit and curiosity about the world was infectious.
Chinese wallpapers were an absolute status symbol among the aristocrats and upper classes. A room or more decorated in ‘China Paper’ was a must in the late 17th century and 18th century. The imported painted Chinese sheets were auctioned in London and were extremely expensive. Each sheet had either exotic flower and bird patterns or scenes of ‘life in China’. Many English stately homes have wonderful rooms decorated with exquisite ‘China papers’ such as: Harewood House, Temple Newsham, Erdig, Chalke Manor and the Chinese Pavilion in Brighton and many more. They all have outstanding exotic China paper rooms. There are tales to tell on how they arrived in the first place.
Why is it that so many icons appear so similar, so dark, so primitive even? It takes a trained eye to reveal the fascinating language of icons, the symbolism of colour and line, the meaning of reverse perspective, elongated fingers and faces and desexualised features. Combine this with an understanding of the process of creating or ‘writing’ an icon and the many variations of a particular theme, and suddenly it all makes sense. Through a close look at their construction, common themes and characteristics of Russian icons in particular, this lecture will help de-mysticise these intriguing artworks and help explain why they are so central to Orthodox belief.
Preston New Road
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