2018 Lecture Programme

Please note, some dates are not on the second Thursday of the month as normal, and the venue for April will be St John’s Hall, instead of Penwith College.

All lectures start at 7.30pm except for March which is preceded by the AGM at 7.00pm.

11 January 2018

Pevsner in Cornwall: Nikolaus Pevsner and the Buildings of England

Susie Harries

Nikolaus Pevsner was the Grand Old Man of English art history for almost thirty years – on the radio, in the lecture hall and, of course, as the author of The Buildings of England. How did he do it? In 1940 he was a young German refugee from Hitler in a British internment camp outside Liverpool; in 1970 he was Professor Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, Reith lecturer and Slade professor. It was an extraordinary journey – almost as extraordinary as the journey Pevsner made, county by county, to catalogue and summarise, county by county, every architecturally-significant building in England.


Susie Harries is a  writer, editor and lecturer, specialising in 20th century culture and the arts, and has published eight books on subjects including official war art, opera and the composer Elisabeth Lutyens; the most recent is the biography of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, published in August 2011. She has lectured to a range of audiences, from the Imperial War Museum and British Museum to the Twentieth Century Society and the RSA, and most recently at the Cheltenham and Bridport Literary Festivals and the Victorian Society.


8 February 2018

Food and Art Through the Ages: From Renaissance Sugar Sculpture to 3D Printing

Tasha Marks 

A whistle-stop tour of the history of food as artistic medium; starting with 16th-century sugar sculpture and venturing all the way up to 3D dessert printing and beyond.

Tasha Marks is an award-winning food historian and artist who explores the rtasha 1.pngelationship between food, art and history. Her practice, AVM Curiosities, champions the use of food as an artistic medium, with projects ranging from museum-style exhibitions and sculptural installations, to interactive lectures and limited-edition confectionery. Recent academic achievements include publication in the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, where Marks authored the entry on Mrs Beeton, one of the Victorian era’s most influential cooks.


1 March 2018  ** note earlier start for AGM at 7.00pm prior to the lecture at 7.30pm

The Phoenix Hall: Images of Paradise in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism

Dr. Meri Arichi

The cult of Amida Buddha (Sk. Amitabha) gained an overwhelming number of followers from the 10th century onward in Japan, due to the apocalyptic theory that predicted the world was to enter the period of “Mappo” (Latter Days of the Buddhist Law) in the year corresponding to 1052 in the western calendar. During the dark age of Mappo when Buddha’s teaching was to decline, the only hope of salvation was to be reborn in the Western Paradise (Pure Land) of Amida Buddha. The Phoenix Hall in the outskirt of Kyoto was created in 1052 by an aristocrat to house a beautiful statue of Amida Buddha. The architecture and the interior of the hall were designed to recreate the magnificent paradise where all devotees hoped to be reborn after their death. The Phoenix Hall is the oldest surviving Amida Hall in Japan, and it conveys to us the medieval Buddhist idea of paradise.


Dr. Meri Arichi studied Art History in London and Florence, and worked at Christie’s in Kings Street, London from 1989 to 1993. She returned to university to study Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1993, and completed a post-graduate diploma in Asian Art (1994), MA  in History of East Asian Art,(1996) and PhD (2003) for her thesis on Shinto-Buddhist syncretic Art. She has been teaching History of Japanese Art in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS as a Teaching Fellow since 2007. She has also run courses at Birkbeck College, the V&A, British Museum, and the Courtauld Institute of Art Summer School. She has led tours to Japan and lectured on cruises.


12 April 2018  ** for tonight only the venue is St John’s Hall, Penzance.

The Borgias, the Most Infamous Family in History?

Sarah Dunant

Murder, poison, corruption and incest: all perfect ingredients for sensational popular culture, but in an age known for its brutality and church corruption were the Borgias really so bad?


Novelist, broadcaster and critic. Sarah Dunant read history at Cambridge, then worked for many years as a cultural journalist in radio and television on such programmes as Kaleidoscope (BBC Radio 4), The Late Show (BBC 2), and Night Waves (BBC Radio 3). She has published 13 novels, taught Renaissance studies at Washington University, St Louis, is a visiting tutor on the MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes and has lectured around the world at festivals and conferences. Her last five novels have been set in the Italian Renaissance. Her latest novel, In the Name of the Family which was published in March 2017, completes the story of the Borgia family and the remarkable period of Italian history in which they lived.


10 May 2018

Dale Chihuly: the World’s Foremost Glass Artist

Charles Hajdamach

American glass artist Chihuly is the super-star of the glass world. His glass magic has transformed the studio glass movement and altered our visual perceptions of this extraordinary material forever.



Charles Hajdamach is a former Director of Broadfield House Glass Museum (1974-2003) and one of the top authorities on glass in the country. Author of British Glass 1800-1914 (1991), 20th Century British Glass (2009) and contributor to numerous books and magazines, he lectures internationally to glass museums and collector’s societies. He is a Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology, and a member of the Arts Advisory Board at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland and President of the Glass Association, which he was instrumental in founding.


14 June 2018

Gold of the Gods: Treasures of South America and the Search for El Dorado

Chloë Sayer

Gold in South America had a spiritual importance. In Peru and Colombia, goldsmiths made some of the most spectacular treasures of the ancient world. Cast and hammered, gold was transformed into sacred offerings for tombs and temples.


Chloë Sayer is a specialist in the art and culture of Latin America. She sas lectured in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand and as curated exhibitions, and assisted on TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. She has also made collections in Mexico and Belize for the British Museum, and is Research Associate in the Department of World Cultures at the Royal Ontario Museum. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Ohtli medal by the Mexican government for her long-standing commitment to Mexican culture. Her many publications include Mexican Textiles (British Museum Press, 1990), Arts and Crafts of Mexico (Thames & Hudson, 1990),  Focus on Aztecs and Incas  (Watts Books, 1995), The Incas – The Ancient World (Wayland, 1998), Textiles from Mexico  (British Museum Press, 2002), and  Mexico: Clothing and Culture (Royal Ontario Museum, 2015). She has also published articles in travel guides, newspapers and magazines.

———————————Summer break during July and August————————–

13 September 2018

The Music and Life of Johann Sebastian Bach

Peter Medhurst

Music lovers generally regard JS Bach as the greatest of early 18th-century composers. This lecture goes beneath the surface of Bach’s music to decode some of his musical symbolism, to reveal some of his working methods and to highlight some of his aesthetic goals.peter_medhurst.jpg

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as a musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

11 October 2018

Picasso and his Women

Valerie Woodgate

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).



Valerie Woodgate is a lecturer and guide in Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and for Tate on cruises. She lectures in other major galleries, including the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and on religious art in churches and cathedrals and is a script-writer for Living Paintings Trust (art for the blind and partially-sighted).



8 November 2018

The Age of Jazz

Sandy Burnett

One hundred years ago a group of American musicians docked in London, bringing with them for the very first time one of the twentieth century’s most important musical genres: jazz, a fascinating blend of rigorous structure, free-wheeling creativity, close-knit ensemble work and improvisation. This lecture ties in with Rhythm & Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain exhibition, a collaboration between The Arts Society & The Bulldog Trust at London’s Two Temple Place, running from January-April 2018.


Sandy is one of the UK’s most authoritative broadcasters in the field of classical music. His varied career has seen him as author, bassist, conductor, broadcaster and presenter, sharing his passion for music.
After studying music at St Catharine’s College in Cambridge, Sandy worked as music director for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and in London’s West End.  His lectures deconstruct and analyse some of the greatest works in the classical music repertoire, while placing them firmly in the cultural context of their time.



6 December 2018  ** note change of date

A Blast from the Past: Medieval Woodwind

Jonathan Weeks

Medieval instruments feature in this anecdotal talk; a tune is played on each instrument, to deliver anweeks3.jpg extremely amusing lecture and there is something for everyone.

Jonathan Weeks says “The talks run for just over an hour and feature me talking about each instrument and playing on each one, a tune. The talk is anecdotal, delivered without notes and is extremely amusing – or so I have been told – and there is something for everyone”.