2019 Lecture Programme

Please note, some dates are not on the second Thursday of the month as normal, but  Penwith College will be the venue as things stand.

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



thames canaletto1747


From the mid-fifteenth century the River Thames has been an important and colourful part of the national story. The lecture is a riverscape of this history from the Tudor age to the present day. It has been the inspiration for artists and architects, including Canaletto, Doré, Kent, Turner and Wren; and the stage for royal ritual, cheerful and solemn river pageants, palaces and pleasure gardens and the ceremonial barges of the City of London Livery Companies and the Crown – a legacy today invested in Gloriana The Queen’s Row Barge.


Peter Warwick is an author, historian, high-profile event organiser and a recognised authority on Admiral Lord Nelson. Specialises in naval, maritime and polar history. Chairs The 1805 Club, which conserves the monuments of the Georgian sailing navy; The New Waterloo Dispatch (Waterloo 200), the official body that arranged the bicentenary commemorations for Waterloo in 2015 and is now, through cross-culture, celebrating the Idea that is Europe; and Thames Alive which is re-introducing pageantry to the River Thames. In 2012 arranged the man-powered squadron of Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and the Thames Olympic Torch Relay. A founder and Trustee of Gloriana The Queen’s Row Barge. As vice-chairman of the Official Nelson Commemorations Committee played a key role in the planning of The Trafalgar Festival and Sea Britain 2005. Lectures widely in the UK at schools, universities and defence establishments, overseas, and on sea voyages.


Dame Zaha Hadid died on March 31st 2016 at age of 65. Architectural historians of the future will surely recognise her as one of the most important architects of the early 21st century. She was born in Iraq and her reputation was global, but she made Britain her home. This lecture tells the story of her career from the visionary projects of the 1980s, through the years of frustration when her designs were considered unbuildable, to the prolific crop of successful projects built all over the world in the last decade of her life.

zahaAzerbaijan Heydar Aliyev Centre

Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev Centre

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Morpeus Hotel











Colin Davies – Professor of Architectural Theory. Former editor Architects Journal and contributor to magazines worldwide. Books: Thinking About Architecture, Key Houses of the Twentieth Century,The Prefab Home, High Tech Architecture, A New History of Modern Architecture (published by Laurence King) and monographs on work of Foster, Hopkins, Grimshaw.


14th March – Brendan Cassidy; BERNINI: UNIVERSAL GENIUS

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Bernini : Apollo and Daphne

Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is best known today as a sculptor and an architect (he designed the famous marble colonnade in front of the Vatican) but these were only two of his many talents. Like Michelangelo and Leonardo before him he was a universal man and on occasion would turn his hand to writing plays and composing music. This lecture, however, will focus on his sculpture among which are some of the greatest works in marble and bronze in the history of European art. His sculpted portraits are among the most compelling ever made. His celebrated Ecstasy of St Theresa is a multi-media masterpiece of emotionalism and his statue group of Apollo and Daphne, in its ability to suggest texture & in the boldness of the carving, achieves in marble what no other sculptor had done or has done since. Although he fell out of fashion during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries he is now recognized as the presiding genius of the Italian Baroque.

Brendan Cassidy

MA from Edinburgh University and a PhD from Cambridge. Has taught art history at Cambridge, London, Princeton and St. Andrew’s, and lectures to academic and other audiences in the UK, USA and Europe. Publications include: Politics, Civic Ideals and Sculpture in Italy c. 1240-1400 (2007), Studies in the Illustration of the Psalter (ed. with Rosemary Muir Wright, 2000) and Iconography at the Crossroads (ed., 1992). Has published numerous articles in British, American, Italian and German art journals.

4th April – Susan Whitfield; THE SILK ROAD AND THE ARTS OF CHINA

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The opening of trade routes across Eurasia by land and sea enabled the movement of peoples, along with their cultures, arts, beliefs, technical skills and aesthetics. This was to have a profound influence on the arts of China, introducing new forms, designs, and materials, along with the craftsmen to pass on their skills. This lecture will look at several examples of masterpieces of art from China in the first millennium AD to illustrate this influence and show how the arts of China were greatly enriched by its Silk Road links.

Susan_Whitfield.jpgDr Susan Whitfield is a writer, scholar, lecturer and traveller of the Silk Roads. During 25 years curating the collections of manuscripts from Dunhuang and other Silk Road sites at the British Library, she also helped found and then developed the International Dunhuang Project (IDP), now a thriving international collaboration working on the art and artefacts of the eastern Silk Road. She has lectured and written widely on the Silk Road. Her latest book, Silk, Slaves and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road, will be published in March 2018. She has also curated several major exhibitions and organized field trips to archaeological sites in the Taklamakan desert.


Who does the housework? Who gets the glory? Successful artists tend to be driven and, dare one say it, egotistical, so what happens when two of them set up home together? Focusing on 20th century British art, this colourful lecture explores the lives and careers of notable artist couples, including Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, and Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden. It will quickly become clear that, where artists are concerned, there are few rules. Love inspires creativity but so, sometimes, does the fading of love. One artist may begin in the ascendant only to see the other achieve greater success. The private lives of artist couples are often startling and never dull, and the paintings and sculpture on show here are glorious.

James_Russell_ James Russell studied History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, but was galvanized into writing about art by a lengthy stint selling contemporary paintings and sculpture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A passionate advocate of 20th century painting and design, he writes and lectures widely. His books include the popular 4-volume series Ravilious in Pictures, about British watercolourist and designer Eric Ravilious (1903-42), and other titles devoted to Paul Nash, Peggy Angus, Edward Bawden and Edward Seago. He curated the 2015 exhibition Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery and has lectured all over the country, from Rye to Glasgow and from the V&A to the Royal West of England Academy.


phoenix hall

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 outskirts 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.

meri_arichi 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 (1996) in History of East Asian Art, 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 the Birkbeck College, V&A, British Museum, and the Courtauld Institute of Art Summer School. She has led tours to Japan and lectured on cruises.




Augustus John : TE Lawrence

When Augustus John died in 1961 he was described in The New York Times as ‘the grand old man of British painting and one of the greatest in British history.’ He was only in his mid twenties when, in the early 1900s, he was widely acknowledged as one of the most talented and promising young British artists – a Welsh rival, perhaps, to Gauguin or Picasso. This lecture explores John’s extraordinary life, including his early achievements, his position as one of the most exciting and outrageous young British artists before the Great War, his slow decline after it, and his troubled status as ‘the last Bohemian’.

david_boyd_haycock_.jpg David Haycock read Modern History at the University of Oxford, and has an MA in the History of Art and a PhD in British History. He is the author of a number of books, including Paul Nash (2002), A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War (2009) and Augustus John: Drawn from Life (2018); he has lectured widely at galleries and museums in the UK, including Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Watercolour Society and Pallant House. He was formerly a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and at UCLA, and was Curator of Maritime and Imperial History at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He is now a freelance writer and lecturer.




Field of Cloth of Gold tent design

In June 1520 Henry VIII and Francis 1 meet to ratify an Anglo-French alliance and celebrate the betrothal of Henry’s daughter Mary to the Dauphin. The two handsome ‘Renaissance Princes’ are in their 20’s with similar reputations in military prowess, sport and patrons of the arts.  Both have imperial ambitions and are eager to display themselves as magnificent nobleman and warrior kings.  Each brings an entourage of 6,000 to a field south of Calais for 18 days of various events and entertainments staged to display the skill and splendour of each King and country.

JoannaMabbutt22_3_17_003_45e776bfa14483d0bffa3c7de53e388b.jpgJo Mabbutt is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and Freeman of the City of London. Originally a trained singer, pianist and orchestra administrator, Jo is now a decorative artist who gilds antique lace and crochet, often combining with hand printing and painting.  She works to commission, sells through galleries and exhibitions and collaborates with other designers. Jo trained in wood graining, marbling, gilding, specialist paint finishes and interior design and was awarded the City & Guilds Silver Medal for Excellence in 2000.  She taught in further education for 8 years on Art & Design National Diploma and Foundation courses then up-skilled at Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design developing her own practice. She now divides her time as a designer/maker, lecturer and tutor running workshops for specialist groups.


14th November – John Francis; THE AVANT-GARDE OF THE GPO FILM UNIT


The GPO film unit created the uniquely British Documentary Film Movement and opened up the first creative use of film in Advertising. The General Post Office Film Unit in 1933 established an exciting collaboration of artists, photographers, composers, anthropologists, poets and animators. Nightmail (1936) with words by WH Auden and music by Benjamin Britten and Len Lye’s A Colour Box (1935) with it pioneering ideas of what an advertisement could be will be a central focus of the lecture. The social realism advocacy of this undervalued film unit can be seen decades later in the British New Wave films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning directed by Karel Reisz (1961) and A Taste of Honey directed by Tony Richardson (1962). Grierson’s powerful legacy can easily be identified in the recent films of Ken Loach and Danny Boyle.


John Francis is an inspirational speaker who has delivered lecturers, workshops in the US (Texas, California, Massachusetts), Beijing, Malaysia and the UK. Initially trained as a painter, John was awarded the Max Beckmann Memorial Scholarship in painting in Brooklyn, New York and went on to be artist in resident for the state of Texas.

Later in his career John produced and directed several short films and animations. He has taught film, art and pedagogy at the University of Exeter, Arts University Bournemouth, University Sains Malaysia, Southwestern College, California, Brunel University, London and recently Kingston University.



mad men

Fine art has provided advertisers and their agencies with a great deal of material to use in their creative campaigns. Tony describes some of the processes by which these advertisements have been created and why the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo have been a particularly rich source. From the Renaissance through to the present day fine art continues to provide opportunities to enhance Brand imagery with admiration, humour, satire and irony. In an entertaining and informative lecture Tony uses a wide range of visuals and video to show examples of the original works, the creative process and the (not always entirely successful) advertisements that are the end result.


Tony Rawlins was educated at Highgate School, starting his career in advertising in 1965 as a mail boy in J.Walter Thompson. He graduated through the training system there to become an account director and subsequently worked in a number of agencies before setting up on his own in 1985. There he handled primarily Guinness advertising in Africa and the Caribbean, where he produced many commercials and print ads for them over a period of 15 years. He remains active as a consultant in the industry, but now concentrates on more philanthropic projects – producing a film in the rural villages of Nigeria for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. More recently he has completed a sanitation project in Haiti after it was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  He has been a member of The Arts Society for many years. His earlier lecturing experience includes presenting to client groups, sales conferences and students of creative advertising in the UK and overseas. More recently he has been lecturing to Arts Societies in the UK and Europe.