2014 Lecture Programme

9 January 2014
Russian Art and Twentieth Century Modernism
Theodora Clarke
This lecture provided an introduction to an intriguing period of artistic and political evolution in Russia. Theodora Clarke discussed the major movements and artists of early 20th-century Russian art and placed the various ‘isms’ of the avant-garde within a wider cultural context.

13 February 2014
The Anatomical Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci
Guy Rooker
Apart from his skills as a painter, Leonardo was a scientist who believed that man was a microcosm of the universe. This lecture explained the ways in which he acquired his knowledge of anatomy from observing a surgeon dissect cadavers. The talk was illustrated with examples of Leonardo’s drawings which reflect the extraordinary accuracy of his anatomical studies.

13 March 2014
‘A Child Could Do It’: Cartoonists and Modern Art
Barry Venning
Ever since the mid-19th century, modern art has been a popular subject for satire by cartoonists. From the French humourist, Cham, through the work of The New Yorker, to The Daily Telegraph’s brilliant cartoonist Matt, they provide an absorbing, funny and revealing sidelong view of 150 years of modern art.

10 April 2014
Searching for the Woven Art and Symbolism of the Nomadic Tribes of Iran and Afghanistan
Brian MacDonald
This lecture illustrated the woven art of the nomads as they move over the territories they have travelled for generations. We also explored the symbolism contained in these fabulous weavings.

8 May 2014
The England of Eric Ravilious
David Haycock
Ravilious was one of the most interesting and unusual British artists to emerge after the Great War, typifying the English pastoral artist. This lecture examined his life and art, placing it in the wider context of the age, one in which the landscape was being undermined by the advances of modernity.

12 June 2014
From Models to Artists: Women in Glassmaking
Charles Hajdamach
This lecture examined the way the role of women in glass production has altered from the 18th century to the present day. For most of that time, women had menial roles in the glass industry, but the Studio Glass Movement finally allowed them to design and make their own glass as part of the worldwide glass revolution of the last 50 years

11 September 2014
How to Look at Art
Lynne Gibson
Would you like to develop your confidence in looking at art? Do you want to discuss your opinions with insight? Put away the head-phones, take your nose out of the catalogue and discover a strategy for looking at art. The method Lynn Gibson explained is a flexible approach to interpreting any piece of art work, giving you the confidence to become an active, rather than a passive, viewer. It is a tool for life: simple and effective. We then put it into practice by looking at a range of works from across the history of western art. Members’ questions and observations were welcomed and encouraged. This lecture was a must for anyone interested in visiting galleries, exhibitions and art museums. It did, quite simply, help you to ‘see’ more! Learn to trust your own eyes, and enjoy art to the full.

9 October 2014
Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Art of Visual Deception
Bertie Pearce
This lecture was an in depth look at the profound mystery of perception. There is an eternal fascination with the unfathomable, the weird ambiguous state of seeing things which are not there – yet are there. It carries us back into that long gone deeply missed period of our childhood when magic was common place and when the boundary between the possible and the impossible was very blurred. In the same way as a magic trick surprises and delights us there is a primal enjoyment in being deceived by optical illusions. Since Roman times illusions have been used in art. The stretching and distorting of perspective has been highly developed by artists to create a range of effects on the viewer. This includes Trompe L’eoil and the closely related Anamorphic art. From the 16th to the 19th century anamorphosis became extremely popular and supplied an ideal means of camouflaging dangerous political statements, heretical ideas, and even erotic pictures. It was later revitalised by Salvador Dali who was always fascinated by optical tricks and hidden imagery. Along with Composite Portraiture and Impossible Figures, the 18th through the 20th centuries saw the immense popularity of Double Imagery, widely distributed on puzzle cards and popular advertisements. We then move on to Ambiguous Imagery as used by the masterful Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. In the 1960‟s the term Optical Art or Op Art was coined to describe the growing movement of abstract painters led by Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley. Op art is a mathematically oriented form, usually abstract, which uses repetition of simple forms and colours to create vibrating effects, moiré patterns , an exaggerated sense of depth, foreground-background confusion, and other visual phenomena. Camouflage, born out of war, and taking its influence from nature with a little help from the surrealists gave birth to “disruptive pattern‟ and “razzle dazzle‟. As well as a form of disguise it has also become a means of distinguishing friend from foe. Camouflage has also flourished during peace both as a means for protest, statement and modern design. Finally, the ultimate illusion of using perspective, colour and design in Theatre Magic to conceal, shrink and ultimately disappear.

13 November 2014
In Search of Pyramids in Britain and Ireland
David Winpenny
From Inverness to Cornwall, from Pembrokeshire to Norfolk, from the Antrim Coast to County Cork, the pyramids of Britain and Ireland are little-known but of great variety and interest. This talk, which included local examples, set the pyramids of Britain and Ireland in their historical perspective and told the story of the mausoleums, memorials, garden ornaments, pumps, wellheads, boat houses, beacons, sculptures, churches, offices, shops, sports halls, swimming pools, cinemas, navigation marks and general pyramidal oddities that turn up in the most unexpected places. Their builders range from eccentrics to engineers, via martyrs, philanthropists, ghosts, kings, musicians, heroes and villains. The talk uncovers forgotten corners of history and highlights unusual discoveries, like Britain’s only cast-iron pyramid, a Scottish Formica pyramid, an Irish pyramid that sheltered the IRA and a Welsh one made of road signs. Whether you have an interest in architecture, landscapes, gardening, Freemasonry, New Age ideas, scandalous family histories or just in what prompts people to place triangles together to make an interesting structure, ‘Up to a Point’ surprised and inspired us.

11 December 2014
Thomas Heatherwick: ‘The Leonardo da Vinci of British Design’
Anthea Streeter
The giant ring of fire rising up from the cauldron at the centre of the Olympic Stadium in 2012 was a memorable sight for all of us and just one of the many achievements of Heatherwick’s design studio. 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 he designed the Olympic Cauldron. The Studio has also designed the new red London bus, the first new design of such an iconic symbol of London for 50 years. A part model for the bus was featured at the acclaimed exhibition of their work at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2012. 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. Heatherwick’s innovative approach is now in demand all over the world, and the lecture highlighted the broad range of his imaginative designs.