19 October 2021
Ups and Downs of the Lives of the Impressionists along the Seine which has been termed ‘The Cradle of Impressionism.’
A tiny section of the Seine to the West of Paris which would have represented the perfect antidote to the claustrophobia of mid C19th Paris has been termed the Cradle of Impressionism. It was here that the artists who would later become known as the Impressionists became frequent visitors to five neighbouring riverside villages. In some cases they even set up home for a while. The lives and early works of Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley and Morisot will be explored in this lively and entertaining lecture. Their desperation to gain recognition and make their mark is apparent and both the painting styles adopted, and subject matter depicted were to cause a revolution in the Art World.
16 November 2021
Art Behind Bars: Role of the Arts in the Cycle of Crime, Prison and Re-offending
Years of working as an artist within the Criminal Justice System in England and Germany have given Angela unique insights into the destructive and costly cycle of crime, prisons and re-offending. In this thought-provoking talk she offers a deeper understanding of the minds, lives and challenges of offenders. With extraordinary slides of art projects and prisoner’s art, she demonstrates how within the process of creating art of any discipline, there are vital opportunities for offenders to confront their crimes and develop the key life skills so essential in leading a positive and productive life. A frequent response to this talk has been “I had no idea!” and indeed it casts light onto areas of our society where the Arts not only are visual, decorative or commercial, but absolutely vital, hugely relevant and potentially life-changing.
This talk is moving, informative and original. Interspersed with personal accounts of humorous or slightly horrifying situations, these talks have kept audiences across the country engrossed.
25 January 2022
Pantomime: A Very British Feast
Over 2,500 years in the making the great British pantomime is a very potent brew indeed. Mix the earliest Greek and Roman drama with commedia dell’arte and medieval morality plays, then stir in a sprig of C17th masque, a dash of C18th harlequinade and a hefty shot of Victorian music hall and, hey presto, you have the modern Christmas pantomime. (Oh no you don’t!).
Our lecturer is an independent theatre director and producer who specialises in creating new work with artists in developing countries. He is the Founding Director of the charity Developing Artists (www.developingartists.org), a Fellow of St. Chad’s College, Durham University and Course Leader in Theatre at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
As the weather in Buxton in January can often be problematic this lecture will be on Zoom only.
22 February 2022
Indians, Buffalo and Storms: The American West in 19th Century Art
Artists were never far behind the explorers who opened up the west of America in the 19th Century. Sometimes they painted what they saw. Sometimes they painted what they wished they saw. Either way, painters like Alfred Miller, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt have left us a powerful, if romanticised, record of the country and people that the settlers found. Now we can use their pictures to chart the history of the opening of America’s west – the arrival of the railroad, the confinement of native Americans into reservations, and the extermination of the buffalo.
This is a story on a big scale and it seems appropriate that among the pictures illustrating the lecture are some of the largest and most grandiloquent paintings of the era. After a period of deep neglect, they are now very much back in vogue, but whatever one thinks of their artistic merits, I hope audiences will agree with me that they are, above all, great fun.
29 March 2022
The Scoliotic Knight: Reconstructing the Real Richard III
The discovery of the grave of King Richard III in Leicester raised an army of new and fascinating questions. The severe scoliosis exhibited by the skeleton revealed that the twisted physique of Shakespeare’s ‘Black Legend’ was based in fact. But how could a diminutive person, suffering from a significant spinal condition, have become a skilled practitioner of the knightly fighting arts? How could he have worn armour and fought in three major battles? What would his armour have looked like? How might it have disguised the King’s condition, presenting him as a powerful warrior? In the case of a king whose royal legitimacy was questioned by many people, how were the visual trappings of knightly kingship used to solidify his claim? Here we encounter armour as an expressive art-form, designed to radiate messages, justifications, proof of the wearer’s right to rule as a king- a wielder of divine power on Earth.
Our lecturer is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London and an internationally-acknowledged authority on Medieval and Renaissance weapons. He is the author of numerous books on the subject of arms and armour. Toby had the unusual honour of serving as one of the two fully armoured horsemen escorting the remains of King Richard III, from the battlefield at Bosworth to their final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.
26 April 2022
20th Century Women Gardeners
Who were the women gardeners of the twentieth century? From the pioneering women such as Gertrude Jekyll and Ellen Willmott, who first established the place of women among the horticultural elite, by way of midcentury plantswomen like Vita Sackville-West and Marjorie Fish, ultimately in the latter decades of the century to the great professional women, such as Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Penelope Hobhouse, who now dominate English gardening, this lecture looks at the gardeners and their gardens and points up how dramatically the rôle and influence of women has changed for good in the horticultural world.
24 May 2022
Discovering Macdonald Gill: Architect, Artist and Mapmaker
Our lecturer says that she has always been aware of her close family ties to the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill, a fascinating but controversial character. In 2006, however, a family history project drew her into an exploration of the life and work of his younger brother. MACDONALD ‘Max’ Gill was an architect, mural painter and graphic artist, best known for his pictorial maps, especially those for the London Underground. He also created painted maps for Arts & Crafts houses including Lindisfarne Castle, magnificent murals for Cunard liners, and eye-catching publicity posters for organisations such as the Empire Marketing Board. An enduring legacy is his alphabet for the Imperial War Graves Commission used on all British military headstones since the First World War. This illustrated talk by Max Gill’s great-niece presents a colourful overview of this versatile artist’s personal life and artistic achievements.