Previous Talks

Summer Outing – 20 June 2018 – Ashmolean Museum Oxford

The guided tour is a wonderful way to be introduced to the wealth of treasures in this superbly recrafted ancient building.  The modern blends with the traditional to give the perfect setting for a series of very individualistic collections.  The guides picked out the curious bits which you might otherwise gloss over – and put them into the context of time and place.  All are carefully displayed and are lit as well as is compatible with conservation.

We were all fully immersed in the atmosphere, but taking care to get to know the impressive roof top restaurant and cafe in the cellar between times.

It was great day.

23 May – Iain Macintyre – Suffrage, Surgery and Serbia`; Elsie Inglis 

John Smith (vice chairman) Iain Macintyre, Geoff Ridgway (chairman)

Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) was a Licentiate of The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. She was renowned for her work on Medical Education for Women, Women’s Suffrage and philanthropy. Born in India to a Civil Servant father, she was educated at the School for Education of Young Ladies, in Edinburgh.

Her will power found early fame when she petitioned local residents successfully to allow the pupils to use the communal Charlotte Square previously off limits for recreational purposes. In 1886 she studied medicine at Sophia Jex-Blake’s Medical School as one of the first women to qualify in medicine. Her teacher was a strict disciplinarian and when four of the girls stayed late to observe a case, two of them were expelled. A subsequent successful case for wrong dismissal critically damaged the school. Elsie’s father stepped in and a break away Medical College for women was established in Edinburgh with support  for clinical studies at Glasgow Royal Infirmary under Sir William McEwen.

Elsie had qualified in 1892 as a licentiate, but was not awarded a Medical Degree by the University until 1899. She set up practice on the Royal Mile with a colleague. This was a slum area of the city and she vowed to care for the poor. To this extent, fees were frequently waived and she founded a hospice for women, the forerunner of a hospital for women and children founded in 1907.

In 1909, she became increasingly involved in the Suffrage movement as a suffragist (not the more militant suffragette). She was first local and later national secretary. With the outbreak of World War 1, she offered her services to the RAMC and was told “My good lady, go home and sit still.” This snub became her watchword. The Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Service was formed with suffrage finance and a forward unit developed on the Western Front at Abbey of Royaumont.

She moved to Serbia in 1915, working with the retreating army and treating casualties from both sides. Captured and repatriated, in 1916 she returned to the war in Rumania as Chief Medical Officer following a direct request from the Serbian Prime Minister. She followed the retreating army into Russia, where she became entangled with the 1917 Russian Revolution. By now, suffering from advanced cancer, she returned to the UK and died on 26th November 1917. Denied from giving service to the British Military, she was highly decorated by the Serbian’s, becoming the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle (First Class), the country’s highest honour. A truly remarkable woman.

25 April 2018 – John Ericson – Children’s Book Illustrations

(John Ericson with Mary Barnes – speaker secretary)

John’s former career teaching visual literacy at Bath University was a firm grounding for this fascinating talk, which could be sub-titled “How do pictures help us learn how to read?” 

He promised us and delivered a nostalgic trip into our collective memories.  He demonstrated how the audience could identify classic children’s books from random images, commenting that illustrations created “a twice told tale”. He further demonstrated that it was much quicker to absorb material from glancing at an image than by glancing at text.

Whilst illustrations were primarily intended to enlighten text, they also updated and set text in context, stimulate comprehension, improve vocabulary, develop a plot and encourage further reading. Above all else, they functioned to develop continuity of thought. John also demonstrated how illustration is a graphic representation with varying styles of illustration and levels of iconicity bringing an illustration nearer and nearer to reality.

Different classes of children’s books were identified, such as anthropomorphic, animal stories, period, school, fairies tractors and trains, and adventure, along with how the illustrator enhanced the particular genre, Finally John reviewed classic children’s books illustrations, noting changes of illustrator style in subsequent editions and reviewing the illustrators of a wide range of familiar books including some of the greatest illustrators, e.g. Beatrix Potter, EH Shepard (Pooh, Wind in the Willows) and probably the most renowned illustrator Arthur Rackham (Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and numerous other classics). Modern texts were noted in passing for the simplicity of their illustrations. It will not be possible to look at a children’s book again without fully appreciating the skill of the illustrator!

28 March 2018 – Bill Harriman – World War One Miscellany

Bill Harriman, who has been the firearms expert on The Antiques Roadshow for 31 years, brought his knowledge of the bitter-sweet impact of the ending of the First World War one hundred years ago by presenting an emotive Show and Tell of artefacts from his own collection. 

The comparative merits of the standard British Lee-Enfield and German Mauser rifles were just part of the discussion.  Bill also covered the contrasting ways that the opposing troops were trained to use the them and, as an aside, their value to collectors now.   The actual examples, complete with bayonets, were there for the audience to handle – very carefully.  There were defused stick-bomb grenades, Mills bombs and rifle-grenades which are all rare as most were used in anger.   Again the technical information was linked to how the bombs were used, their shortcomings and the effect on the men in the trenches.

It was the small items though which illustrated the life of the troops on the Western Front.  The Princess Royal sent a Christmas present of a card, tobacco and sweets to “everyone in uniform” in 1914 in the specially made brass box for the soldiery; there was a silver version for officers.   A cigarette case still had its original, reportedly foul, contents. There were embroidered cards made in Belgium for the men to buy and send home.  A cast-iron toy model of a rifleman shot pennies into a collecting tin, though this was more remembered as a way of extorting extra pocket money from unsuspecting aunts.

To Bill though his most precious exhibit has no value at all.  His grandfather was wounded in the trenches.  The bullet was deflected by the clasp knife hanging from his belt which saved his life.  The blackened remains of that knife are the one thing which Bill would save from a house fire!

Despite the lethal nature of his exhibits Bill presented them with humour mixed with a flow of professional knowledge and passion. 

28 February 2018 – Professor Anne Anderson – René Lalique

Anne Anderson made a welcome return to the club to talk about her favourite subject.

René Lalique’s career spanned both the Art Nouveau (1890-1914), and the Art Deco periods (1919- 1939). Art Nouveau was characterised by nature, women and curved lines, contrasting with the machines, flapper style females and straight lines of the Art Deco.

The thrust of this presentation was to demonstrate Lalique’s ability to adapt to the differing genres of the two periods.  Lalique was born in 1860, and apprenticed at the age of 16 to a jeweller. Between 1878 and 1880 he studied in England. By 1885 he had taken over the jewellery workshop of Jules Destape in Paris, registering his own mark in 1888.

He was much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, reflected in the lines of his jewellery where women appear to metamorphose out of the jewel. His work was also influenced by the vogue for Japanese Art, and designs based on insects. He used unusual materials such as enamel and base metals to craft large pieces with the women interlinked with flowers in flowing lines. The chosen plants were often poisonous to reflect the femme fatale, thus poppy, Datura and hogweed are portrayed.

Lalique had a great ability to adapt to commercial needs. Noting an increase in rival artisans from 1900, we find him moving towards the Art Deco period with an increase in his use of opalescent glass (produced by adding zinc to the molten glass) and a move for example from candle sticks to lamp stands.

Much sought after are his car mascots, reflecting again the transition from his Art Nouveau flowing designs to the harder Art Deco form. Lalique’s work lives on in the design of scent bottles, ink wells, bookends and other ornamental glassware. Major works include the SS. Normandie, the Orient Express and St Matthew’s Church (Jersey). He died in 1945.

21 January 2018  – Clare Durham – First Porcelain Pioneers

Claire is the specialist in English and European Ceramics and Glass at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury.

Porcelain differs from pottery by being made from kaolin (china clay), fired at a high temperature, usually translucent, harder and more durable, and generally used to make fine objects. Known in China and the Far East since the 13th Century, it did not appear in the Western World for some 500 years later, when it was imported.

In 1958, discovery of the wreck of the Cao Mau sunk in 1725, yielded 130,00 objects of largely blue decorated china (blue because cobalt was easier to fire at high temperature than other metals). These objects were not of the same quality as items made for the home market. This is reflected in the auction price of items from the two sources!

Augustus II the Strong was a great collector of original Chinese porcelain, displayed in his Dresden Palace. He wanted to make his own “white gold”, so he imprisoned an alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger to produce the formula. After some years, assisted by Ehrenfried Von Tschirnhaus (or more probably led by the latter), they succeeded, leading to the establishment of the Meissen factory in 1710.  An employee, Samuel Stölzel stole the formula and took it to Vienna.

Porcelain had appeared in London in 1745 (Chelsea, Bow,) but was of inferior quality. It was the discovery of deposits of kaolin in Cornwall by William Cookworthy, who had read of the Chinese method of making porcelain that led to his factory in Plymouth, established in 1768, making good quality items. William Billingsley was an acclaimed decorator of 18th Century porcelain in Derby. He left in 1790, moving to several factories before joining Royal Worcester in 1808. Wishing to make his own porcelain he left and set up his own works with his son-in-law Samuel Walker. The enterprise ultimately failed and he finished his career as a decorator at Coalport.

Finally we learned of the life of John Bartlam who emigrated from Staffordshire to the kaolin belt in South Carolina in 1760. He was the first producer of American porcelain of which 4 tea bowls were the only known surviving pieces until the appearance of a tea pot now awaiting auction at Clare’s Salisbury Saleroom. An exciting find!

27 September 2017 – Lennox Cato – A Life in Antiques

Geoff Ridgway with Lennox Cato

Lennox Cato is the  renowned expert on antique furniture. Lennox addressed “A Life in Antiques”, tracing backwards through his career within the Antiques Trade.

Thus, we were treated to a delightful mix of anecdotes and reminiscences. The previous week he had appeared on The BBC One Show, where along with colleagues they were expected to value items from photographs. Lennox identified an item as a copy of modest value and when challenged how he knew, he replied “That is why I am on Antiques Roadshow!” This was contrasted with an occasion when he valued a piece of high value furniture for £200,000 “on air” – a Roadshow record at the time, only to discover that to his relief that the item was indeed insured for £200,000.

Memories of early years of the Roadshow (40 years this year) yielded the ability of Arthur Negus, a revered founder member, to enthuse about items brought to him without actually valuing them. We learned of the establishment of his successful business in Edenbridge, Kent. Finally he exhibited a number of high value items ranging from furniture through ceramics to glassware; explaining  the features that distinguished them as high value.

In short, this was a delightful eclectic trip of both memories and antiques, much appreciated by the audience during and after the presentation.

28 June – Summer Outing to Loseley Park and Gardens, Guildford

The home of the Molyneux-More family since the reign of Henry VII, and its superb gardens gave a warm welcome to the Club.  Coffee in the Tithe Barn was followed by an expert guided tour of the house with its portraits and works of art, furniture from the 16th century, and a comprehensive summary of the family’s progress, and setbacks, down the years.  The 2.5 acre Walled Garden is a treasure  with its “rooms” of roses, herbs, organic vegetables and spectacular borders.  The cafe does good light lunches too!

24 May 2017 – Paul Atterbury – Every picture tells a story

Paul gave us insight into how the Victorians were curious about themselves, developing a sense of self analysis that has been handed down to us. This was illustrated by reference to contemporary paintings.

Victoria came to the throne in 1837, almost unknown to her subjects. She was advised that it was necessary to re-establish the currently insecure monarchy. The paintings of her coronation were iconic and an example of the emerging appreciation of “branding” – new queen, new reign, new future. Everyone loves a Royal Wedding; the wedding to Prince Albert served to further bring the public into her world.

Victoria was the first monarch to appear on a postage stamp. A talented watercolourist; her depictions of family life and of Scotland served to open up the monarchy – and Scotland to the masses. Through Albert, Christmas trees were introduced and tartan became fashionable, both depicted in paintings. The images of the Great Exhibition served further to bury the unpopular failed monarchies of the 18th Century.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood specialised in stylised images of much earlier times, such as Arthurian depictions and Britain’s great past. Their work was also a fascinating and accurate depiction of Victorian Life with the birth of the “Middle Class” and the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in the North East. Dickens wrote about the life and times, but the artists depicted it. Often the pictures told a story but left the ending to the interpretation of the viewer.

We saw the emancipation of children – education for all, but still needed to work in the family business! Early political dissent is depicted, with strikes and the birth of the Trades Unions. Finally we were taken through the social depictions of love, marriage, poverty and death through the eyes of the artists.

26 April 2017 – Dr Scott Anderson – English Art Nouveau

Dr Anderson’s talk covered primarily the period from 1890 to 1914. Art Nouveau was not popular in England despite pan European enthusiasm, including in Scotland (Charles Rennie Macintosh)! The curvy linear lines characteristic of the genre, were exemplified on the Continent by Victor Horta’s Hotel Tassle in Brussels. Art Nouveau developed from a need for something new in art. Previously we had seen “revivals”, such as Gothic, Greek and Roman forms. Art Nouveau was based on the idea of reflecting nature (particularly plant life), coupled with appreciation of the female form. This latter followed the flowing lines of dresses and hair, inspired by the emerging flowing lines of earlier Japanese art.

An early exposition of Art Nouveau in architecture can be seen in the Paris Metro. Continental styles evolved – Modernismo (Catalin – Gaudi), Jugendstil (Germany, Austria), “Liberty” style (Italy – after Italians shopping in London!). Ironically, William Morris’ fabrics and AH Macmurdo’s furniture  (1880s), much of whose work also involved curvy linear lines and stylistic plant life, were totally anti Art Nouveau because of its perceived decadence. Yet their work was a signpost to the future.

Foremost amongst the decadent was Aubrey Beardsley, whose involvement with the Studio Magazine spread Art Nouveau word across the world. Beardsley’s association with Oscar Wilde – he illustrated Salome, changed graphic art forever, but reinforced the “decadent label”. This saw the move from “painted” art to “graphic” art. The Arts and Craft movement tended towards unique bespoke construction of expensive artisan pieces. In contrast the Art Nouveau accent was on mass production, popular and cheap less durable items. Art Nouveau encompassed textiles (curtains and dresses), ceramics (Moorcroft and the birth of Liberties, Minton and Succession Ware), metalwork and furniture.

22 March 2017 – Mick Crumplin – The Medical Aspects of the Battle of Waterloo 

John Smith with Mick Crumplin and Geoff Ridgway

Mick Crumplin regarded the events of Waterloo as the birth of conflict medicine, with many of the lessons learnt in wound management carried forward to the present where today, 93% of wounded reaching Field Hospitals will survive. For every soldier killed at Waterloo, 4 were wounded. However, a significant number of wounded would die of haemorrhage before they reached the sanctuary of the rear battlefield hospital. Control of bleeding on the battle field was paramount in this. The French with their ambulances were better off, removing the injured to safety more rapidly after control of bleeding.

We learnt of the different character of wounds depending on the weapon involved. Firstly canon fire and shrapnel wounds occurred.  Musket balls rapidly lost velocity and therefore did no penetrate well if fired from any distance unlike the more devastating effect if fired at close range. Cavalry inflicted sabre injuries largely affecting head and neck, with penetrating bowel injuries close behind (often treated with colostomy!). In addition, there were serious incidences of bruising from falling horses. After the battle was carnage. Some 29% of the British forces were casualties, with an estimated 2,291 casualties per mile! There were 6,000 injured horses of which 2,000 died. Tetanus acquired from the spores in horse manure was prevalent. The main challenges to the medical team in the field hospital were pain control, dehydration, poor debridement and poor fracture control. Improved surgery – trephining (for penetrating head wounds), catheters (for bladder injuries), fracture management and amputation technique (only 20% mortality), and venesection (of doubtful efficacy) were all deemed to have reduced overall mortality to 9-11%. Finally, an important source of post battle remuneration was the salvaging of teeth from the dead – they retailed at 2/6d to 5s each back home!

22 February 2017 – Lars Tharpe – Harlots, Rakes and Crashing China

Hogarth was born into poor circumstance and brought up in the seedier parts of Smithfield, London. His father set up an all Latin speaking Coffee House in St John’s Gate. The enterprise failed and he was sent to a debtor’s prison. His wife sold gripe water to make ends meet. By 1712, William had become apprenticed to an engraver. He hated the job and yearned to be an artist. He took up book engraving and in his late 20s he managed to become a trainee under the acclaimed artist James Thornhill. He realised that if he painted a picture he could then engrave it and make money on the resale of prints. He eloped with Thornhill’s daughter in 1729, which might have been the influence for his series “The Harlot’s Progress” (1733). It is in this series that the role of ceramics begins to be seen. Ceramics at this time were Chinese imports and their inclusion in his art was not just as items but as part of the story – for example the falling china tea set and the falling table to emphasise the fall from grace of the Harlot and later the fall from grace of the Rake in “Rakes progress” (1735); ceramics as a portent of the future. The cracked chamber pot in “After” to represent loss of virginity is another example. His engravings, pirated by others appear on numerous ceramic articles, many from China. The appearance of English Porcelain in the 1760’s, coupled with the invention of transfer printing by Worcester China resulted in widespread copying of his work. Many images also appear in varying quality on Chinese items imported after this time. Hogarth was instrumental in the passing of a copyright law to cover images. His contemporary Horace Walpole, stated that the artist’s images live and think.

Lars Tharp’s talk gave his audience much to think about, particularly how to appreciate the imagery around the subject in works of art. An outstanding exposition.

25 January 2017 – Will Hobbs – Tribal Art

Will led us through the history of the development of antique Tribal Art as a legitimate and highly lucrative art form. The foundation of the collections was with curios brought back by 18th Century sailors and used as talking points in the Coffee Shops.  In the 19th Century, voyages of discovery such as those of Captain Cook to the Antipodeans, with scientists such as Joseph Banks collecting botanical specimens, also resulted in the practice of using tribal artefacts for bartering purposes between islands and items then brought back at the end of the voyage.

Another notable collector was General Pitt-Rivers, who during his army travels amassed a large number of artefacts from many countries, which formed the basis of the Pitt-Rivers Museum originally in a farm house in Farnham, but subsequently in Oxford in 1897.  The museum housed a collection of over 20,000 objects when it opened.

Several other notable collectors also donated substantial items to museums in the early 20th Century. As museums became inundated, items or collections were sold off and the market potential for selling antique items grew. One collection of 16 tons belonging to a Captain Fuller was sold off to form the Fuller Museum in Chicago in 1958 for £40,000. Today, whilst in general there is no real market for non-European Art, antique tribal art that has a provenance that can be traced back to the early collectors attract premium prices at auction

23 November 2016 –  Helen Lange – The Life and Legacy of Thomas Hardy

helen-lange-nov16

Helen’s lifelong interest in Thomas Hardy began at school,  intensified through her teaching career and led to her appointment as Chair of the Thomas Hardy Society.  She took us through a fascinating journey of Hardy’s life, demonstrating through his poetry and novels, how significant events in his life had influenced his work.

Born in 1840 into a simple and rural life, son of a builder and stonemason, Hardy was heavily influenced with regard to his literary and musical skills by his educated and well-read mother.  Lacking the means for a university education, he was apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester, but moved to London in 1862, where his thirst for knowledge was expanded by the many opportunities available in the City for music, opera, museums and the arts. He won prizes for his architecture, but ill health drove him back to Dorset in 1867.  His first novel, “The Poor Man and the Lady” completed in that year failed to find a publisher, as it was considered “not suitable” for the times. Now an established and highly respected architect, he was commissioned to restore the parish church of St Juliot in Cornwall in 1870, where he met Emma Gifford, the Vicar’s daughter. They married quietly in London in 1874 despite opposition from both parents. Emma encouraged him to give up architecture and concentrate on writing, which he did in 1874 following publication and success of “Far from the Madding Crowd” set in “Wessex”, where Hardy had settled. Ill health caused them to return to Dorset in 1882, where he designed their house “Max Gate”.  It was here he wrote many of his novels. Some attracted negative criticism, like “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (1891) because it portrayed sympathy towards a “fallen woman”, and “Jude the Obscure” (1895) because of his controversial treatment of sex and marriage. As a result Hardy decided “no more novels”, and concentrated on short stories and poetry. Hardy and Emma grew apart, but still lived together and enjoyed cycling. When she died in 1912 his grief and remorse were reflected in his “Poems” 1912-13.  However, in 1914 he married his secretary, Florence, who always lived in the shadow of Emma.  Hardy died in 1928.  He wanted to be buried with Emma, but his executor felt he should be in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.  A compromise was reached; Hardy’s heart was buried with Emma in St Juliot’s Church (Florence was subsequently buried next to them!) and his ashes in Poets’ corner.

26 October 2016 – Alan Watson – Enigma Machines

watson-oct16

Popular interest in the Enigma coding machines and the story of the Bletchley Code Breakers’ success was certain to guarantee a packed audience for the second meeting of Ringwood Antiques Club this season.

The speaker was Alan Watson, a retired Merchant Navy radio and electronics officer with a passion for his subject. Alan produced several versions of the machines, which apart from the classic German army and naval versions included Swiss and Russian examples, the latter in use until 1995. Early machines date back to the late 1920’s, and were commercially available. Alan showed a Daily Telegraph advertisement from the era with an image of the German classified machine displayed. Initially rejected by the British and USA, modified machines with an attached printer were developed in Britain and termed Typex machines. Post War, these were modified back to the original specification by Germany and used for a further 25 years – with messages still being decoded by others! Alan took us simply through the logic of the machine’s operation and demonstrated how in-built weaknesses were exploited by the Code Breakers, along with the element of luck in capturing machines and code books. We also learnt of the War time dilemma of reading and acting on enemy decodes versus the risk of giving away that the codes had been broken.

28 September 2016 – John Sandon – Fake or Fortune

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Chairman Geoff Ridgway with John Sandon

John Sandon is the head of ceramics and glass at Bonhams, and seasoned Antiques Road Show expert.  He addressed the long history  of faking in “Fake or Fortune”.

By way of example we were shown a rare Ming Chenau Dynasty tea motif chicken bowl. The genuine item worth £21 million could also be bought on the ebay for a mere £158 to £760! The message being that if it looks like a bargain it is probably a fake!  High quality fakes are often of good a quality in their own right, fooling even the experts. China is an excellent source of “antique” China. John gave several examples of experts being misled, emphasising that provenance to confirm antiquity is essential. Han van Meegeren, a Dutch artist of the 1930s and 40s had a grudge against adverse criticism of his work, so he “reproduced” lost masters. He sold a Vermeer to Goering and was arrested and tried for collaboration after the War. With some difficulty he proved that he had done the painting. Acquitted of collaboration, he was jailed for fraud (for 1 year!). His version of Vermeer’s Jesus among the Doctors is now worth several 100 thousand pounds! Other examples were of genuine paintings being stolen and replaced by fakes, going unnoticed for many years, until the real version appears in a sale room. Piltdown Man and the Turin Shroud were cited as examples where science had proved that the items were a fake. More modern, Banksy’s are easy to fake, not helped by the man himself selling fakes and the genuine article on the same stall! Copies are defined as presentations of an item for education purposes. But the line between a copy and fake is blurred. Altogether, it was a fascinating trip through the minefield of fake versus fortune in the art world.

 

11 June 2014  Summer Trip to Chiswick House and Gardens plus the nearby Hogarth’s House.  

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Lord Burlington’s magnificent Palladian house from 1725 is set in William Kent’s garden, designed with the 3rd Earl of Burlington in the natural style then in vogue.  A Lottery Grant has allowed significant restoration of the gardens and refurbishment of the camellia house.   Another recent addition is the award-winning cafe which will be open for coffee when we get there and for lunches from 11.30 am to 3.30 pm (or take a picnic if you prefer).

Hogarth’s House (pictured) is just a 15 minute stroll through the gardens, then signposted from the back gate.

26 March 2014   Catherine Parry-Wingfield – JMW Turner and his travels in Europe
The art of J M W Turner has fascinated and involved Catherine Parry-Wingfield to the point where his work, and the restoration of his villa in Twickenham, occupy most of her waking hours.  She brought another facet of his work to the March meeting with her  superbly illustrated exploration of the way that Turner painted the far reaches of the British Isles while continental Europe was inaccessible during 25 years of Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.   The Peace after Waterloo allowed him to see the classical world and spectacular scenery on his travels in continental Europe, experimenting with techniques, recording the splendour of vast mountains as well as the graphic detail of an overturned coach on a mountain track!.
Sandycombe Lodge at Twickenham was designed by Turner as his country retreat and represents the only three dimensional work left by the innovative artist.  Sadly neglected until rescued in 2005 Catherine is now hard at work as Chairman of the Trustees dedicated to restoring the  building so that it can be opened to the public.

 

26 February 2014  James Taylor – “Your Country Needs You”
As always with James this was his very individual view on the way that Art influences the world we live in.
The famous “propaganda” poster of Kitchener’s pointing finger moulded attitudes from the first days of The Great War and inspired many similar themes by other artists as time went on.  Artists and graphic designers were encouraged by officialdom to raise spirits, keep the home fires burning as well as recruit the menfolk to the trenches. Towards the end of the war those engravers and painters also showed the horror of the conflict, as with John Singer Sargent’s “Gassed” and the lines of blinded men negotiating the duckboards among the slaughtered.  Experts make the most complex matters more easily understandable.  With his deep knowledge of art, armed conflict and his sense of humour James brought history into perspective.

 

22 January 2014  Anthea Streeter – Anton Gaudi and his architecture in  Barcelona 
Anthea studied Fine and Decorative Art in London and then Harvard, developing her understanding of what makes good design not only in small scale objects but in architecture and cityscapes as well.  Anton Gaudi and his life’s work in Barcelona were graphically presented.  Though he is perhaps best known for his design for the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral which has become the most visited building site in Spain, he had an enormous influence on the look of the entire city.  He in turn had been guided by his boiler-maker father who loved working with metal, his immersion in Catalan rural life, the Arts and Crafts movement which gave much of his work natural shapes such as trees and bones plus his dedication to his faith.   Anthea’s superb illustrations and observations left no doubt about Gaudi’s very distinctive approach to his craft, both on the largest canvas of the Cathedral and the smallest items of furniture.

 

27 November 2013  Paul Atterbury – “Eastern Dreams” 
Paul set the scene for the Victorians’ obsession with the Orient as the two-way traffic of Britain’s industry to Japan in particular was returned with “all one sees that’s Japanese” at the Great Exhibition.  The popularity of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” reflected a ready market for the silks, lacquer work, furniture, and ceramics which became the “must have” display pieces in so many households.  Inevitably the influence was felt by home-grown manufacturers who were inspired by the designs which were quickly included in their own catalogues.  With well-presented illustrations Paul showed how far the effects spread and also indicated how collections now can still benefit from the best of the items available.

 

23 October 2014  Deborah Lambert  – “Boxing Clever”
When Deborah saw that the number of people lugging furniture into the Antiques Roadshow was declining she diversified to the closely related aspect of different types of boxes.  Her talk ranged from the very early chests used to carry possessions around a lord’s tours of his mediaeval castles, through all the strong boxes, portable writing desks, cupboards, wardrobes and the small boxes that we take for granted to hold everything from tea to snuff, finally to the box which eventually holds each one of us – the coffin.  It was a superbly illustrated and fascinating talk as would be expected from an expert in such a field.

 

the world of art and design through the ages