Zoom: Thursday, 2pm, 10 December, 2020

io Saturnalia – Happy Christmas the Roman Way

Gillian Hovell – ‘The Muddy Archaeologist’

Our first Festive Lecture using Zoom.  Gillian Hovell will talk about “io Saturnalia – Happy Christmas the Roman Way!” 

Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival. 



Thomas Couture (1815–1879), The Romans of the Decadence, Musée d’Orsay

Many of the pagan habits were therefore absorbed into our Christmas traditions.  Present-giving, holly and even party hats all have their origins in this 2,000-year-old party. This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we un-wrap the images and stories behind our festive season. It digs deep into history to add colour, depth and meaning to life today.

The Arts Society Walton – Chairman’s Report September/October 2020

Recently, you will have received the membership renewal for 2021, together with notice of the AGM on Thursday 8thOctober. The AGM is a vital part of our year, and probably the one true time that you actually have an input into the Society’s activities. We are all facing challenges outside our normal comfort zone, as the impact of the virus continues to impinge on all our lives. However, I am hopeful that most of us will now have settled into routines that enable us to cope with the problems that we are all facing. To this end, and on behalf of the Committee, I sincerely hope that all of you are well and safe, particularly as we almost certainly face a second spike of the virus.

The Annual General Meeting.

As I mentioned, we have our AGM this next week, and it is now possible to vote on the Society’s website (theartssocietywalton.org – AGM Voting 2020), but also to return voting papers before next Thursday 8th October. If you haven’t yet voted, can I please ask that you do so before the deadline, to re-elect the Committee for another year.

Membership Renewal and Lectures.

In the Chairman’s report, which accompanied the renewal papers, I wrote about the decision the Committee had taken with regard to cancelling lectures for the remainder of this year. Quite obviously there are many opportunities for viewing arts events and lectures on-line both from You Tube, but also from the Arts Society. One thing is certain, viewing a lecture on a computer screen is in no way a substitute for “being there”, and meeting friends. The problem is that there is nothing we can do at the moment that would enable us to meet in person. Even the Committee has had to ‘meet’ via Zoom. This certainly concentrates the mind in the 40 minutes available.

However, it has become apparent to me that the Society has been somewhat remiss in their duty to members in this area. A number have contacted me about this. Whilst I have been able to explain the decision we took, in all good faith, in pointing members towards the available lectures on-line, this decision has obviously affected members’ opinions of the Society. For this I apologise to you all on the Committee’s part. It has, therefore, been decided that we need to resume lectures from January. But they will have to be via Zoom. These will, hopefully, follow the programme shown on our website. It may be that some lecturers will be unable to give their talks via Zoom, and if this occurs, then we will make alternative lecture arrangements. Many societies are now undertaking lectures on-line, and it certainly appears that there is now much greater scope for such events to take place.

Obviously, we will let you know nearer the time what the arrangements will be for the lectures and how you can see them. I sincerely hope that if you delayed your membership renewal, in the quite reasonable expectation that the Society would offer you what we promised, then you will now take this opportunity to renew your membership of The Arts Society Walton.

Again, may I wish everyone all the best. Keep well, and, as winter approaches, keep warm.

John Smith – Chairman – The Arts Society Walton

New Members

A very warm welcome to The Arts Society Walton. If you are not sure about joining then why not sample a taster talk first? Just email the membership secretary to let her know you will be attending one of our monthly talks. As a guest it will cost only £5. Or you can become a member and attend ten talks a year for just £40. See our Programme of Events 2021 to find out what’s on. The talks cover everything from individual artists to art movements as well as architecture, music and the decorative arts.

As you can see from our programme we provide talks that take a novel approach and they are given by leading experts in the field who have been selected for their ability to communicate in an informative and entertaining way. We hold one-hour Zoom talks at 2.00pm on the second Thursday of the month and there are talks every month except for August and December.

If restrictions are lifted we will resume the talks at All Saints Church Hall, 13 Queens Road, Hersham KT12 5LU. In addition to the talks, we normally organise three or four visits a year to houses, gardens or London walks, as well as all day (including lunch) and half-day lectures, called Special Interest Days, which are held at the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton. Members attending these additional activities are charged at cost and the tickets generally go on sale at 1:15pm the month before the event. Demand is often high and members are given priority and it is only if places are still available that non-members are invited to attend.

We also support our local community and each year the committee donates part of your membership fee to Young Arts and Church Recording.We are part of The Arts Society which has over 360 member societies and over 90,000 members worldwide. Our local Arts Society organisation is called the West Surrey Area to which eighteen societies belong. All the organisation and running of our Society is carried out by volunteers and we are always looking for members to help with everything from making the teas to organising events. If you are interested please contact the chairman.

Programme of Events 2021

All our 2021 talks will be given via Zoom until it is safe to return to the hall.

Lectures are held at All Saints Church Hall, 13 Queens Road, Hersham KT12 5LU opposite Hersham Green and next to Hersham Village Hall. They are held on the second Thursday of every month at 2.00pm. No lecture is held in August or December.

Jump to the month you are interested in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, September, October, November

Display Programme for 2021 in PDF format for printing.

Previous Years’ Programmes20202019, 201820172016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 (PDF format), 2003 (PDF format). Summary of all lectures in date order, and summary of all lectures by lecturer’s name.

Give us your view of the last lecture by clicking here.

January 14th: “With a little help from their friends: the Beatles and the art world”

The Beatles, GermanyBarry Venning follows the Beatles through the 60s in music and images, from the Hamburg Reeperbahn in 1960 to Abbey Road in 1969. The band valued the visual arts and quickly learned the promotional potential of artists and designers. Their rise to global fame was aided and recorded by an impressive roster of photographers, including Astrid Kirchherr and Linda McCartney, while the innovative covers for releases such as Rubber Soul (Bob Freeman) and Sgt Pepper (Peter Blake & Jann Haworth) turned album design into an art form.

Barry VenningBarry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon’s Art & Ideas series, and several catalogue essays for exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland. He was the BBC’s script consultant on Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in a BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution. He has also published a study of John Constable’s paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art. He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society, Christie’s Education and other organisations..

February 11th: Koh-I-Noor -The Most Famous Diamond In The World

Queen Marys Crown Koh-i-Noor-diamond
Queen Mary’s Crown with the Koh-i-Noor diamond

From an Indian river bed thousands of years ago to the Tower of London – the fascinating story of the ‘Mountain of Light’. The story of this celebrated diamond is not only intriguing but also full of surprises; it has been the subject of desire, jealousy, intrigue, passion and political chicanery. This lecture follows the journey of this fabulous diamond from the depths of early Indian history through the bloody history of the Mughals to the power and politics of the British Empire, illustrated by extraordinary artists who were committed to describing the events and emotions of their time.

Georgina Bexon

Georgina Bexon is an art historian specialising in South Asian art who has lived and worked in the UK, USA and Singapore. Her practice includes lecturing, writing, consulting and collecting and she has developed a network of gallery and artist connections in Europe, the USA and India, which she visits regularly.  

An official tour guide at Tate Modern and Art Historian at the Oriental Club, London, Georgina is also a guest speaker on luxury cruise ships for whom she has developed a series of art talks relating to Asian and Pacific destinations. She has been a visiting lecturer at UK universities, presents talks at leading art institutions including Christie’s Education New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Moscow and speaks at international art conferences, most recently in New York, Paris, London and Lisbon.

Georgina holds a BA in Art History from Southampton University, an MA in Arts Management and Policy from City, University of London and an MA in Art History from SOAS, University of London. Georgina is a Patron of the Contemporary Art Society, has been a Trustee of Salisbury Arts Centre and on working committees at Tate and the Art Fund. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Asiatic Society.

March 11th: Two Women Who Scandalised the Art World – Suzanne Valadon and the Marchesa Luisa Casati

Suzanne, featured in works by Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir, rose from the backstreets of Montmartre to exhibit her own modern paintings. Luisa, born into wealth, launched herself into a wild life in which she became a work of art. Painted by Boldini and Augustus John and photographed by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton, she became a fashion icon and legend in her own time.

Julian Halsby
 studied History of Art at Cambridge. Formerly Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at Croydon College of Art. Publications include Venice – the Artist’s Vision (1990, 1995), The Art of Diana Armfield RA(1995), Dictionary of Scottish Painters (1990, 1998, 2001, 4th edition 2010), A Hand to Obey the Demon’s Eye (2000), Scottish Watercolours 1740-1940 (1986, 1991), A Private View – David Wolfers and the New Grafton Gallery (2002). Interviews artists for the Artist Magazine and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and The Critics Circle. A practising artist, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1994 and appointed Keeper in 2010.

April 8th: Downton Abbey Revealed: The Story of Highclere Castle

The enormous success of the TV series ‘Downton Abbey’ has made its location one of the most recognisable buildings in the country. This lecture reveals that truth is more fascinating than fiction and tells the story of the Castle and its family, the Earls of Carnarvon.

Matthew Williams
specialises in Victorian houses and design, Matthew’s lectures and study days are lively, informative and amusing. With 30 years’ experience as Curator of one of Britain’s finest Gothic Revival castles, Matthew is an experienced lecturer, broadcaster and writer.

Matthew Williams trained as an art and architectural historian before undertaking postgraduate Museum Studies. He lectures widely on the subject of design, and is especially interested in that of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

A recognised expert in the work of the designer William Burges, he was the Curator of Cardiff Castle in south Wales for many years and has published widely in art and architectural journals.

He lectures for museums and universities as well as for The National Trust, The Victorian Society and The Furniture History Society amongst many others. A very long-standing member of The Arts Society, Matthew has been a volunteer’s representative, a programme secretary and a chairman. He has been an accredited lecturer since 2001.

May 13th: The Magic of Prague: Czech Art and Culture

Alfons Mucha F. Champenois, 1897

As part of the Habsburg Empire, Prague was beloved of kings and princes. During the 19th century, however, the Czechs sought to reclaim the city for their own. Looking back at ancient mythology, they imagined a new future by means of art, architecture, literature and music. From Romanticism to cubism, the Czechs re-conceived various artistic movements in specifically patriotic ways. Looking at painter and decorative artist Alfons Mucha, artist Karel Svoboda and composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák, this talk shows how the Czechs created a capital that was fit for a new independent nation.

Gavin PlumleyGavin Plumley a writer and broadcaster, appearing on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and contributing to newspapers, magazines and opera and concert programmes worldwide. Lectures widely about the culture of Central Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. Recent talks include the Royal Opera House, the National Gallery, the National Trust, the National Theatre, the British Museum, the V&A, the Southbank Centre, the Tate and the Neue Galerie, New York, as well as for history of art societies and The Art Fund.

June 10th: Uncovering the Nation’s Hidden Oil Painting Collection

The Church at Vétheuil (1880), Claude Monet (1840–1926), Southampton City Art Gallery

In 2003 a project was set up to catalogue the UK’s collection of privately-owned oil paintings.  It involved visiting over 3000 locations across the UK and photographing 212,000 paintings.  This lecture offers an insider’s view of this ambitious and unique project.


Mary Rose Rivett-Carnac gained an MA in Victorian Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London. She’s an accredited lecturer with The Arts Society (NADFAS) and enjoys giving lectures all over the UK about the unique Art UK project for which she’s worked part-time since 2007. She has written several arts-related articles and is a volunteer guide at Dorich House Museum, studio-home of the Russian-born sculptor Dora Gordine, and at Sandycombe Lodge, J. M. W. Turner’s house in Twickenham.


Mary Rose’s favourite painting is Turner’s England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday because it’s the view she loves seeing when walking her dog along The Terrace in Richmond.

July 8th: Painting at the Edge: British Artists’ Coastal Colonies

Walter Langley, Between The Tides, 1901
Walter Langley, Between The Tides, 1901, Newlyn School

Peter Scott examines Britain’s far-flung coastal art colonies such as those at Newlyn, St Ives, Walberswick, Staithes and Cullercoats. Each British art colony was based in a small community dependent on fishing or farming and far enough away from urban centres to retain much of their old customs and way of life. Peter Scott traces the development of the colonies in the twentieth century, when styles and subjects changed, sometimes sparked by the decline of the fishing industry, the influx of middle-class tourists and the encroachment of industrialisation.

Peter ScottPeter Scott has been a Lecturer and Guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern for the past 18 years, he is also a Lecturer at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne and at the Lightbox, Woking.  He lectures for the Bristol Art Gallery, the National Trust, and by invitation at a number of Arts Societies and other arts organisations.  He has been an Art History Tutor for the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) for 15 years.  During his time as a Lecturer, it has been a joy to share his interest and delight in artists and their work.


September 9th: A Garden Like No Other: Edward James & Las Posas

The surrealist sculpture park Las Pozas, Xilitla

Hidden away in a dense subtropical forest, in the hills north of Mexico City, lies an enchanted valley in which strange ruins tower over waterfalls and pools.  This colourful lecture tells the story of Edward James and Las Posas, introducing along the way an array of intriguing characters such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, and exploring the wider theme of the modern artist-gardener.

James Russell is an art historian and curator with a leaning towards 20th/21st century British art and design. His exhibition ‘Reflection: British Art in an Age of Change’ runs from August 2019 to Jan 2020 at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.

He has recently worked with Portland Gallery on Edward Seago, Towner on Peggy Angus and the Ingram Collection on two exhibitions, the most recent being ‘Reflection’.

October 14th: Undressing Antiques

‘Antiques – I don’t understand them and they’re beyond my budget.  Nobody even collects them anymore.  They’re not for me’.

Mark Hill, a regular on The Antiques Roadshow, presents a persuasive introduction into buying antiques and integrating and using them in today’s homes.

The state of the antiques market and the different meanings of the word value are considered and we take a look at what current and future generations of collectors are buying, why they are buying it and how they are displaying it.

Mark HillMark Hill studied History of Art & Architecture (BA Hons), and began his career as a porter and Junior Cataloguer at Bonhams, before moving to Sotheby’s where he was a Specialist in the Collectors’ Department. Became director of an internet company forming and running a ground-breaking deal with eBay Live Auctions. Was co-author of the internationally published Collectables Price Guide with Judith Miller from 2002-17. Founded his own publishing company in 2005 and has since published over 12 books on specialist subjects in 20th century design and decorative arts. A Miscellaneous expert on the Antiques Roadshow since 2007, and has co-presented three primetime factual TV series on antiques and collecting for BBC2. An auctioneer running 20th century design auctions in partnership with Dawsons Auctioneers. Has lectured across the world, including at the V&A in London, and contributed to many newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programmes. A Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars and a Freeman of the City of London.

November 11th: Played in London

Charting the heritage of London’s rich sporting and recreational heritage to life. Wembley, Wimbledon and Lords are known around the world but sports and games have always been played in London.  For the Tudors it was tennis at Hampton Court and jousting at Whitehall, and for the Victorians a network of suburban sports clubs and for every generation a battle to preserve open spaces.

Simon Inglis is a British sports historian, architectural historian, writer and broadcaster, most notably about football and stadiums.

Inglis was born in Sparkhill, Birmingham in 1955. He read History and the History of Architecture at University College London, later training as a teacher in Leeds and teaching history at a comprehensive in Walthalmstow, North London. Inglis is currently editor of the Played in Britain series on sporting heritage, published by Historic England. He describes himself as a now mainly ‘arms length’ Aston Villa fan.

In December 2005 he was described as an “iconoclastic historian” and “a national treasure who must be encouraged at all costs”. In addition to his writing, Inglis is an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society (formerly the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) and has given lectures at a wide range of institutions (including De Montfort University, Birkbeck College and the London College of Communications); societies (Victorian Society and the Twentieth Century Society); local history societies, sporting bodies and at both literary and history festivals. He also conducts tours of London football sites for visiting US colleges.