Sandy Burnett: Tchaikovsky to Tin Pan Alley

To kick off our seasonal celebrations, musician and broadcaster Sandy Burnett is on hand to share his selection of much-loved Christmas tunes. Expect an hour of the finest festive music from across the globe – his selections include sparking moments from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, a heartwarming ballad from Mel Tormé, something from Soweto, a heavenly chorus from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Leipzig, an illustration of the English carol tradition at its finest – and something more cynical from Eartha Kitt… 

Sandy is one of the UK’s most versatile music commentators, enjoying a career that combines broadcasting, performing and lecturing. After studying at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and working as music director for the RSC, National Theatre and in London’s West End, Sandy Burnett spent a decade as one of the core team of presenters on BBC Radio 3. Combining engaging scholarship with hands-on expertise, for ACE Cultural Tours he devises and leads cultural holidays at home in the UK and all over the world, is the author of the Idler Guide to Classical Music, is a highly sought after double bassist on the London jazz scene, and was appointed the Academy of Ancient Music’s Hogwood Fellow for the 2018-19 season. During lockdown he established an online Listening Club which meets weekly to listen to and discuss great works of classical music. 

The cost will be £10 per person.  If you would like to attend, please contact Alison Lornie (alison.lornie@btinternet.com or 01932 845372);  she will give you details of how to make your payment and will reserve a place for you and, once your payment has been received, will confirm your reservation.  A day or two before the event, a Zoom link will be sent to all participants.

How To Make The Most of Our Zoom Talks

Zoom is very easy to use and thousands of Arts Society members across the country are now using it for their regular lectures.Please make sure that you have an updated version of Zoom running on your device before the talk. It will be great to see your faces so make sure you are well lit and have your device set up on a stand in a comfortable place. We will resend you a reminder and the link again nearer the time.
When you receive the invitation, the following things might happen:

  • You might be asked if you want to start Zoom, if so answer “Yes”.
  • You might be asked to enter your name, if so then this will be the name that is displayed to everyone during the session so please enter your full name.
  • You might be asked to enter the Meeting Passcode, which is will be included with the invitation link.
  • You will be asked to “Join with Video”, this is a long blue button below your image, click on this button.
  • You will then join the meeting and be asked “Call using Internet Audio”, click on this.

When we start you should have video and audio on so that we can see and hear you, sort out any problems and answer any questions. As soon as you are connected and can see and hear the lecturer, you should switch off your video and audio by clicking on “Mute” and “Stop Video”. This will avoid any unintended noise or interference throughout the talk.
To ask questions during the talk use the Chat facility of Zoom. Most lecturers will also leave time at the end for questions. Remember to unmute before asking a question.

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 £30 for 2022. See our Programme of Events 2022 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 publicly-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: Children in Victorian Art

This one hour talk by Dr Laurence Shafe was recorded and the video is available here:

In Victorian Britain half the population was under 15 so it was literally children that helped build the country. At the beginning of the period what we think of as childhood hardly existed as poor children started work at the age of five. But it was a time of enormous change – a child could grow up during the war with France when there were few factories and the fastest means of transport was the horse and as an adult speed across the country by train. We had the largest Empire the world had seen yet most people lived in large towns full of dirty factories and about a third of children died before the age of five.

In this one hour talk Dr Shafe uses Victorian art to illustrate the lives of rich and poor children, the healthy and sick, children in the countryside and in towns and he shows how conditions for children slowly improved and the idea of a special period called childhood gradually developed.

Dr Laurence Shafe studied nineteenth-century art history at the Courtauld and completed his doctorate at the University of Bristol. He is now a Tate Guide, gives talks locally and runs a sixteen-week course on art history in Hampton every year.





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.