Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


Programme of Events 2009 

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Walton and Hersham

  • Ten lectures
  • Visits
  • Special Interest Days
  • NADFAS Review, a magazine printed quarterly
  • Church Recording at St Andrew's, Cobham
  • A Young Arts project each year
  • Tours
  • Heritage Volunteers

The Lecture Programme for 2009

A preview of the 2010 programme.

Lectures are held at Hersham Village Hall on Queens Road by Hersham Green on Thursday afternoons at 2.30pm.



January 8th - Hilary Guise

Alfred Sisley and the French Impressionists

Alfred Sisley was an English Impressionist painter who spent most of his life in France although he visited England on several occasions including a visit to Molesey. The art historian Robert Rosenblum describes him as producing the "textbook idea of a perfect Impressionist painting". This talk coincides with an exhibition at the National Gallery between 12 November 2008 and 15 February 2009 on "Sisley in England and Wales".

For more information see Alfred Sisley and the book by Richard Shone, Sisley.

Molesey Weir, Alfred Sisley, 1874

February 12th - James Malpas

The Victorian ‘Olympians’ – Leighton, Alma Tadema, Poynter 

The Victorian Olympians were a group of artists including Frederick Leighton, Laurence Alma-Tadema, Sir Edward Poynter and Albert Moore, who were passionate for Greek and Roman art as they felt it represented absolute beauty. Their work fell between the pure aestheticism of James Whistler and the moralising work of the early Pre-Raphaelites.

For more information see Frederick Leighton, and the book by Elizabeth Prettejohn, Art for Art's Sake.

Flaming June, Lord Leighton, 1895

The painting is owned by the Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico but is on display at Tate Britain until early 2009. It was rescued by the Puerto Rican industrialist Luis Ferre in 1963 for $10,000 after it failed to sell for $140 at auction.

March 12th - Elizabeth Rumbelow

Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: A Synthesis of Excellence? 

The talk looks at how the Russian impresario Diaghilev created a ballet company in which, for the first time, a dazzling array of painters, such as Picasso and de Chirico, composers such as Ravel and Stravinsky, and dancers of the calibre of Nijinsky and Pavlova, worked together on collaborative productions. In particular the talk concentrates on Petrushka and L'Après Midi d'un Faune and their sets, costumes, choreography and music.

For more information see Sergei Diaghilev and the book by Lyn Garafola, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Leon Bakst, Vaslav Fomich Nijinsky (Вацлав Фомич Нижинский) (1890-1950), in the ballet L'Après Midi d'un Faune, 1912

April 2nd - Angela Cox

The Art of Thomas Gainsborough

In a career of more than 40 years, Gainsborough developed his art from small scale portrait groups of Suffolk gentry, to elegant and sensitive images of England's political and cultural elite.  Similarly, his landscapes evolved from pastiches of Dutch styles to paintings of grand pastoral landscapes.  The lecture explores this development in the context of the competitive artistic milieu of the later 18th century.

For more information see Thomas Gainsborough and the book by William Vaughan, Gainsborough.

(Please note the date is the first Thursday in the month)

Thomas Gainsborough, The Painter's Daughters, Margaret and Mary, Holding a Cat, c. 1759, not finished, National Gallery, London

May 14th - Dr Lucy Worsley

Horses, Women and Great Country Houses: The Life and Loves of the First Duke of Newcastle

William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle, 1593-1676, was the grandson of the celebrated Bess of Hardwick and inherited her love of building magnificent country houses. He had a roller-coaster life, entertaining King Charles I at Bolsover Castle and commissioning some of the seventeenth century's most spectacular wall paintings and sculpture before riding unsuccessfully into battle in the English Civil War. After a fifteen-year exile that he spent in the house of the painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp, William returned to England at last in the company of his second wife, the writer Margaret Cavendish. The political tumults of the seventeenth century form the background to an exploration of Cavendish's marvellous houses, especially Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, and we will explore their wallpaintings, lascivious sculptures, stables, gardens and fountains.

This lecture, exploring Cavendish's life and architectural patronage, ties in with Lucy Worsley's biography Cavalier: a tale of chivalry, passion and great houses. It was described by The Mail on Sunday as 'a remarkable achievement by an immensely talented and innovative historian'.

For more information see William Cavendish.

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle


June 11th - Dr Sally Dormer

Salisbury and the Medieval Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral is the quintessential example of an Early English Gothic church. Built rapidly between 1220 and c. 1258, its restrained elegance was further enriched in the 1330s with the addition of its famously lofty spire. This lecture will explore the medieval history of Salisbury Cathedral and set it within the broader context of 13th-century architectural and liturgical developments. There will also be the opportunity to think about the assortment of splendid tomb monuments which survive in the cathedral and the extensive scheme of Old Testament narratives carved around the interior of the Chapter House.

For more information see Salisbury Cathedral and the book by David Durston, Salisbury Cathedral.


July 9th - Douglas Skeggs


David Hockney, CH, RA, (born 9 July 1937) is an English artist, based in Los Angeles, California, United States. An important contributor to the British Pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and he settled in California during the 80's.

For more information see David Hockney and the book by David Hockney, Hockney's Pictures.

David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967

September 10th - Dr Mervyn Miller

Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect Supreme

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) created an American architecture in the late 19th century, with arts and crafts values of house and home, that was categorised as the Prairie style. His own house and studio in Oak Park, a western Chicago suburb, became a prototype for numerous houses across the mid-west. Presenting a challenge to the more formal classicism of the eastern seaboard.

His practice stalled with the scandal of his elopement with the wife of one of his clients, and he created his own refuge at Taliesin, Wisconsin, in the heartland of his family. During the First World War he designed the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, which gained world-wide publicity for surviving the Tokyo earthquake of 1923. In the early 1930s, his friends created the Taliesin Fellowship, and buildings such as 'Fallingwater' and the Johnson Wax building brought lasting acclaim. His last completed building, the Guggenheim Museum in New York helped launch the modern cult for 'Iconic Architecture'. This talk is based on the lecturer's visits to Frank Lloyd Wright buildings since the late 1960s and it presents an overview of the life and work of a controversial genius.

For more information see Frank Lloyd Wright and the book by Meryle Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Hillside Home School, 1902, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin
(Photo copyright Jeff Dean)

October 8th - Suzanne Perrin

Japonism to Modernism: How Japanese Style Changed Western Art  

It is now well documented that most of the prominent artists working in England, Europe and America in the 19th century owned some - and sometimes many - Japanese artefacts, including woodblock prints, ceramics, silk textiles, furnishings and many other diverse objects that came from the opening of Japan to western trade in the early 1850s.

Having been a 'closed country' (sakoku) for over 200 years, Japan was an unknown nation brimming with exotic culture, arts and crafts that were to inspire Western artists into new directions in art of all kinds through the 20th century to the present day.

The seminal work of woodblock print artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige , working in Edo (present day Tokyo) in the 18th and 19th centuries, created a new way of looking at the world that inspired artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Cassat, Prendergast, Whistler, Valotton, Vuillard and many more.

The term "Japonism" was coined for all types of work created with a Japanese theme, from paintings and prints to furniture, interiors, architecture and gardens. This formed the basis for the design movement "Modernism" that was to shape our world into the 20th and 21st centuries. Japanese style is here to stay, and forms an integral part of British and European design history through Modernism, and into the New Age of fashion and technology.

See Japonism.

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重, 1797-1858),
Great Bridge, Sudden Shower at Atake


November 12th - Carolyn Leder

Sir Stanley Spencer: An Autobiography in Pictures

Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) was one of the most memorable modern British artists. He gained early recognition for ‘The Resurrection, Cookham’ 1924-6, one of several resurrection pictures which depict the general resurrection of the dead at the second coming of Christ. Spencer was endlessly autobiographical and noted, ‘my longings became pictures’. His name became synonymous with Cookham, the village of his birth, which shaped his work throughout his career, and formed the setting for numerous biblical and figure paintings, as well as landscapes. He followed Renaissance precedent in setting religious subjects in his own time and place. His mural decorations at the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, commemorate the First World War and are one of the great achievements of twentieth century painting. His figure paintings reflect his turbulent private life and his landscapes depict the countryside with painstaking verisimilitude.

Our lecturer, Carolyn Leder is an art historian and a Trustee of the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, who wrote Stanley Spencer: The Astor Collection (London: Thomas Gibson, 1976).

For more information see Stanley Spencer and the books by Duncan Robinson, Stanley Spencer, and Kitty Hauser, Stanley Spencer.

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), Self-portrait, 1959
(copyright Estate of Stanley Spencer)