Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


Programme of Events 2010 

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Walton and Hersham

  • Ten lectures
  • Visits
  • Special Interest Days
  • NADFAS Review, a magazine printed quarterly
  • Church Recording at St Mary Magdalene, Littleton, Shepperton
  • A Young Arts project each year
  • Tours
  • Heritage Volunteers

The Lecture Programme for 2010

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

See our programme for 2011.



January 14th - Chloë Sayer

The Aztec Legacy: Continuity & Change

The Aztecs of Mexico have been described as warlike and bloodthirsty, yet their creative achievements were breathtaking. Their shimmering city, built on a  lake, was the Venice of the New World. Their legacy includes painted books, poetry, sculpture, metalwork, turquoise mosaics and exquisite featherwork. This lecture explores the contradictory aspects of Aztec civilization, and looks at cultural survivals today.

The civilisation of the Aztecs flourished in central Mexico between 1325 and 1521, when they surrendered to invading Spanish forces. Their magnificent capital, with 250,000 inhabitants, lay at the heart of a vast empire. Military might was accompanied by exceptional developments in art and architecture. Aztec creativity found expression in miniature gold objects, fine ceramics, monumental stone sculpture, exquisite turquoise mosaics, and precious pictorial manuscripts. Religion dominated every aspect of life.

Despite the devastation that marked the Spanish Conquest, many native arts and beliefs have survived to the present day. Nahuatl, the official language of the Aztec empire, is spoken by approximately two million people. Textile and ceramic traditions, mask-carving, dances, festivals, and celebrations for the Days of the Dead have their roots in the past.

Chloë Sayer with a Mexican textile artist

February 11th - Sarah Lenton

Lord of the Rings: Wagner's Cut & Paste Job on Northern Myths

Wagner's epic Ring cycle (four operas over 16 hours) is based squarely on Northern myth. However, the story is Wagner's own. Using extensive material from the Royal Opera House and English National Opera productions of the Ring, Sarah Lenton unpacks Wagner's plot and shows how brilliantly it is out together from Viking saga, Norse myth, and the odd German fairy tale.

Wagner wrote the libretto and music over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874. The four operas that constitute the Ring cycle are, in the order of the imagined events they portray:

  • Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
  • Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
  • Siegfried
  • Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)

Brünnhilde and Siegfried in Richard Wagner's Siegfried (the third of the four operas that comprise The Ring of the Nibelung, illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867 - 1939).

March 11th - Hilary Guise

Gertrude Stein and Her Circle

Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) was an American writer who spent most of her life in France, and who became a catalyst in the development of modern art and literature. Her life was marked by two primary relationships, the first with her brother Leo Stein, from 1874-1914 (Gertrude and Leo), and the second with Alice B. Toklas, from 1907 until Stein's death in 1946 (Gertrude and Alice). Stein shared her salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, first with Leo and then with Alice. Throughout her lifetime, Stein cultivated significant relationships with well-known members of the avant garde artistic and literary world, such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.


Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. 

April 8th - Anton Gabszewicz

Two London Porcelain Factories: Chelsea & Bow, a Study in Contrasts

This lecture follows the development of Nicholas Sprimont and Thomas Frye who embarked on the risky new venture of porcelain manufacture.

Both left their former professions of silversmith and portrait painter to become pioneers working within easy reach of the City of London and the Thames. The development of their factories is followed against the background of London in the mid-18th century.

The products of both concerns are discussed in tandem, which allows for differences and similarities to be emphasized. In this way the strengths and weaknesses of each factory and their commercial acumen become apparent.


Vase made in Thomas Frye's Bow Porcelain Factory in the Kakiemon style, c. 1750

May 13th - Geoffrey Toms

Roman London Up-to-date

The intensive excavation of the City of London in the last thirty years together with the creation of the Museum of London has produced exciting and sensational results. This lecture will use the rich evidence of buildings, artefacts and environmental material to recreate the appearance of Londinium two thousand years ago as one of the major Roman cities of western Europe.

From the amphitheatre to the waterfront, coin hordes and jewellery, the way of life of Roman Londoners in the multicultural cosmopolitan city will be the central theme that only archaeology can show us.

Bronze head of emperor Hadrian, found in the Thames, London, British Museum

June 10th - Caroline Knight

Robert Adam's London Practice: Neo-Classicism in Town & Country

Robert Adam started his architectural career with the family firm in Scotland, but after visiting Rome he also set up a London office in 1758. He became enormously successful as the architect of numerous country houses both in England and Scotland, as well as designing many town houses and public projects. Due to the decline of the great London houses and the redevelopment of some areas, his work in and around London is less well known then his major houses in the country.

This lecture will look at Adam's work in London, which was often commissioned by clients whose London houses he was working on. It will include his important residential developments, the Adelphi, much of which has been demolished , It will also consider some of the great town houses he designed, such as Home House and Lansdowne House, both in the West End and with splendid interiors. It will also look at Adam's very successful updating of some of the great houses on the outskirts of London, such as Syon House and Osterley Park, which Caroline Knight has researched as part of her book, London's Country Houses.

Osterley Park, Hounslow, originally built for Sir Thomas Gresham, was remodelled by Robert Adam in 1761 for the new owner Sir Francis Child

July 8th - Sue Rollin

The Ottoman Sultan and His Architect: Suleyman The Magnificent and Sinan

Sinan, the greatest of all Ottoman architects, was appointed Chief Architect to the court of Süleyman the Magnificent, the greatest of all Ottoman Sultans, in 1539. In this lecture we consider how master and servant transformed Istanbul and other Ottoman towns and cities. During his 50-year career Sinan designed and built hundreds of monuments, commissioned by the Sultan, the royal family and the Ottoman elite, including mosques, schools, palaces, mausolea, hospices, hospitals, bath-houses, bridges, aqueducts and caravanserais.

In his prestigious mosque complexes Sinan made bold experiments with centralised domed spaces, he used windows to flood the prayer halls with light and superb underglaze painted Iznik tiles to decorate the walls. For his royal patron Sinan designed the grandest of all Istanbul's mosques, the Süleymaniye, a classic landmark on the city skyline: Sultan Süleyman is buried in a splendid mausoleum in the garden and the architect rests in a simple tomb outside.

The Süleymaniye Mosque was built on the order of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent) and was constructed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557.

September 9th - Dr Anne Anderson

René Lalique: Master of Art Nouveau Jewellery and Art Deco Glass

Although Lalique is best known for his Art Deco glass of the inter-war years, his career began in the early 1890s as the designer of the finest Art Nouveau jewellery. Patronised by Sarah Bernhardt, Lalique created stunning pieces of jewellery from gold, horn, glass and enamel. He preferred opals and aquamarines to flashy diamonds and his jewels were about design and craftsmanship rather than vulgar ostentation. As his fame spread his style was copied and debased until Lalique felt that he had exhausted the potential of jewellery. At the very moment, around 1907, the perfumer Coty asked lalique to design some labels for his scent bottles but Lalique went one better and designed a new stopper, he had created the first customised perfume bottle. the public loved the idea and a craze began. Soon Lalique was designing for Worth and other famous perfumers. After the war Lalique extended production into decorative vases, tableware, lamps and even architectural glass. All is glass was press moulded but of the highest quality. He survived the Depression with car mascots and paperweights, Lalique dies in 1945 but his company is still going and his glass regarded as some of the finest ever created.

Illuminated automobile hood ornament by René Jules Lalique on display in the Toyota Automobil Museum Nagoya.

October 14th - Suzanne Perrin

Japanese Painting Traditions: Opulence and Minimalism  

For centuries Japanese painting followed the lead set by Chinese tradition, but radical departures began to emerge during the feudal era that gave rise to some of the most exciting painting to come from East Asia that in turn inspired generations of European artists in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Under the auspices of Zen Buddhism during the Muromachi period (1338-1573) calligraphy and ink painting became the most favoured art form of the military age, with artist monks like Shubun and Sesshu setting the standard for skilful brushwork in landscape painting. During the succeeding Momoyama era (1568-1600) freedom  of expression developed in two main directions: the increasingly minimal works in ink painting explored by Hasegawa Tohaku, and the increasingly opulent works commissioned by the Shogunal court and rising military elite from the official Kano school.

The depictions of the natural world found their zenith during the Edo era (1603-1867) with artists like Ogata Korin, Maruyama Ōkyo, Ito Jakuchu, and many others creating experiments and diverse works that have yet to find their equal today.

 円山応挙 (Maruyama Ōkyo, 1747 - 1821),
孔雀図 (Peacock and Peahen),
hanging scroll, colour on silk, 1781,
Miho Museum


November 11th - Dr Kate Williams

Royal Scandals: George III, his Hedonistic Children and Princess Charlotte, the Queen who Never Was

Royal biographer, Dr Kate Williams, shows how royalty and scandal have been in a riotous and uneasy marriage throughout history. In this richly illustrated talk., Dr Williams explores the stories of some of the most notable royal scandals throughout the ages, lifting the lid on tales of cash for honours, spurned mistresses, ambitious courtesans, mistreated wives and truly eye-popping levels of spending, and telling the story of Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV and the Queen who never was.

James Gillray, 'Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion', 1792, a satirical image of the Prince of Wales, later George IV