Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


Programme of Events 2011 

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Walton and Hersham

The Lecture Programme for 2011

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

See a sneek preview of next years programme.



January 13th - Barry Venning

Art, Design & Photography in Post-Revolutionary Russia

The popular view of Russian art after the 1917 Revolution is that it consisted solely of heroic workers and happy peasants, but nothing could be further from the truth. For the decade between 1917 and 1927, Russia was an extraordinary crucible of artistic experiment, with a range of innovative work in painting, graphic design, architecture, photography, film-making, theatre design, textiles, ceramics and sculpture.

This lecture surveys these developments and concludes by examining the destructive and sinister effects of Stalin's policies towards the arts.


Rodchenko Lily Brik 1924

Alexander Rodchenko, Lily Brik (1924)

February 10th - ChloŽ Sayer

The Textiles of Mexico

The vitality of Mexican textiles is unsurpassed anywhere in the Americas. Almost five centuries have passed since the Spanish Conquest, yet Mexico is still home to more than fifty Native peoples. Many wear highly distinctive costumes, and use textile skills inherited from the ancient civilizations of the Aztec and the Maya. Today the arts of spinning, dyeing and weaving are practised in hundreds or rural communities. Cloth may be elaborately brocaded or gauze-woven to resemble lace.

Colonization brought new materials such as wool, an increased emphasis on embroidery, and new techniques such as treadle-loom weaving and beadwork. The Mexican sense of design and colour is dazzling.

ChloŽ Sayer has been researching textile traditions since 1973. The author of several books devoted to Mexican textiles, she has made ethnographic collections for the British Museum. She also owns an extensive collection of Mexican textiles, and takes samples with her when she lectures.

Cloe Sayer, Textiles from Mexico

ChloŽ Sayer, Textiles from Mexico

Contemporary Mexican textiles are among the finest in the Americas. Makers use techniques inherited from their Aztec and Mayan ancestors, and from the Spanish settlers who colonised Mexico in the sixteenth century.

ChloŽ will bring hand-woven and richly embroidered textiles from her collection.

March 10th - Paula Nuttall

From Craftsman to Creative Genius: the Rise of the Renaissance Artist

The world of the Renaissance artist is brought to life using a wide variety of material from Italy and northern Europe: drawings, illuminated manuscripts and sculpture as well as painting. The lecture explains how artists trained, what materials they used, how paintings were produced and how artists themselves were perceived.

At the beginning of the period the artist was a medieval craftsman tied to a guild, but with the spread of Renaissance ideas, it was increasingly acknowledged that artists worked with their brains as well as their hands, and the modern notion of the creative genius was born. By the end of the period Michelangelo, Raphael and DŁrer were regarded as 'divine'. 

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1486), Uffizi, Florence 

April 14th - William Forrester

The Lord Mayor, the City and Guilds of London

The talk starts with the history and significance of the guilds of the City of London and the story is taken up to the present day. The twelve great companies are examined as well as the unique way the City is governed, tracing the roles and significance of the Court of Common Council, the Court of Aldermen, the Sheriffs and the Lord Mayor.

The way in which the Lord Mayor is elected and invested and then shown to the people at the Lord Mayor's Show is examined ending with a view of some of the highlights from the City's art collection.

Background reading:

The City of London, Mary Catheart-Borer

The Livery Companies of the City of London, The City Corporation

Dick Wittington, Mayor of London

Richard ('Dick') Whittington, Mayor of London, 1398-9 1406-7 and 1419-20

May 12th - Hilary Guise

Wine and the Vine in Art

(with a wine tasting)

From time immemorial wine has been a the heart of many civilizations. It has made a long journey from myth into history and has been the drink of kings and heroes. It even came to represent the blood of God. The language of wine and the language of art share the same poetic resonances; and wine, vines and wine drinking have been illustrated in the arts of all centuries from Assyrian reliefs to Impressionist picnics. From the earliest grape, the Persian Shiraz, to the accidental invention of bubbly champagne from Pinot Noir by the monk Dom Pierre Perignon - the story of wine is littered with surprises and adventures.

Crusaders, Templars, pilgrims, and apostles, French courtesans and English milords all appear in this entertaining lecture which may be accompanied by a practical wine tasting!

Vermeer, The Wine Glass, 1660-1

Johannes Vermeer, The Wine Glass (1660-1)

June 9th - Anne Andersen

Beauty in Art and Design: The Aesthetic Movement c.1860-1895

(there is a major exhibition called The Cult of Beauty at the V&A in April-July 2011)

The Cult of Beauty dominated the second half of the nineteenth century and was to many akin to a religion. The 'priesthood' originally consisted of John Ruskin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Walter Pater but by 1880 its leading spokesperson was Oscar Wilde, the self-styled 'Professor of Aesthetes'.

Oscar made his debut, as an art critic, in 1877, with his review of the Grosvenor Art Gallery. His downfall came in 1895, when not only Oscar but art itself was put on trial and found to be morally corrupting. Oscar was blamed for leading astray the youth of his day, for turning young men into effeminate fops and young women into emancipated viragos! The Aesthetic male was too concerned with his china, carpets and curtains, while the High Art Maiden was too caught up in the pursuit of art to worry about a husband or children.

The Aesthetic Movement encouraged everybody to consider himself or herself an artist, even if it was only in terms of personal dress and home decorating. Antique collecting became a craze, especially the mania for blue-and-white china. Homes were transformed into Palaces of Art, while shopping, at Liberty's and Morris and Co., was raised to an art form in its own right. This lavishly illustrated lecture considers the House Beautiful in the 1870s and 1880s, from the cult of Japan to Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, which sent up Oscar and his posing.

Whistler James Symphony in White no 1 (The White Girl) 1862

James McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1 ('The White Girl') (1862)

July 14th - Leslie Primo

The Wilton Diptych Enigma

Ever since the mysterious double panel painting known as the Wilton Diptych was acquired for the National Gallery in 1929, speculations regarding its origins have been rife. Many discoveries have been made regarding its subject but we are still no wiser regarding its origins.

Who are the characters in this painting and what are they trying to tell us? What can this painting tell us about England or for that matter Europe an the turn of the fifteenth century? Why was this enigmatic painting made and why has it become the quintessential example of a style of painting we have come to call International Gothic.

This lecture will look at Medieval England, patronage, saints, and kingship through the lens of the Wilton Diptych. It will also unearth the many hidden signs and symbols in this painting that have been slowly revealing themselves to us over the past 80 years or so. Detailed close-ups will help bring to life not only the Wilton Diptych, but also the time in which it was created.

Wilton Diptych, 1395-9

Artist unknown, Wilton Diptych (c. 1395-9)

September 8th - Catherine Parry-Wingfield

Georgian Furniture - A Golden Age

The eighteenth and early nineteenth century were truly a golden age of furniture making in England, in terms of design, craftsmanship and in the use of gilding for a luxurious appearance. The lecture will include some famous names like Thomas Chippendale, but as most craftsmen worked away from the limelight, the beautiful objects that were made remain unattributed. And if you ever wondered who invented those excruciatingly uncomfortable camp-beds, we have the answer.

Chippendale armchair

Chippendale armchair

October 13th - Valerie Woodgate

The Mysterious World of Salvador Dali

Dali - "...the only difference between a madman and me is that I am not mad."

Probably the most well-known and popular artist of the twentieth century, Dali was a self-publicist who filled gossip columns with accounts of his eccentricities for over sixty years. His paintings of the invisible world of the unconscious mind were considered shocking even among a group of extremists like the Surrealists, and after joining them he quickly became their most exotic and well-known member. His soft watches and huge animals with stick-insect legs are among the most memorable invented images of our time and his Christ of St. John of the Cross is a highly original re-working of one of the central themes of Western art.

Background reading:

The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali, Ian Gibson

Dali, Meredith Etherington-Smith

Dali, Robert Descharnes

Salvador Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Salvador Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944)

November 10th - Jeanne Dolmetsch

Manners and Music: Life in 18th Century England

Manners and music transports us back to the eighteenth century, to an age of elegance and taste, wit and satire, extravagant fashions and complex code of manners. Daniel Defoe takes us to the magnificent Palladian Palace of 'Cannons', and we eavesdrop with Jane Austen on a musical evening at 'Netherfields'.

We behold the fantastic toilette of the lady of fashion in Pope's Rape of the Lock and are reminded by Lord Chesterfield of the importance of dancing the minuet with a good grace and air. Horace Walpole strolls round Ranelagh and James Macky seeks relaxation from portrait panting by playing the viola da gamba. These vivid accounts are complemented by the music of the period.

Fragonard, The Swing, 1867-8

Jean-Honorť Fragonard (1732Ė1806),
The Swing (1767-8)

13 December 2011 - Clare Ford-Wille

Festive Supper - Celebrations and Festivities: Pieter Breugel and his Heritage

(booking opens at the October meeting)

We will explore the emergence off festivities and celebrations in the work of Pieter Breugel and his immediate successors and will compare games on the ice, wedding banquets and village parties.


Brueghel Childrens Games

Pieter Bruegel (c. 1525-1569), Children's Games (1560)