Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


Programme of Events 2014 

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Walton and Hersham

The Lecture Programme for 2014
Lectures are held at Hersham Village Hall on Queens Road by Hersham Green on Thursday afternoons at 2.30pm. Click here to see a one page summary of the 2014 programme (PDF file).

Previous Years’ Programmes - 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 (PDF format), 2003 (PDF format). Summary of lectures 2003-2011 by date, and summary of lectures 2003-2011 by name.


Weyden, Rogier van der - Descent from the Cross Rogier van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
detail of women (left), oil on panel, Museo del Prado(Copyright: this image is in the public domain,
see http://commons.wikimedia.org)

January 9th - Turbulence and Stillness: The Art of Rogier Van der Weyden

Rogier van der Weyden was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. He brought to his work consummate skill, and a lively capacity to explore the boundaries of painting. He created some hauntingly lovely portraits, especially of young women, and his religious pieces are marked by profound psychological and spiritual insight. He lived in politically dangerous and exciting times; yet he was also fascinated by the stillness of monastic life. He worked in the tension between outer turbulence and inner stillness and, as a result, has left for us paintings which are breathtaking in their beauty.

Christopher HerbertRev Dr Christopher Herbert has lectured at the National Gallery, the Courtauld Institute, King’s College, London, Westminster Abbey, and the University of Rikkyo in Japan, and at churches and cathedrals throughout England and in Italy. Was until recently Bishop of St Albans and a member of the House of Lords. He has an MPhil and PhD in Art History from the University of Leicester. Has also been awarded two honorary doctorates and is an honorary citizen of Fano, Italy.

Watts Orpheus and Eurydice George Frederick Watts - Orpheus and Eurydice
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see http://commons.wikimedia.org)

February 13th - Love and Loss: The Story of Orpheus & Eurydice

Orpheus could quite literally charm the birds out of the trees with his music - yet he failed to bring his beloved Eurydice safely out of the Underworld. All he had to do was to lead her up to the light without looking back at her… Not surprisingly the tale of how the legendary singer lost his lover through a single glance has inspired much great music (including the first masterpiece of opera, Monteverdi’s Orfeo), and visual artists too have responded to this tragic story of love and loss. Explore the wealth of art and music on the
theme of Orpheus, with a rich array of paintings and musical examples from Monteverdi, Gluck, and Offenbach, even taking in the Can-Can!

Lois OliverLois Oliver , studied English Literature at Cambridge University, and History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, completing an MA in Venetian Renaissance Art and writing her doctoral thesis on The Image of the Artist, Paris 1815-55.

She worked on the staff of the Harvard University Art Museums, before joining the V&A and then the National Gallery in London, where as Exhibition Curator she was responsible for the major exhibition 'Rebels and Martyrs: the Image of the Artist in the Nineteenth Century' (2006) and a series of touring exhibitions.

The author of numerous publications, she has written audio, multi-media and DVD scripts for Tate, the National Gallery, the National Maritime Museum and the V&A, and appeared on a number of TV programmes for the BBC and Channel 5, as well as broadcasting on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4. Since 2006 she has been Assistant Professor in History of Art at the University of Notre Dame in London. Also a keen violinist, she plays regularly with orchestras including Chelsea Opera Group and the Endellion Festival Orchestra.

Hardwick Hall Derbyshire
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire,
built between 1590 and 1597 for Bess of Hardwick.
Designed by Robert Smythson in the English Renaissance style.(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see

March 13th - The Dainty Device: Robert Smythson and the Prodigy House

From early Tudor times to the great display houses of Elizabethan England, architecture was used to convey wealth, culture and ‘meanings,’ both open and hidden. Beginning with the architectural influences that appeared in England at this time the lecture focuses on the great houses, or ‘prodigy’ houses such as Hardwick and Longleat and the work of the Smythson dynasty.

Christopher RogersChristopher Rogers read Geography at Oxford and taught Geography. Formerly Head of Geography, Downe House School Newbury. He became interested in country house architecture whilst at Oxford and has lectured on the subject ever since, including regular lectures for the five-day Summer School at Marlborough College and lectures and for the National Trust.

 Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
(Copyright: Denise Heywood, http://www.deniseheywood.co.uk)

April 10th - Legend & Lustre: Jim Thompson & the Thai Silk

Jim Thompson arrived in Bangkok as a US army officer in 1945, fell in love with it and stayed. Captivated by the beauty of Thai silk, an ancient craft in decline, he resuscitated it and made it famous, creating costumes for films and embellishing his house, which today is a museum. An aesthete and art collector, he created an exquisite home from six handcarved teakwood houses brought from the countryside and filled it with Asian art. Here he became a legendary host.

This lecture tells the story of his achievements, showing the intricate process of silk production and its illustrious heritage, including royal robes and temple murals. It touches on films featuring his silks, reveals his house and its art and reflects on a life that ended with his mysterious disappearance. More information is available at http://www.deniseheywood.co.uk.

Denise HeywoodDenise Heywood is an author, lecturer, photographer and journalist. She worked in Cambodia as a journalist for three years and has also lived in France and America.

Her books include one on the Buddhist temples of Laos, Ancient Luang Prabang, also in French, and her latest one is Cambodian Dance Celebration of the Gods, with a foreword by Princess Buppha Devi, daughter of King Sihanouk.

Now based in London, she is a lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies (NADFAS), The Art Fund, The School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) on their postgraduate Asian Art Course and Madingley Hall (University of Cambridge). She has lectured all over Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, South Africa and Europe at universities, colleges, schools, art institutions and travel organisations including the Royal Geographical Society, The British Museum, and The National Trust.

She writes for many art, literary and travel publications, appears on BBC radio, leads art tours to Southeast Asia and France and lectures on cruise ships sailing throughout Asia.

Freemasons Hall London
Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London. Headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England. The art deco building was built between 1927 and 1933 as a memorial to the 3,225 Freemasons who died on active service in the First World War.

(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see

May 8th - Freemasonry and the United Grand Lodge of England

Overview of what Freemasonry is as an organization combined with various exterior and interior features of the United Grand Lodge of England, the ceremonial and administrative headquarters of Freemasonry in England and Wales. Otherwise known as The Freemasons’ Hall, the building possesses several Art Deco features.

Pauline ChakmakjianPauline Chakmakjian is an independent lecturer on both eighteenth-century British Freemasonry and Freemasonry in contemporary Japan (including masonic symbolism), as well as certain aspects of Japanese culture such as historical periods, the City of Kyoto, and Machiya (traditional Japanese townhouses). She holds a BA in English Language & Literature (Whittier), a DipLaw (London) and an MA in Modern French Studies (London). She has given public lectures since 2004 and to date has given over 40 lectures and published five academic papers on Freemasonry.

Hockney A Bigger Splash
David Hockney, A Bigger Splash,
1967, acrylic on canvas
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see

June 12th - Out of the Blue:
the Story of Blue in Art

Have you ever wondered where the blue in medieval illuminated manuscripts came from, or how the glaziers of our Gothic cathedrals made their blue glass? The ancient Britons tattooed their bodies in a blue dye, and, two thousand years later in a Parisian art gallery Yves Kline in a public performance painted his nude models blue and dragged them across his canvasses. Why doesn’t the Virgin Mary wear green, and why is Krishna painted blue? These are some of the questions that I will be addressing. The story of blue takes us from the lapis lazuli mines in Afghanistan to the studios of Titian, Vermeer, Hokusai, Picasso and Matisse, to name but a few. The spirituality of blue led Kandinsky and Franz Marc to name their art movement ‘The Blue Rider’. As a professional artist myself, I pay special attention to contemporary artists who use blue, such as Louise Bourgeois’ sculptures, Ann Hamilton’s 'Blue Jeans' installation, and John Wonnacott’s paintings.

Alexandra DrysdaleAlexandra Drysdale is an art historian and a professional artist specialising in painting, sculpture and performance. Her lectures combine art historical knowledge with personal expertise in aesthetics and artistic techniques. It is this combination that makes her lectures so original and dynamic. Art from all periods, including examples of her own work, is examined from an artist's point of view. This entails a perceptive analysis of a painting's structure, its meaning, and its relationship to the history of art. She puts a particular emphasis on studying the symbolic language of the imagination. Alexandra has a BA (hons) in Fine Art from Chelsea School of Art and an MFA from Cambridge School of Art.

Frith Ramsgate Sands detail
William Powell Frith, Ramsgate Sands, 1854, detail
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see http://commons.wikimedia.org)

July 10th - Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

A verbal, visual and musical kaleidoscope celebrating the British coastline, combining paintings, photographs, posters, sounds of the sea, film, songs,
music, and quotations from writers and poets.

Libby HornerLibby Horner is a freelance art historian, curator, film producer, lecturer and writer. She is the world's leading authority on Frank Brangwyn and is currently compiling the catalogue raisonné of all his work - both fine and decorative art - estimated to be in excess of 12,000 items! Frank Brangwyn; Stained Glass published 2010 was the first catalogue raisonné to be produced as a DVD. The irrepressible Libby has been commissioned to write film scripts about Fay Godwin, Fiore de Henriquez and Patrick Reyntiens and has expanded her lecture repertoire to reflect her eclectic range of interests

Hogarth A Harlot's Progress Plate 2 Hogarth, A Harlot's Progress, Plate 2
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki)

September 11th - Hogarth: Harlots, Rakes & Crashing China

Hogarth's observational genius and humour are explored through the panoramas of his detailed interiors, high life and low, and the lives of his players, both real and fictional. He takes 'snapshots' of his material world, its humdrum chattels and its fashionable luxuries, and hereby captures a wide spectrum of the ceramic traditions of his day, right up to the very eve of the Wedgwood revolution. We catch the challenges and responses between potters East and West and the domestic tustle of pottery versus porcelain. Through his racy narratives - The Harlot, The Rake and Marriage-à-la-Mode - Hogarth offers his own moral commentary on the pursuit of taste and luxury. Prepare to blush.

Lars TharpLars Tharp is an independent lecturer to numerous societies, including NADFAS, National Trust, Royal Institution and the Harveian Society, as well as universities. A regular member of the BBC's 'Antiques Roadshow', in addition to conducting tours overseas. He is also an auctioneer, and ambassador for the Foundling Museum. Publications include Hogarth's China and An A-Z of 20th Century Antiques.

Caravaggio Boy with a Basket of Fruit 1593 Caravaggio, Boy with a Basket of Fruit,
. 1593, oil on canvas
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki)

October 9th - Shadowplay: The Dramatic Art of Caravaggio, the master of the Baroque

After a period of neglect, Caravaggio (1571-1610) has come to be seen as one of the most exciting and relevant old masters of all time. His deliberate flouting of both social and artistic conventions, his homoerotic treatment of the male body and the extreme violence of his life style have turned him into a popular icon of contemporary artists and film makers. However, in this lecture I want to show why we should look at Caravaggio as one of the great innovators in the history of art. He brought a new realism to painting and reinvigorated both classical and Christian subject matter. He restored a sculptural integrity to the treatment of the figure. And, above all, he developed a novel, dramatic art through the play of shadows, which has had a considerable impact on artists from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Nicholas WatkinsNicholas Watkins is Emeritus Reader in the Department of the History of Art and Film, University of Leicester. His numerous publications include Matisse (1984), Bonnard (1994), Bonnard Colour and Light (1998), The Genesis of a Decorative Aesthetic (2001), Marino Marini (2007). TV 'Pierre Bonnard: A Love Exposed' (1998). Regular contributor to The Burlington Magazine and other leading art journals. Lectures extensively to universities, museums, art galleries and art societies. Study tours to Florence, Rome, Paris, South of France, Barcelona and Madrid and Vienna.

John Constable, The Cornfield, 1826 John Constable, The Cornfield,
1826, oil on canvas, National Gallery
(Copyright: this image is in the public domain, see http://en.wikipedia.org)

November 13th - British Artists in Love with Landscape: Gainsborough to Hockney

The British have always had an affection for their landscape. This most lowly of genres was preferred by Gainsborough to the more lucrative portraiture, and his lyrical depictions of the Suffolk countryside influenced Constable. Turner is perhaps our most original and greatest landscapist, his works, where form dissolves into colour, will be contrasted with Constable’s more literal interpretations. Newlyn School artists pioneered plein-air painting in Britain, their sparkling beach scenes demonstrate a poetic response to the environment.

We will look particularly at the importance of location for artists, especially for Constable, Spencer and Hockney where a deep affinity with their surroundings inspires their work.

Vivien HeffernanVivien Heffernan is a teacher and Head of Art Department, 1976-1986, and is art history tutor for the continuing education departments of Essex and Cambridge Universities, colleges and adult education organisations. She is a long-standing lecturer with the Open University on art history courses ranging from the early Renaissance to the 20th century and has wide experience as a freelance lecturer since 1988. Vivien lectured for ADFAS in Australia and NADFAS in New Zealand and is also a practising artist.