Special Interest Days 2017

These special interest days take place at the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton and normally take the form of two lectures in the morning followed by lunch. A further lecture or discussion follows in the afternoon.

Special Interest Days in 2018.

Previous years’ programmes for special interest days 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 20092008, 2007.

Thursday, 23 March 2017, Backstage at the Opera

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), Brünnhilde on Grane rides into Siegfried’s funeral pyre in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), 1924

This lecture follows the production process of performing an opera through drawings, costume making, set production, rehearsals and finally performing the opera.

Simon Rees was Dramaturg at the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff. He worked with set, costume and props designers and gives lectures on the work involved in opera production. He lectures widely on opera, art history and literature.



Thursday, 7 September 2017, The Romanovs – Tyrants and Martyrs of Imperial Russia

Peter the Great (1672-1725) by Paul Delaroche
Peter the Great (1672-1725) by Paul Delaroche, 1838

This study day follows the course of this hard, determined, often brutal dynasty who ruled Russia for over three hundred years, from Peter the Great, the founder of St Petersburg, through his eccentric daughter Elizabeth, to Catherine the Great, the most powerful of all the Empresses of Russia, who had no real claim to the throne, and on to the tragic figure of Nicholas II, the last Tsar.

Douglas Skeggs read History of Art at Magdalene College Cambridge. He is a writer, artist and television presenter. He is also a member of Cambridge Fine Arts and director of New Academy Arts.

Thursday, 7 December 2017 – Festive Supper, Mrs Beeton’s Christmas

Mrs Beeton Xmas Plum Pudding, 1890s
Mrs Beeton’s Xmas Plum Pudding, 1890s

A look at mid-Victorian Christmas through the gaze of Isabella Beaton. Her book of Household Management published in 1861 contains recipes reflecting the turmoil over Christmas – was it an excuse for drunken revelry, better off banned or at least forgotten? Or was it an occasion on which to celebrate with family and friends and to think of those less fortunate. The lecture uses recipe books, cards, etchings and book illustrations to show the development of Christmas. It also covers house decorations and alternatives to the blockbuster film on TV!

Annie Gray is one of Britain’s leading food historians with degrees from Oxford, York and Liverpool. She works with The National Trust and Historic Royal Palaces as well as with the BBC.

Copyright The Arts Society Walton, 2017
Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal), A View of Walton Bridge, 1754, by permission of the trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London