Meetings and Days of Special Interest in 2020



January 8 (second Wednesday)


– the world-class art, architecture and design of London Underground

Ian Swankie


The world’s first underground railway has a wonderful heritage of architecture, ingenious design, powerful advertising posters and unique calligraphy. In this talk we plot the early development of the Underground, examine the legacy of Frank Pick and Charles Holden, look at some of the iconic posters, and celebrate the award winning architecture of the modern Tube in the Jubilee Line Extension. We’ll also take a peek at some of the forthcoming Crossrail stations, designed by some of the world’s top architects  

February 5


The Old Master of Modern Art?

Linda Smith

Linda Smith MA is an art historian with a particular knowledge of British art and the art of the 20thC. Her MA is from Birkbeck, specialising in Postmodernism. Linda is an accredited Arts Society lecturer and an experienced Lecturer/Gallery Guide at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern, where she has worked for the past 17 years. Born near Paris, Bonnard studied law, but by the late 1880s had given this up for painting. In 1887 he met the artists Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. Taking their inspiration from Gauguin, in 1888 they formed the Nabis group (the name derives from the Hebrew word for 'Prophets'). In 1912 Bonnard bought a house in Vernonnet, a village on the Seine, north west of Paris. He spent most of his time there until 1925, when he moved to the south of France, but still returned to Vernonnet frequently. Bonnard's paintings are characterised by a great richness of colour and sense of warmth. As well as landscapes and domestic, interior scenes, Bonnard frequently painted his wife, naked in her bath or bedroom. 

March 5


​Siân Walters

Siân Walters is an art historian and lectures for the National Gallery, NADFAS (The Arts Society), The Wallace Collection, Friends of the Royal Academy, The London Art History Society, The Art Fund and many other art societies and colleges in the UK and Europe. At the turn of the 16th century, a Netherlandish painter who signed himself Hieronymus Bosch created one of the world’s most fascinating and confounding works of art. The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych, a three-part painting whose side panels can be closed like doors. Between Eden to the left and Hell to the right is Bosch’s vision of naked bliss. But what does it all mean?  


March 11


An Architectural Discovery

Andrew Davies

Bustling, noisy, vibrant, New York epitomises the modern city at its best (and occasional worst).  We will explore its architectural story, from brownstones to Beaux Arts to Art Deco to modernism, revelling in such masterpieces as the Chrysler and Woolworth buildings, the Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central and the Empire State Building. We will also visit such gems as the Frick Collection.  Sit back and marvel! Andrew is extra-mural tutor for London, Essex and The Open University; author of nine books, including The East End Nobody Knows; a frequent contributor to radio and television, he has lectured all over the world and organises walks to complement his lectures.  

April 1



Rupert Willoughby


Basingstoke and its Contribution to World Culture is a whimsical, yet scholarly attempt to explain the phenomenon that is Basingstoke.

Sadly, Basingstoke is one of the most derided towns in England, famous for its pointless roundabouts, vacuous shopping centres and hostile modernist architecture. Thanks to demented post-War planners, this has been the fate of towns across Britain. 

Rupert Willoughby is a prize-winning historian, a Classicist, a lecturer on the national circuit, a poet, a father and a wild swimmer with a passion for castles, lakes and uncovering the layers of the past. A graduate with First Class Honours in History from the University of London (where he immersed himself in the ‘Byzantine’, or medieval Greek Empire), he is the author of the best-selling Life in Medieval England for Pitkin.

May 6


Rosalynd Whyte

In 1936 Dame Laura Knight became the first woman to be elected a full member of the Royal Academy in London. In her extraordinary career she painted landscapes, portraits, seascapes and scenes from the circus, the ballet and the theatre. This lecture provides an overview of her fascinating career and some of her remarkable achievements. BA and MA from Goldsmith’s College, and an MA (distinction) from Birkbeck College.

Rosalynd is an experienced guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Royal Academy and Greenwich and lectures at Tate, Dulwich Picture Gallery, to independent art societies and on cruises as well as leading art appreciation holidays.

June 3


Norwegian Arts from Stave Churches to Snohetta

Rosamund Bartlett

From the elaborate carvings on ancient wooden Stave churches to the ultra-modern design of Oslo-based practice Snøhetta ('Snow Hat'), the Norwegian arts have always had a close relationship with nature. This lecture will explore how Norways' dramatic, rugged and beautiful landscape has inspired and shaped its music, painting and architecture from the medieval period to the present day. Subjects to be discussed include the 'animal art' of the Viking-era Urnes Stave Church, the music of Edvard Grieg, the paintings of Munch and Astrup, and the cutting-edge landscape architectural projects commissioned for Norway's National Tourist Routes.

July 1

JACQUES MAJORELLE: Artist and Couturier

Caroline Holmes

The Majorelle Garden was designed by the French artist, Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962), son of the Art Nouveau ébéniste (cabinet-maker) of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. As a young aspiring painter, Jacques Majorelle was sent to Morocco in around 1917 to convalesce from a serious medical condition.

Caroline, with a passion for gardens, has lectured in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe, Japan and on cruises to the Baltic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Indian Ocean. In 2017 she returned to The Arts Society in New Zealand. Lectures for the University of Cambridge ICE (Course Director for International Summer Programme), the Royal Horticultural Society, museums, and specialist travel companies. Consultant designer specializing in evoking historic, artistic and symbolic references. Author of 11 books including Water Lilies and Bory Latour-Marliac, the genius behind Monet’s water lilies;

September 2


Traveller, Archaeologist, Orientalist, Imperialist

Neil Faulkner

For a woman of her time and class, Gertrude Lowthian Bell’s achievements were extraordinary. She broke free of social constraint and convention to make outstanding contributions in the male-dominated worlds of exploration, archaeology, and imperial statesmanship. Partly because of this, however, commentary has tended to be gushing and uncritical.

Bell was a complex figure. The daughter of the one of the richest men in Britain, it was class privilege that made her achievements possible. Her politics were reactionary: she opposed women’s suffrage, campaigned for volunteers for the trenches, and opposed anti-colonial movements after the First World War.

This lecture will assess the character, career, and contribution of Gertrude Bell to exploration, archaeology, and imperial politics in the context of the tumultuous age through which she lived.

Educated at King's College Cambridge and Institute of Archaeology UCL, Neil Faulkner works as lecturer, writer, archaeologist and occasional broadcaster. Research Fellow, University of Bristol. Editor, Military History Monthly. Director, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project. Director, Great Arab Revolt Project. Author of The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain, Apocalypse, Hidden Treasure, Rome: Empire of the Eagles, and The Ancient Greek Olympics: a visitor's guide. Author of forthcoming Lawrence of Arabia's War. Major TV appearances include Channel 4's Time Team, BBC2's Timewatch, Channel Five's Boudica Revealed and Sky Atlantic's The British.

Gertrude Bell in 1909, visiting archaeological excavations in Babylon

October 7  (following AGM at 10.30)


Tim Redmond

Tim spent his earlier career as a detective in the Metropolitan Police, working on murder, kidnap and anti-corruption investigations as well as in covert criminal intelligence. He finally retired as a Detective Superintendent and as the first police adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During his career Tim often gave presentations to large audiences, either for operational briefings or at conferences.

On retirement Tim decided on a complete change of direction, becoming a City of London tour guide and working for a London tour operator, specialising in tours around the UK. He then used the knowledge gained to become a guide within the Palace of Westminster, specialising in tours of Big Ben. 

November 4


Invitation to a Luminous Feast

Mary Alexander

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was a key player in early twentieth century avant garde art, design and literary/theatrical circles in Paris. As a widely travelled polymath, Dufy's charismatic personality, wit and curiosity about the world was infectious.

His imagination and technical virtuosity - across a range of media including painting and lithography, posters, book illustration, theatrical set design, textiles and fashion, ceramics and large murals - cut across all conventional boundaries. Whether a small intricate woodcut illustrating a love poem, or the truly gigantic 1937 world fair murals depicting the role of electricity in the modern age, the effect is mesmerising.

Dufy defies categorisation, constantly innovating and experimenting with new materials and effects. His analysis of the visual world is sophisticated and joyous in equal measure. Perhaps this goes some way to explain why some later critics fail to grasp its complexity and pigeonhole him a 'decorative artist', or misunderstand the irony.

With thirty years' experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and a MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London Mary Alexander's experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, visiting lecturer at Christie's Education in London, museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies

Raoul Dufy, Regatta at Cowes, 1934, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C


Wednesday 25 November


Rosamund Bartlett

Rosamund Bartlett follows her lecture in May by discussing three of her favourite topics - Art and Music and Literature - as they have developed in, been affected by and influenced Russian society.   

December 2


A Celebration

Andrew Davies

Contrary to popular myth, the Victorians thoroughly amused themselves - and particularly at Christmas.

In the 1830s and 1840s, a rapidly changing Britain saw the rise of important new traditions. Prince Albert's Christmas tree at Windsor, Rowland Hill and the penny post, the world's first Christmas card in 1843, Charles Dickens' 'Christmas Carol' published that same year, circus at Astley"s amphitheatre, Joe Grimaldi the clown and pantomime, Tom Smith's Christmas crackers.....

These festivities and more combined to create the Victorian Christmas. We will revel in their celebrations.

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