Past Lectures (2014)
Here are the lectures of 2014. Click on the title to read more and see links associated with the lecture.
You can also use the Calendar bar below to look at other programmes by selecting a specific date.
Charles Harris, a former advertising creative director and author, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine arts Society on ‘The Great Poster War of 1914-18’.
In a world without television and radio, posters and the written word were very powerful. The UK quickly employed leading writers and artists to motivate people to enlist in the war effort. Posters exploited defence of the family such as ‘Women of Britain Say Go’ and ‘What did you do in the War, Daddy?’ On both sides, ideas of manhood were utilised. Patriotism was exploited, often using the Union Jack. Chivalry and enemy barbarity were other themes employed. In Germany U-boat crews were treated as heroes in posters. 5000 Allied ships were sunk by U-boats during the War. However U-boats also targeted civilian ships and the sinking of the Lusitania off Ireland was used in posters to recruit Irishmen to fight from Ireland and America.
Posters also helped to recruit women for the Land Army, to work in munitions factories and for supportive roles in the war effort. Posters were also used to appeal for investment in War loans and bonds. Although the USA was in the War for only the last 18 months, some 2500 posters were produced to encourage the US war effort.
Sarah Deere-Jones, virtuoso harpist and author, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘The History of the Harp’ and also gave short harp recitals on different sorts of harp.
Harps have vertical strings and are played from both sides. One side is a sound-box and another is a strong pillar. There were various early harps in Ancient Egypt and Greece. They then spread throughout the Middle and Far East and to Europe in the 9th and 10th Centuries. By the 14th Century the harp was the main instrument in England, mentioned in Chaucer. Travelling harpists visited big houses, enjoying a very high status. Harps remained popular until Elizabeth I discouraged wandering harpists, preferring the lute. Harps went out of fashion in England but remained popular in Europe.
Key changes were not possible on early harps but this was possible with 17th Century hook harps and more easily on 18th Century pedal harps. Harps were then welcomed back into orchestras, now that they could change key.
Mark Corby, guide and lecturer, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘Forgotten Moorish Spain’. This was a foretaste of the ‘Moorish Spain’ tour being organised by the Society next May.
In 711, the Arabs, led by Tariq, invaded Visigoth Spain, overrunning it in 3 or 4 years. A coup d’etat, in Damascus in 750, led to the last Omeya fleeing to Spain. He set up the progressive Caliphate, which lasted until around 1000. This was multi-cultural and multi-lingual, a beacon of civilization in a backward Western Europe. The new capital was at Cordoba, where there were still considerable Roman remains, including the today’s surviving river bridge. Most of the Great Mosque at Cordoba is still there, albeit with a cathedral built in the middle of it.
In the 11th Century, the Caliphate split into smaller kingdoms and the weakened Arab Spain was largely conquered by Christians from the north, who reached as far south as Toledo by 1085. However, Granada survived for another 400 years until 1492. The Alhambra is a magnificent reminder of the glory of Muslim Spain. It covers 37 acres, with water features, bathhouse, grandiose Moorish architecture and gardens. Its fantastic ceilings, wall tiles and views are a reminder of a civilisation which was much superior to contemporary Western Europe.
Eric Knowles, author and broadcaster, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘Art Deco and all that Jazz’.
The 1925 Paris Exhibition is generally seen as the start of Art Deco. There were temporary galleries on both sides of the Seine, an illuminated 50 foot high fountain and various interiors and items in the Deco style. The Exhibition included the ‘Pavilion L’Esprit Nouveau’, a house of the future with simplistic furniture. Art Deco influenced architecture, including New York skyscrapers as well as art, posters, ceramics, glass and other everyday items. A poster of the 1935 liner, the ‘Normandie’ embodied the Art Deco movement. The ‘Normandie’ was a floating palace in Deco style. Its dining room featured Lalique fountains and ceiling.
Some Deco jewellery was made of diamonds and sapphires, aimed at the upper end of the market. Cheaper Deco jewellery can still be bought at modest prices, such as the item bought by Eric Knowles for £15 and sold for ‘£25’ in the TV programme ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’. Members enjoyed seeing illustrations of up-market Deco figurines as well as Deco ceramics from Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper and other English potteries as well as Lalique glass.
TIM Bruce-Dick, architect and lecturer, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society entitled The Recent Architectural Transformation Of London.
Previous major reconstruction in London followed catastrophes like the 1666 Great Fire and the destruction in the Second World War. The current phase of redevelopment followed the financial boom in London, starting in 1980. Society members were taken on an illustrated tour of new buildings in the capital: the 1985 Lloyds Building, No. One Poultry (1997), 88 Wood Street (2004), the Gherkin (2003), Heron Tower in Bishopsgate (2008), the Cheese-grater and the recently opened Walky-Talkie Building.
Many modern buildings are on sites near London railway stations. The 1980 Broadgate Square development near Liverpool Street has already been demolished to be replaced by new offices for UBS. Exchange Square has been built over Liverpool Street and other major building schemes have taken place at Kings Cross, St Pancras, Paddington and Charing Cross. Additionally new buildings have been erected near St Paul’s, Canary Wharf, the Millennium Dome and Bridge, the Olympic Games site and the GLA Building on the South Bank.
Also mentioned were the new stations on the Jubilee Line, the new US Embassy, the Magazine in Hyde Park and the Great Court of the British Museum.
Immortalised in Cole Porter’s lyrics ‘You’re the top! You’re a Waldorf Salad’, the Waldorf-Astoria New York was a glamorous home to international celebrities in the 1930s.
Mary Alexander gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society entitled ‘Meet me at the Waldorf’.
The first Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York opened on 5th Avenue in 1893. Looking like a French chateau, it was built by the fabulously wealthy Astor family. The interiors were those of a large country house, with sculptures, paintings and silver cutlery and plate. The waiters spoke French and German and the menus were in French. Ladies were allowed in the front door without escorts and could dine on their own.
However by the late 1920s, the area round the first Waldorf Astoria had become too commercial. The site for the new Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue was purchased in 1929 and the Empire State Building was developed on the site of the old hotel. Despite the Crash, the new Waldorf was built rapidly and opened by President Herbert Hoover in 1931. It was designed to attract Hollywood royalty as well as real royalty, with a secret underground entrance for those wishing to avoid publicity. Residents included Greta Garbo, Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra. The new Waldorf was in true Parisian Art Deco style, with the ‘Spirit of Achievement’ statue in the main entrance, diffused lighting, a magnificent staircase, as well as wall paintings and mosaics. The interiors were widely photographed in films.
Mary Alexander trained as an art historian and graduated with a BA in History and History of Art and an MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London. She is now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies. Author of many articles on design and visual awareness, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills.
Food is a brilliant way to get under the skin of past societies. Everyone eats and the choices we make reflect who we are and what we believe. By exploring what was eaten, and by whom, how it was cooked and how it was consumed, we can explore a wide range of beliefs and behaviours.
Dr Annie Gray food historian and TV presenter, wearing Georgian dress, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘Appearing to Advantage – The Art of Dining in Georgian England’.
Georgian England was an era of elegant dinner parties but also of gin palaces, an age of enlightenment and progress, enclosures, steam engines and consumer goods, when shopping became popular.
Dining styles changed from the previous long tables and separated sexes. Copied from France, men and women sat together at round tables on elegant dining chairs, with silver cutlery, including now popular forks and ceramic plates and dishes. Kitchens could be magnificent as at the Royal Pavilion but normal kitchens contained a mid-room table, a dresser, a cooking range and roasting spits. There were no mixers or whisks so a lot of pounding during preparation was necessary. All parts of animals were eaten as well as exotic fruits, grown in heated frames and hothouses.
Following a variety of soups, there was a fish course and then roast meats. Following the meal, the ladies withdrew and the gentlemen could over-indulge and use the chamber pot kept in a cupboard in the now popular sideboard.
Linda Smith, lecturer and gallery guide, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘British Neo-Romantic Art’.
Covering the 1920 to 1955 period, Neo-Romantic Art was influenced by the work of the early 19th Century, Samuel Palmer, in turn a follower of William Blake.
Paul Nash, an official war artist in World War I, initially took little notice of new art movements but in the early 1930s recognised the conflict between landscape and surrealist art. His work, such as ‘Druid Landscape’ (1934) draws on both movements.
Graham Sutherland was similarly influenced. In his Pembrokeshire landscapes he used colours for emotional effect. A war artist in World War II, he painted vivid images of destroyed buildings, manufacturing plants and mines.
John Piper worked in abstract art but at the same time produced landscapes, making collages of British seaside scenes. A World War II war artist, he painted ruined churches and commissioned by the then Queen, he painted views of Windsor Castle against threatening skies, symbolising the threat of invasion.
Henry Moore is famous for his images of people sheltering from bombs in the London Tube. Other Neo-Romantic artists include Ceri Richards, Cecil Collins and John Craxton.
Peter Medhurst, an accomplished musician, gave an illustrated lecture and recital ‘Henry Purcell: The English Orpheus’
Henry Purcell had a similar status in the late 17th Century to Handel in the 18th Century. He wrote many pieces to celebrate events and enjoyed a gift for melody and harmony. Although a great composer, little is known about his life. He was born in Westminster in 1759 into a musical family, as both his father and brother were keen musicians. He was in royal service at an early age. In 1674 he was appointed organ tuner at Westminster Abbey and from 1679 was the organist there. He also taught the harpsichord and many of his works were composed for his students. Peter Medhurst played and sang excerpts from various of Purcell’s compositions.
Only one portrait of Purcell (by John Closterman) is known to exist and other images are taken from this painting. After his death at the early age of 36 in 1695 he was much missed by other musicians and friends. Dryden wrote an ode on his death, put to music by John Blow. Purcell surpassed his contemporaries and was admired by his peers as a leading Baroque composer. After his death he became known as the ‘English Orpheus’.
Henry Purcell: Prelude for harpsichord (Suite No 2 in G minor) – played by Peter Medhurst
Members of the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society and their friends enjoyed a special event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Society. This was the personal appearance of antiques experts Hilary Kay and Paul Atterbury at Oxted’s Barn Theatre in ‘Have You Had It Long Madam’. Hilary Kay and Paul Atterbury shared their behind the scenes experiences, favourite stories and film clips of the Antiques Roadshow and answered questions from the audience about the programme. Hilary Kay has been one of the 56 experts on the show since 1978 while Paul Atterbury has appeared since 1990.
The audience saw and heard the reactions of the public to valuations and about the programme’s presenters from Bruce Parker in 1977 to Fiona Bruce today. They learnt that most of Paul’s snazzy jackets came from charity shops and about the famous experts such as Arthur Negus who have appeared on the show. They heard about the training given to Australian experts who were on the Roadshow in Australia and about the visit of the Queen to meet some of the experts, including Hilary and Paul, when filming took place at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. The Barn Theatre event was amusing, witty and most enjoyable.
To close the year of our anniversery celebrations on a high note, Guy Innes Governor of the Titsey Foundation, kindly offered us exclusive access to Titsey Place for the day as a way of saying thank you to LDFAS volunteer guides. A programme was planned to allow everyone time for a guided tour by our trained members around the house and a relaxing walk in the gardens. This was followed by an outstanding afternoon tea. It was a real delight: a classic English summer day out. Even the sun shone for us.
Leslie Primo gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘Kenwood – Dido Belle and the Beginnings of the Abolition of Slavery’. Britain was heavily involved in the profitable slave trade and between 1662 and 1807 transported over 3 million African slaves on British ships, mainly to work on the sugar plantations in the West Indies.
Dido Belle was the daughter of Sir John Lindsay, then a Captain in the West Indies and Maria Belle an African slave. Sir John brought Dido Belle to England in 1765 when she was 4 years old. She was brought up at Kenwood, the home of John Lindsay’s uncle, Lord Mansfield, where she appeared in a painting of 1777. Lord Mansfield, later Lord Chief Justice, ruled in 1772 in favour of a runaway slave, finding that slavery had no basis in England, where it was effectively abolished. He was an early supporter of the movement to abolish the slave trade and slavery, also supported by Josiah Wedgwood and other industrialists;
Lord Mansfield also ruled in 1783 on the Zong case where slaves were thrown overboard off Jamaica and the shipowners claimed compensation from their insurers for the loss of “cargo”. Mansfield only ordered a retrial of which there is no record that one took place. This case became a cause celebre for the Anti Abolitionist campaign. An account of this incident inspired J M W Turner to paint The Slave Ship which was exhibited at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1840.
Dido Belle inherited money from Sir John Lindsay and Lord Mansfield, being one of several successful black people in London. Eventually Britain’s part in the slave trade was ended in 1807 and in 1833 slavery was abolished in the British Empire.
The life of Dido Belle was dramatised in the award winning film Belle in 2013. Look at the movies’ official website to view the trailer and a background feature.
Leslie Primo is a graduate with a degree in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck, University College, London. Leslie currently lectures at the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and teaches a variety of art history courses at the City Literary and Bishopsgate Institutes in London.