Future Lectures

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A Decoratie Art: The History of Wallpapers

Jo Banham

Jo Banham is Director of the Victorian Society Summer School and an independent curator and writer who specialises in the history of Wallpapers, William Morris, and 19th and 20th century interior design. She has extensive experience of lecturing to adult groups and was formerly Head of Adult Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy of Arts. She recently curated an exhibition on William Morris and the Arts and Crafts for Museums in Barcelona and Madrid, and is currently organising an exhibition on the Roaring twenties to open in 2020.

Jo Banham is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer. From 2006-2016 she was Head of Adult Learning at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and before that Head of Learning and Access at the National Portrait Gallery, and Head of Public Programmes at Tate Britain. She has also been Curator of Leighton House and Assistant Keeper at the Whitworth Art Gallery. She has published on many aspects of Victorian and early 20th century decoration and interiors. She is currently curating an exhibition on William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement for the Juan March Fundacion in Madrid and the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya in Barcelona. She is also Director of the Victorian Society Summer School.

Mad about the Boy: Noel Coward

Malcolm Jones

John Osborne said “Mr Coward is his own invention and contribution to this century. Anyone who cannot see that should keep well away from the theatre.” From fairly humble beginnings Noel Coward went on to establish himself as the most astonishing theatre animal of the 20th century. Playwright and composer, performer and director Noel Coward created some of the most memorable songs and plays in theatre history and some very witty quotes along the way.

Malcolm has lectured on the V&A Short Course Programme since 2009 devising and developing a range of courses on Theatre History and Practice.  Malcolm was workshop and Events manager at the V&A Theatre Museum in Covent Garden for 10 years where he was responsible for many theatre talks and workshops for adults and interviewed many leading British actors and directors including Kenneth Cranham, Barry Cryer, June Whitfield, Jude Law, Zoe Wannamaker and Don Black.

He has lectured and led workshops at RADA, Mountview Theatre School, E15 Theatre School,
The Actors Centre and Rose Bruford College. He chairs occasional post show talks for
Ambassador Theatre Group Productions. He lectures for Road Scholar USA with groups visiting UK from America on Theatre and Arts Tours and has lectured for London Arts Discovery Tours. He has also lectured for U3A, the Women's Institute and other social study groups. Malcolm has contributed as a speaker on theatre to many television and radio programmes.

He has also worked with Age Exchange Theatre Trust since 2000 on many community arts programmes with older people and intergenerational theatre projects.

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.

Dazzling Dufy: Invitation to a Luminous Feast with Raoul Dufy

Mary Alexander

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 in his witty yet gentle caricatures of elegant social life.

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. 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. She also worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events. Author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills. Lectured for ADFAS Australia and New Zealand in 2011, 2013 and 2016. Mary is an enthusiastic member and President of The Arts Society Glaven Valley.

A comprehensive survey of his life and the development of his art, from his early struggles as an artist up to his final recognition as RSA, RSW. The people he met - Gauguin, Vuillard, Hornel - and the places he painted - Kirkcudbright, Normandy, Venice - form the core of the talk.

The illustrations cover all aspects of his oeuvre - watercolour, oil, tooled leatherwork woodblock prints and sculpture. A journey with this 'forgotten man' of Scottish art will provide evidence of his skill as a colourist and reclaim his place in art's pantheon.

Mackie was an artist who is notoriously hard to categorise in relation to British art of the time due to his catholic range of influences. He travelled to France for his honeymoon in 1892, where he famously befriended Sereusier and Gauguin. His contact with Gauguin and the Pont Aven school was to have drastic effect on the rest of Mackie's career, most notably in his use of colour and technique. After discussions with Gauguin, Mackie began to use Japanese oak blocks for his printing; he had previously used cut linoleum.

Charles H Mackie (1862-1920) was well-connected in artistic circles, both at home as a close friend of EA Hornel and other Glasgow Boys, and in France, meeting Gauguin, Vuillard and the Nabis. In Edinburgh, where his studio was located, he made a significant contribution to the city's artistic and social circles, as a founder member and chairman of the Society for Scottish Artists, as well as carrying out mural commissions for Patrick Geddes.

People, Places and Piazzas: LIfe and Times of Artist Charles H Mackie

Pat Clarke

Pat Clark is a retired headteacher with a passion for Charles Mackie, a neglected figure in Scottish art. She is the author of ‘People, Places and Piazzas. The Life and Art of Charles H. Mackie’, published by Sansom & Co. (2016).

Teacher of history and politics for over 30 years and latterly, ISI Inspector and Headteacher of Secondary school. Presentations to parents, governors, staff and visitors formed part of the job remit. 2004-6 appointed as VSO Education Adviser to NGO in Cambodia. Lectures to Khmer colleagues, fellow volunteers, sister NGOs and representatives from the Ministry of Education. 

British film director Alfred Hitchcock is often referred to as the ‘master of darkness’. He made over fifty feature films where we often see innocent people were caught up in circumstances beyond their control. His catholic upbringing and uneasy relationship with femininity will be discussed in his early work of the Silent era. London based dramas, ‘Blackmail’ (1929) and ‘Dial M for Murder’ (1954) will be closely analysed. 'Dial M for Murder' shows Hitchcock at his obsessive best with his blonde idee fixe, Grace Kelly, under Hitchcock's powerful male gaze.

Who Done it? Hitchock Master of Suspense

John Francis

As a former lecturer at Art Institute Bournemouth and Exeter University, John Francis has made a career out of educating students on film and animation. But he started out as a painter, and even had a job as an ivory engraver.

Avant-garde painter, designer, decorator, inspired colourist, mother and muse, Vanessa Bell was the warm heart of the Bloomsbury Group, a set who Dorothy Parker once described as “living in squares and loving in triangles”.
Navigating the tides of sexual and artistic revolution with tolerance, irreverence and wit she had a central role in the social and aesthetic life of Bloomsbury; alive to their love affairs, romances, passions and pleasures, and refreshingly uninterested in politics. She was the sister of the writer Virginia Woolf, wife of the critic Clive Bell, and counted the painter Roger Fry and the artist Duncan Grant among her lovers. Her Bloomsbury Group connections and their associated scandals have perhaps lessened the fame of her work – this lecture asks the question was Vanessa Bell the painter as radical as Virginia Woolf the writer?

Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group

Julia Musgrave

Julia Musgrave got her first degree in Chemical Engineering and went on to become a Chartered Information Systems Engineer and IT project manager. In 2008 she decided that life was too short for just one career and decided to become an art historian.

She now has a Graduate Diploma in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art and an MLitt in ‘Art, Style and Design: Renaissance to Modernism, c.1450 – c.1930’ from the University of Glasgow. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. at the University of York the involvement of Roger Fry and the Bloomsbury Group in the development of the Contemporary Art Society from 1910 to 1937. She is a lecturer in Art History at the City Literary Institute (City Lit).

In 1920 a 46 year old woman was persuaded to draw an anthropomorphic bear for the Daily Express. Mary and her husband Herbert Tourtel created Rupert and his adventures which have thrilled generations of both adults and children and is to celebrate his centenary in 2020. This is the backstory of Rupert with the three official Rupert artists and how they made Rupert so successful with subliminal adult themes to their stories. Full of nostalgia, interest and humour this is a wondrous magical tale for adults. One hour lecture with extremely rare images from major Rupert collectors - fascinating.

Rupert - The Anthropomorphic Bear

Howard Smith

Howard Smith

I am a retired graphic designer having worked in leading advertisiing agencies and with my own company for 35 years. My lectures are Graphic Design based where art is used for a defined purpose. I have always been involved in research to understand better communcation and each of my subjects have had a lifetime of research which I use to create fascinating, entertaining and educational hour lectures.

I am a Collector, Historian and Lecturer and specialise in Children's Publications and 1930s documentary films. I have had nationwide exhibitions on the 1950s Eagle and Dan Dare, I am a recognised author on Rupert from the Daily Express, publisher of many Social History books and having worked on Royal Mail Education I have a speciality in 1930s documentary films.

My talks are highly graphic and have a vintage film content.

Currently I am an accredited Arts Society lecturer. I have in Feb 2018 completed a tour of Cyprus for U3A and am also a speaker for local WI and Historical Societies. I speak at National Conventions on Dan Dare and Rupert. My latest talk on the Transatlantic Liners is a result of years of publishing reprints of Shipbuilder from the early twentieth century on both Cunard and White Star Line.

Walter Sickert, one of the most celebrated of English artists working at the turn of the last century, is often considered to be ‘a painter’s painter’. The well-known crime writer Patricia Cornwell has claimed this much-loved artist was responsible for the murders attributed to the infamous Jack the Ripper. This lecture will attempt to untangle the truth of this claim following a trail of murder, mystery, mayhem and paint. Was this much-loved, colourful and enigmatic painter Jack the Ripper? Come and judge the evidence for yourselves!

Michael is a practising artist, and has exhibited at the Royal Academy, the New York Art Fair and elsewhere. He is represented in Manchester Art Gallery and in many private collections both here and abroad. He has appeared on television and radio many times, and in 2004 he and Ghislaine worked the film, Degas and the Dance, which was awarded one of the prestigious Peabody awards.

Murder, Mayhem, Mystery and Paint - The Disturbing Story of Walter Sickert

Michael Howard

Michael is a familiar face to The Arts Society. He is President of The Arts Society Bolton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Although retired, he continues to teach at the Manchester School of Art. He has published widely on European art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his books include: L. S. Lowry: A Visionary Artist; The Impressionists by Themselves; The Stations of the Cross / The Captive Figure and the award-winning dramatic interpretation and publication of material originally performed by the Zurich-based Dadaists of 1916. A New Order: An Evening at the Cabaret Voltaire. His book on Gauguin was written in association with the Gauguin Museum, Tahiti, and his book on Monet for the Musée Marmottan, Paris.  One of his most recent books concerns his wife’s life and work: The Human Touch: Ghislaine Howard. (Ghislaine is also an accredited lecturer of The Arts Society).

Simon Rees has been given access to the photographic collection of his former employers, Welsh National Opera, which illustrate every step of the production process. This lecture traces opera productions from costume designs and set models through to the making of costumes and sets, and rehearsals in the studio and auditorium

Back Stage at The Opera

Simon Rees


Studied at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, receiving a BA and an MA in English Literature. Taught in Italy and Japan, exploring the art and architecture of both countries. From 1989 to 2012 was Dramaturg at Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, working with set, costume and props designers and giving lectures on their work in opera production. Now a freelance writer and lecturer, lectures widely on opera, art history and literature, travelling extensively with travel companies. Has published several novels, including the award-winning The Devil's Looking-Glass, poems and opera librettos

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Hilary Guise


Lectures in the main museums in London for American universities, and has toured widely in the USA and lectured for the Smithsonian Institution. Has also worked for the Art Fund, taught courses for Cambridge University, has been a guest speaker on cruises. Trained as a painter at Central St Martin’s, she exhibits abroad, most recently in Berlin and France. Lives in London and in Provence.

The “Star” of Bethlehem apparently did exist. But what it was exactly and when it shone in the night sky are questions that for two thousand years people have taken on trust. Astronomy can now recreate the night sky at any given moment historically, and we can actually see an intense light, when looking south from Jerusalem towards Bethlehem one November night in 7BC – the year Jesus is thought to have been born. The “Star” signalled a new King for Israel and for the West because of the ancient astrological meanings attached to the planets and signs of the Zodiac. Deep space photos from NASA confirm the wisdom of the Magi who read the night skies accurately, astrologically, so many centuries ago. The question is why would the Magi, if Persian as has always been assumed, set out to find the Saviour? Why would gentiles do this? Would it not make more sense if the wise men were in fact Jewish? And this conclusion in also part of the story.