Events in 2020/21

Here are the events for next year as they stand. We will update this list as it develops. Go to the Online Lectures page for lectures and virtual tours during lock-down.

    Our Lectures


  • October - Bodley's Buildings
  • November - The Artist in the Machine
  • December - Thomas Lawrence in Bath
  • 2021

  • January - to be booked
  • February - The Lute in Paintings
  • March - March 2021 lecture
  • April - A Garden Like No Other
  • May - May 2021 lecture
  • June - June 2021 Lecture
  • July - July 2021 Lecture
  • Our Visits

    Our Study Day

    Wessex Area Study Days


  • April - Aztec, Maya and Inca Art
  • Other Events

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Wednesday 21st Oct 2020Bodley’s Buildings: The architecture of the Bodleian Library Complex at Oxford
by Justin Reay

The Bodleian Library presents a fascinating subject combining history, architecture, patronage and scholarship. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain second in size only to the British Library, it incorporates a group of five buildings in central Oxford: the oldest dates from 1488, built to house a collection donated by the Duke of Gloucester, but it only lasted for 60 years.

It was Sir Thomas Bodley who rescued the site and founded the Bodleian, refurbishing the building from 1598 to 1602, and it was his idea to ensure that a copy of every book published in England would be deposited in the new library.

Since 1602 it has expanded over the centuries, slowly at first but with increasing momentum over the last 150 years, The New Bodleian was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and was built between 1937 and 1940. Thus it has kept pace with the ever-growing accumulation of books, papers and manuscripts which have established it as a centre of research for scholars from around the world. The combined Bodleian Libraries now hold over 13 million printed items!

Justin Reay trained as an officer in the Royal Navy before a long career in business. After retiring early in 2001 he studied the History of Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Art and Architecture at the University of Oxford, and was awarded the University’s Diploma with Distinction in 2005.

A frequent lecturer and tutor in naval history, Justin is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society, a member of Council and online Forum Editor of the Society for Nautical Research, Executive Committee member of the Samuel Pepys Club, a member of the Navy Records Society, an advisor on naval history and marine art to English Heritage, the BBC, the Bodleian Library, and museums and history foundations in Spain, France, the USA and Australia.

Justin’s current research into naval and maritime art in the National Trust will produce a catalogue raisonné of key artworks in a major national collection.

Wednesday 18th Nov 2020The Artist in the Machine. The world of AI-Powered Creativity.
by Prof. Arthur Miller

Today machines have already shown glimpses of creativity in art, literature and music. As Artificial Intelligence develops, completely new forms of the arts, currently unimaginable, are bound to emerge. I will explore this brave new world, probing questions like, Will computers be creators like us and even go beyond us? Will we have to rethink concepts like 'art' and 'creativity' and, if so, how? I will discuss all this and much, much more.

(The example below is a computer image of the photo (top left) in the style of Van Gogh's Starry Night.)

ARTHUR I. MILLER is fascinated by the nature of creative thinking. He has published many critically acclaimed books, including Insights of Genius; Einstein, Picasso (shortlisted for a Pulitzer) and writes for the Guardian, The New York Times and Wired. He is professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science at University College London. His latest book is a tour of creativity in the age of machines. Moreover it is not a dystopian account – rather it celebrates the creative possibities of AI in the arts.

Wednesday 16th Dec 2020The wonder of the times: Thomas Lawrence in Bath
by Amina Wright

Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) had very little education and as an artist was self-taught. He began drawing as a child in Devizes, where his father was the innkeeper of The Bear Hotel, and at this popular stopping off point for visitors to Bath he would be paid for capturing images of the guests. In 1780 his father became bankrupt and the family moved to Bath for the next seven years, where Lawrence supported his parents through his paintings.

He became one of the most successful portrait painters of his time, and one of the last in the Romantic tradition. He succeeded Joshua Reynolds as official painter to George III, was the youngest member of the Royal Academy at the age of 25, and in 1820 became its president. Patronised by the wealthy and famous, from The Duchess of Devonshire to Mrs Siddons and The Duke of Wellington, he was always in demand.

This portrait of Arthur Atherley, below, was recently acquired by the Holburne Museum, Bath.

As Curator of Fine Art and Senior Curator of the Holburne Museum in Bath, Amina Wright was a key member of the team that delivered the museum’s highly successful redevelopment. 

She has produced a number of major exhibitions on 18th century British Art and Old Masters, published books on Georgian Bath, Joseph Wright of Derby and George Stubbs, and lectured widely in these areas. She has also worked as a collections and interiors curator for English Heritage and for the National Trust, among others.  Her current projects include an exhibition on the early career of Thomas Lawrence and an MA in Christianity and the Arts at King’s College London.

Wednesday 20th Jan 2021January 2021 Lecture

To be booked

Wednesday 17th Feb 2021The Lute within Old Masters’ Paintings
by Adam Busiakiewicz

Delighted to announce that Adam has agreed to bring this forward to 2021 !

The lute holds a special place in the history of art: painters of the Italian Renaissance depicted golden-haired angels plucking its delicate strings, evoking celestial harmony; in the sixteenth century, during the rise of humanism, the lute was a becoming pastime of educated courtiers, as depicted by the likes of Holbein and Titian; throughout the seventeenth century, the instrument continued to play a key role in emphasising the intimate, debauched and transient pleasures of interior scenes by Jan Steen and portraits by Frans Hals.

Adam Busiakiewicz is an art historian, lutenist and lecturer. After graduating in history at UCL in 2010 he was Head of Historical Interpretation (curator) at Warwick Castle for three years, and then took a Master’s Degree in Fine and Decorative Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Art History at Warwick University. He regularly gives talks, tours and lectures to both public and professional audiences at the Wallace Collection and has lectured at the National Gallery, including a series of talks there on the lute in paintings.
Adam gave us a marvellous lecture on Armour from the Leeds Armoury last year.

Wednesday 17th Mar 2021March 2021 Lecture

To be booked

Wednesday 21st Apr 2021A Garden Like No Other: Edward James and Las Pozas.
by James Russell

[Rescheduled from 2020.]
In the depths of the Mexican jungle lies what looks like the remains of a lost civilisation, with arches and stairways which tower over waterfalls and pools. However, these were built only in the last century by a rich English eccentric and surrealist, Edward James.

This colourful lecture tells the story of his garden at Las Pozas, including an array of intriguing characters and exploring the wider theme of the modern artist-gardener.

Having studied History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, James Russell enjoyed a lengthy stint selling contemporary paintings and sculpture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an experience that inspired him to begin writing and lecturing on 20th century art. Based in Bristol, he has given illustrated talks and run study days for many museums, including the Victoria & Albert, Dulwich Picture Gallery, National Maritime Museum and Salisbury Museum.

Wednesday 19th May 2021May 2021 Lecture

To be booked

Wednesday 16th Jun 2021June 2021 Lecture

To be booked

Wednesday 21st Jul 2021July 2021 Lecture

To be booked


Study Day

Wessex Area Study Days

Wednesday 14th Apr 2021The Art and Culture of the Aztecs, Maya and Incas.

Rescheduled from 2020.
Two days exploring the ancient and modern splendours of Mexico and Peru.
The Aztecs, Maya and Incas, as well as the modern artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Day 1: Ancient Mexico, Modern Mexico, Peru: The Incas and their Predecessors.
Day 2: Maya Dynasties and City States, Arts of the Ancient Maya, The Maya Heritage, Past and Present.
Dates: Wednesday 14th April and Thursday 15th April 2021
(and a second date of Wednesday 28th April and Thursday 29h April 2021.)
Each day starts at 10:15 for 10:25 and ends at about 15:00
Location: Market Lavington Community Hall.
See the Wessex Area website for more details and the application form.

Chloe Sayer is a freelance specialist in the art and culture of Latin America. She has lectured around the world and has worked on television documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. In 2016 Chloe was awarded the prestigious Ohtli medal by the Mexican Government for her long-standing commitment to Mexican culture.

Other Events