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 - Magnificent Mosaics
  • December - Thomas Lawrence in Bath
  • 2021

  • January - Picasso's Guernica
  • February - Is this the Real Life ?
  • March - The Lute in Paintings
  • April - A Garden Like No Other
  • May - Carmen in Seville
  • June - This won't hurt a bit !
  • July - The healing power of plants
  • Our Visits

    Our Study Day

    Wessex Area Study Days


  • February - The Newlyn School
  • April - Aztec, Maya and Inca Art
  • October - Russian Culture: Peter the Great to Stalin
  • 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 is one of the greatest academic institutions, its constituent libraries creating the largest academic collection of books and manuscripts in the world. At the heart of the city’s University quarter is the Central Bodleian complex, begun in the 15th century and completed in 2015, presenting a fascinating lexicon of architectural styles and tastes, and providing solutions to changing academic demands.

Justin Reay, who for ten years was a senior academic manager of the Bodleian and knows the buildings intimately, takes us from the medieval grace of the Divinity School and the magical Duke Humfrey’s Library through Thomas Bodley’s quirky Old Bodleian, the stylistically anachronistic but historic Convocation House, Hawksmoor’s neo-Classical Clarendon Building, and Gibbs’s iconic Radcliffe Camera, to Giles Gilbert Scott’s cyclopean New Bodleian (now redesigned as the high tech and glitzy Weston Library), a unique art historical journey through time and space in the heart of academia.

After officer service in the Royal Navy, Justin enjoyed a long career in management before studying the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oxford, for which he was awarded the University’s Diploma with Distinction in 2005.

During his studies at Oxford Justin was invited to tutor for the University’s international programmes, and became a senior academic manager for the Bodleian Library, gaining a detailed knowledge of the Central Bodleian buildings.

Justin has been an AS Accredited Lecturer since 2018, speaking on a variety of art history topics.

Wednesday 18th Nov 2020Magnificent Mosaics – windows into the colourful Roman world
by Christopher Bradley

The Romans have left us with a remarkable artistic record of their lifestyle, beliefs, achievements and entertainment in the form of beautiful mosaics. From the best sites and museums in the world we see how they built on earlier Greek traditions; the cities in which they lived; the Gods and myths in which they believed; and the exotic lives of the Romans themselves - from Britain to Sicily, from Morocco to Syria.

This lavishly illustrated lecture uses only mosaics from start to finish, bringing the distant world of the Romans gloriously back to life with vibrant images full of action. This is the rise and fall of the Roman Empire as you have never seen it before – through the eyes of the Roman people themselves and the contemporary mosaics they created to reflect and decorate their fascinating, colourful world.

Christopher Bradley is a cultural historian, gaining an honours degree at Liverpool University before working in Arabia for several years. He mastered Arabic and travelled widely throughout the Middle East and North Africa researching, writing and photographing, subsequently producing many guidebooks and supplying photographs to international libraries and museums. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and gives lectures all over the world. For 40 years he has been leading group tours in the Middle East, Ethiopia, Iran and Central Asia.

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. The Thomas Lawrence exhibition at the Holburne in Bath has had to be postponed, probably until early 2021, but her latest book, 'Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age' is due to be published in October 2020.

Wednesday 20th Jan 2021Picasso’s Guernica
by Paul Chapman

Guernica is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. Outraged by the brutality of the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica durIng the Spanish civil war, Picasso created the piece in 1937 but maintained that it would not return to Spain until democracy had been restored. Picasso died in France in 1973. It was only some years after General Franco’s death that the enormous mural returned to Madrid in 1981.

Paul Chapman is an art historian and a National Gallery trained guide. As a freelance Paul delivers courses and lectures for a wide range of educational organisations and is a guest speaker in local schools giving talks and assisting pupils with their art history projects. He says of Guernica: “It shows the horror, cruelty and devastation of modern warfare. Picasso explores many themes, love, death, nationhood, motherhood and his own life at that point in time. The painting is full of cross references to the history of art”.

Wednesday 17th Feb 2021Is this the Real Life ?
by Mary Sharp

From Plato's cave to the Matrix movie, an exploration of the ways writers and artists have challenged our perceptions of reality.

Mary has a degree in drama from Manchester University. She worked for many years for BBC Radio 4 on some of its most popular programmes including Start the Week and Woman’s Hour as well as six years as a Commissioning Editor for all Sunday programmes on Radio 4. She then moved into teaching, first at Beaconsfield High School and then for eight years she was Assistant Head at Dr Challoner’s High School where she taught English Literature and was the Director of the Sixth Form. She now runs a wide range of literature courses for adults and is an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society.

Wednesday 17th Mar 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 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 2021Carmen in Seville
by Simon Rees

Bizet’s opera Carmen, first produced in Paris in 1875, is about the flamboyant, tragic figure of the gypsy woman Carmen and her lovers, the soldier Don Jose and the bullfighter Escamillo. Based on a novella by Prosper Mérimee, and set in the ancient and beautiful city of Seville, it has become one of the best loved of all operas.

Simon Rees studied at Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a BA and an MA in English Literature. He has taught in Italy and Japan, exploring the art and architecture of both countries. From 1989 to 2012 Simon was Dramaturg at Welsh National Opera in Cardiff. He is now a freelance writer and lecturer and travels extensively presenting lectures on opera, art history and literature. Simon has published several novels (including the award-winning The Devil’s Looking-Glass), poems and opera librettos.

Wednesday 16th Jun 2021This won’t Hurt a Bit !
by Geri Parlby

For more than 5000 years artists have been attempting to depict illness and healing in their art.  From Egyptian wall paintings, medieval manuscripts, Renaissance masterpieces, and 19th and 20th century realism, the mysteries of medicine have inspired artworks around the world.  In this lecture we will look at some of the bizarre, amusing and often startlingly realistic depictions of medicine in art throughout the ages.

Geri was a former Fleet Street journalist and film PR before gaining a first-class honours degree in History and Theology, a Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute and a Theology doctorate from Roehampton University in London. She has been researching and lecturing for the past 14 years both in the UK and internationally; initially pursuing her interest in religious art, she has gained an eclectic knowledge of many subjects. She has lectured all over the country and is principal lecturer on the Arts Society South West Area’s History of Art course. Her lectures are renowned for their light touch and humour.

Wednesday 21st Jul 2021The Healing Power of Plants
by Tim Walker

Why plant derived treatments are not an alternative; instead they are the real thing.

Mankind has exploited the medicinal properties of plants for thousands of years, yet the role of plants in modern medicine is still considered to be peripheral by many people.  This talk attempts to put the record straight and to show that plant products are used everyday by all of us to relieve pain and suffering, to heal wounds and cure diseases.

Botanist, gardener, lecturer, presenter, author and after-dinner speaker, Timothy Walker was Director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden from 1986 to 2014, during which time he started lecturing - he has now spoken at over 1500 venues! Since 2014 he has been a college lecturer and tutor at Somerville College Oxford, and now holds similar positions at Pembroke College and Hertford College. In 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London.

Those fortunate enough to attend Timothy’s Study Day in March 2019 will verify that he is a captivating and humorous speaker, with an astonishing knowledge of plants. Not to be missed!


Study Day

Wessex Area Study Days

Wednesday 17th Feb 2021The Newlyn School

Six lectures over two days exploring the art and artists of the Newlyn and Lamorna schools. To be held in the Market Lavington Community Hall.

DAY 1:Wednesday, 17th February 2021 1.Art, Fish and Sail 2.Fame for the Newlyn School in the 1880s and 1890s 3.When the Cows Come Home

DAY 2:Thursday, 18th February 2021 1.The Forbes School of Painting 1899 -1939 2.Love, Art and Tragedy: Close Encounters in a Cornish Art Colony 3.Artists of the Lamorna Valley (1895 -1955).

The February dates are now full, so these talks will be repeated in March:
Wednesday, 17th March 2021 (DAY 2 content)
and Thursday, 18th March 2021 (DAY 1 content).

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.

Catherine Wallace is a freelance art historian, curator, writer and lecturer specialising in British 19th and 20th century art with a focus on artists who were based in Cornwall, England.

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 29th April 2021 if demand warrants.)
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.

Wednesday 27th Oct 2021Russian Culture from Peter the Great to Stalin

Six days of lectures exploring art and culture in times of dramatic change.

Day 1 Douglas Skeggs Wednesday, 27th October 2021
Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, The Romanovs

Day 2 Rosamund Bartlett Wednesday, 10th November 2021
Art and Literature: Tolstoy and Chekhov, Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

Day 3 Rosamund Bartlett Wednesday, 24th November 2021
Chagall to Heifetz, The Art of the Russian North, Russian Christmas Traditions

Day 4 Rosamund Bartlett Wednesday 26th January 2022
The Revolution in Russian Art, Constructivism and the Russian Avant-Garde, Russian Art and Architecture under Stalin

Day 5 Brian Healey Wednesday, 23rd February 2022
Decoding the Russian Icon: Isaak Levitan and the Poetry of Landscape, The Road to Revolution: Russian painting 1861-1917

Day 6 Peter Medhurst Wednesday 23rd March 2022
Tchaikovsky and ‘The Five’, Stravinsky and Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

Repeated (if necessary) as follows:
Day 1 Douglas Skeggs Friday, 29th October 2021
Day 2 Rosamund Bartlett Thursday, 11th November 2021
Day 3 Rosamund Bartlett Thursday, 25th November 2021
Day 4 Rosamund Bartlett Thursday, 27th January 2022
Day 5 Brian Healey Thursday, 24th February 2022
Day 6 Peter Medhurst Thursday, 24th March 2022

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.

Other Events