Friday 19th July 2024 (CEST)

2008-09 season's lectures

October 2008

Swinging 60's

Marion Hundleby


Often regarded as a turning point in social and cultural history, this lecture provides an overview of the design and decorative art of this memorable decade. Placing the 1960's in the context of changing social and demographic trends, the lecture considers examples of fashion, product and interior design, and features artifacts from the mini car to the mini skirt. The lecture also considers changes in marketing, the significance of London, the ubiquitous Union Jack motif and the revival of earlier styles such as Art Nouveau.

Summary of the lecture

The opening lecture of the Nerja Decorative & Fine Arts Society was The Swinging 60's by Marion Hundleby, design historian who presented slides of design trends in 1960's England to a large audience who enjoyed remembering that creative decade.

With increased incomes in England, design began to challenge conventions and emphasise mobility and young people. Mobility appeared with the Morris Mini, an affordable car for the general public, and portable radios which brought the young to demand more music to carry with them, that of the rising Beatles, Rolling Stones and Who.

Ms Hundleby stressed women's fashions, some by Mary Quant and Biba, including the mini-skirt and Twiggy's androgynous look, men's newly colourful clothes, furniture which could be disassembled and moved, graphic design, including the use of the Union Jack on household objects, and magazine covers.

She featured brightly coloured textiles for decoration, mass produced housewares from Habitat, Art Nouveau wall posters, all to change quickly the appearance of a room. New marketing methods and growing television helped those styles to gain popularity.

The Swinging 60's left a legacy of change and mobility, an appreciation of innovative designs and fashion, and the chance for ordinary people to explore and enjoy life.

More about the lecturer Marion Hundleby...
In 2000 Marion was given an award by the Millennium Commission to research domestic design over the last sixty years, with particular reference to the use of space, and changes of style in furniture and decoration. The resulting publication, together with a DVD giving excerpts from interviews, was distributed to libraries in parts of the Midlands and beyond.

Further information:
Here are the titles of some books that Marion suggests we might want to look at.
Breward, Christopher et al eds; Swinging Sixties V&A Publications 2006
Gardiner, Juliet; From the Bomb to the Beatles. Collins and Brown 1999
Hulanicki, Barbara; From A to Biba London 1983
Masters, Brian; The Swinging Sixties Constable 1985
Quant, Mary; Quant by Quant London 1966
Powell, Polly and Peel, Lucy; 50's and 60's Style, Apple Press,Quintet Publishing 1988
Whitley, Nigel; From Modernism to Mod, Design Council 1987.

November 2008

Cooking for Kings:
the life of Careme, the first celebrity chef

Ian Kelly

BA Hons MA(Cantab) MA(UCLA)

In a lavishly illustrated lecture, Ian Kelly traces the meteoric career of history's first celebrity chef, from abandoned orphan on the streets of Revolutionary Paris to international celebrity, cook to Napoleon, the Prince Regent and the Tsar of Russia. A culinary tour of the pleasure-palaces of Britain and Europe in the ultimate age of gastronomic indulgences when, for the first time, food and art history became intimately linked, chefs became celebrities and the modern restaurant was born. "Cooking For Kings" was Radio 4 Book of the Week, it became a stage hit in New York and a Channel 4 documentary.

To read about Ian Kelly, visit his website
Summary of the lecture

Before TV cooking shows, before Michelin stars, there was Antonin Careme, the first celebrity chef. Ian Kelly presented Careme and his meteoric rise to become the chef of kings and emperors.

Abandoned in the Paris slums at age 9 in 1792, he was taken in by a cook and apprenticed to him. Later Careme was an apprentice to a pastry cook and eventually established his own 'patisserie'.

His career began when he was discovered by Talleyrand who recommended him to his friends: Napoleon, Tsar Alexander I, the Prince Regent (later King George IV). Cooking often for hundreds of guests, Careme impressed them with dozens of different dishes.

Among Careme's innovations were the chef's high hat, the custom of soup as the first course as a democratic gesture since even the poor ate soup in Revolutionary times. He introduced a mixture of 'service a la francais', a type of buffet and the new 'service a la russe' with courses served as they are today. He dazzled diners with spun sugar molded into buildings or pergolas as table decorations. His sugar creations and delicious dishes helped to raise the question--is cooking really art? Through his many published illustrated cookbooks, he gained fame and fortune and left a legacy of recipes which have been consulted for many decades.

November 25th 2008 - extra lecture


David Bennett

Graphology is a well researched and validated system of analysis to determine the personality of an individual through the study of strokes of handwriting. This lecture will show the main personality traits a graphologist looks for and will be illustrated by handwriting samples of the famous (including Her Majesty The Queen, Prince Charles, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Tony Blair, David Beckham and Geoffrey Boycott) and the infamous (including Harold Shipman, Nicholas van Hoogstraten and Saddam Hussain). There will also be a demonstration analysis of a well known sports personality.

For more information, visit David's website.

December 2008

Is Christmas in good taste ?

David Phillips

Hasn't Christmas gone downhill and got hopelessly vulgar? Wasn't there a time when it was a celebration of real values? In a light hearted survey, we review some wonderful and some gloriously awful historic and modern Christmas imagery to explore the extent to which that's true. It turns out that our traditional notions about Christmas are a much more recent invention than we might think, but no question, our modern variety is often in downright poor taste. But just what makes it so tacky?

David studied at Oxford and from 1968-1982 worked at the Nottingham Castle Museum. From 1982-1998 he was a lecturer in Museum Studies and Art History at The University of Manchester. He has written articles and books for publication and has extensive lecturing experience.
Summary of the lecture

In an amusing lecture, David Phillips gave a history of Christmas symbols which have unfortunately deteriorated into kitsch or worse. The audience was relieved to hear that southern Spain has escaped the flood of vulgar images prevalent in the UK and USA.

The traditional images include the Madonna and Child of Botticelli, the Manger Scene by Giotto and the Census at Bethlehem by Bruegel. The serious change in emphasis began in the 19th century with Charles Dickens' Christmas Books, the northern European Christmas tree and gifts shown in a series of family portraits over 35 years in the early 20th century, the sending of printed Christmas cards in lieu of personal Christmas letters, and Clement Moore's poem of 1823 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, adding reindeer and a rotund, red-clad St. Nicholas.

In 1931, the downhill slide began with the commercialization of Santa Claus by Coca Cola. Parts of Santa's costume have been worn by Jack Benny on a record cover, by a bevy of scantily clad girls and by a toy penguin. Clearly artistic good taste has been sacrificed to commercialism. Social good taste also has been violated by trivializing the emotionally charged, such as, an image of Christ on a motorbike. Fortunately, the pre-commercialization Christmas images are still very much in existence.

madame X

January 2009

John Singer Sargent: an American abroad

Lizzie Darbyshire

BA MA(Courtauld)

John Singer Sargent was born in Florence of American parents, trained in Paris and spent much of his life in Europe. In 1884 he shocked the world of French society when he exhibited his highly provocative portrait of Madame Gautreau (right) - yet, by the 1890s he had become the darling of the British aristocracy - a man who could produce dazzling images that seemed to capture the spirit of the age.

Did Sargent only paint portraits or were these but one expression of his precocious artistic talent? Join Lizzie as she delves into this complex artist and his unexpectedly varied work.

Lizzie studied for her Masters Degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has wide experience as a freelance lecturer in the History of Art, working with fine arts societies, arts festivals, art galleries and museums throughout the UK and abroad. She is involved with the Living Paints Trust in an editorial capacity.

For more information use the following links:
Boston Public Library
(see also the LINKS page)
Further reading:
Elaine Kilmurray and Richard Ormond (ed.), Sargent, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1998
Elizabeth Prettejohn, Interpreting Sargent, Tate Gallery, 1998

January 27th 2009 - extra lecture

Flamenco - traditional to modern

Mark Shurey

Mark is a local osteopath working in Nerja and Granada. He studied Flamenco Guitar for many years. There will also be gypsy dancer from the Sacromonte Caves. The lecture will be "Traditional to Modern. An introduction to the world of Modern Flamenco and the understanding between Guitar and Dancer."

The following photographs, taken on the night, give an impression of the event.
Click on a picture to see it enlarged.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 6

February 2009

The Queen Of Sheba - empress or enigma?

Christopher Bradley

B Eng (Hons) FRGS

She is one of the most intriguing and exotic figures in history. Wealthy from trading incense and lover of King Solomon, her story encapsulates the history of ancient Yemen, Ethiopia and the Ark of the Covenant itself.

Summary of the lecture

In a fascinating lecture, Christopher Bradley pursued the legend, indeed the myth, of the elusive Queen of Sheba. She exists in modern western lore largely due to a painting by Edward John Pointer in the 1880s of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon in his Jerusalem palace where she appears in silks and jewels, modestly bowing to the great King enthroned in all his splendour.

Although she has been represented in films and circuses, paintings and stained glass, and been written about in the Bible and the Koran, there is no real evidence that she ever existed.

Christopher Bradley hypothesized that her probable home was the south of Saudi Arabia, now Yemen, near Aden and close to Oman from which frankincense and myrrh came. Her Jerusalem visit would have been to negotiate the trading of incense, then a popular commodity.

With the domestication of the camel, incense caravans could travel across the Saudi Arabian desert to a series of incense towns with multistorey mud buildings near dry river beds with water available below ground.

Another possible origin of the ethereal Queen of Sheba is Ethiopia where at Aksum, the Ark of the Covenant was supposedly enshrined by the son of Solomon and Sheba.

Biographical details of the speaker

Christopher Bradley is an expert in the history and culture of the Middle East. As a professional tour guide and lecturer he has led groups throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He has written extensively on Arabia and is the author of The Discovery Guide to Yemen. As a photographer, he has pictures used by numerous quality newspapers and magazines. Christopher has a broad range of lecturing experience, including to the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of British Architects. As a film producer and cameraman, he has made documentaries for the BBC, National Geographic TV and Channel 4.
Christopher talked to us about the Magi in January 2007.

Background information:
Michael Wood (BBC)

Sheba on a horse
Ethiopian fresco depicting Queen of Sheba
Sheba meeting Solomon, relief
Solomon meeting Queen of Sheba
Renaissance relief, Florence

March 24th 2009 - extra lecture


Helen Sijsling

Barcelona poster
In society:

Wealth - Poverty - Violence

In art:

Superb Creativity
Modernista art

Barcelona 1900:

Paris of the South (centre of the avant guard), Manchester of Spain (centre of industry), Rose of Fire (centre of anarchists), City of Bombs (centre of terrorist attacks), Pearl of the Mediterranean (outstanding coastal location), Burned City (burning monasteries in Tragic Week)

A city of contrasting emotions

On Gaudi:
'a hideous building ... in bad taste that they did not bomb the Sagrada Familia (in the civil war)' (Orwell) 'culmination of creative architecture' (Sullivan)

The effervescent, fashionable character of modern Barcelona has its origins in the period around 1900, when music, architecture, painting, sculpture, and literature flourished as never before. Between 1880 and 1910 the city underwent an impressive transformation, with the Eixample, the revolutionary city development expansion by Ildefons Cerda, highly imaginative urban architecture by Antoni Gaudi, Lluis Domenech I Montaner and Josep Puig I Cadafalch, and elegant interiors in the modernista style, Barcelona's version of Art Nouveau. Its lively artistic climate was concentrated on the Sala Pares, where avant garde artitsts who had been inspired in Paris exhibited in the artists' refuge in Sitges and in the Els Quatre Gats café, where Picasso, Rusinol and their bohemian friends met. But this blossoming of art and culture went hand in hand with far-reaching industrialization and serious social and political tensions that culminated on 1909's Tragic Week.

Helen studied for her masters degree History of art at Leyden University. She is the Society's Travel co-ordinator and has organized the Nadfas trip to Barcelona. She will be giving a flavour of Barcelona in the last century as a precursor to the forthcoming 6-day trip to Barcelona and its environs in April.

April 2009


Douglas Skeggs


Monet was the driving force of Impressionism. Ambitious, determined and stubborn, he was gifted with an astonishing technical ability and a precision of observation that few artists have rivalled. Brought up on the Seine estuary he came into contact with Boudin and Jongkind, who inspired, and later, in Paris, he met Renoir, Sisley, Pissaro and Bazille and, later, Manet, who asked him to join his friends at the Café Guerbois. Monet created images of such light and beauty that it is easy to forget that they are also the substance of one of the greatest revolutions in the visual arts.

Douglas Skeggs
Douglas Skeggs read Fine Art at Magdalene College Cambridge and has been a lecturer on paintings since 1980. In that time he has given over 4000 lectures to universities, colleges and art societies. He was the director of 'The New Academy of Art Studies' for three years and is presently a regular lecturer at 'The Study Centre', Christie's course 'The History of Art Studies' and other London courses. Among his more improbable venues for lectures are the bar on the QE2, MI5 headquarters, the Captain's Room at Lloyds, and an aircraft hanger in a German NATO base. Overseas he has lectured in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain, and has taken numerous tours around Europe. He helped set up the Abercrombie & Kent "Private Label tours" and is presently cultural adviser to Ultimate Travel. He has written and presented various TV documentaries, notably the Omnibus programme on 'Whistler' and the exhibition video on 'William Morris.' Three one-man exhibitions of his paintings have been held in England and Switzerland. He has published five novels, which have been translated into 8 foreign languages, and his book on Monet, 'River of Light', has sold 30,000 copies in England, America and France.

Summary of the lecture

In a richly illustrated lecture, Douglas Skeggs knowledgeably discussed the life and works of Claude Monet (1840 - 1926), whose painting 'Impression - Sunrise' (1872) gave the name to the artistic movement of Impressionism. Its artists only suggested the subject matter, allowing the viewer to supply the rest.

As a teenager Monet was encouraged by Eugene Boudin to become a landscape painter 'in the open air'. This was a new idea as painters only sketched outdoors and completed a work in the studio after idealising the content. Monet claimed that his studio was the Seine, that he painted what he saw.

In Paris he frequently met and discussed painting with the artists of his generation: Pissarro, Bazille, Degas, Cezanne, Manet and especially Renoir and Sisley.

In 1870 he went to London to avoid being conscripted for the Franco-Prussian War. There he began his paintings of the Thames, Parliament, and Waterloo Bridge. After the war, he moved with his wife Camille to Argenteuil on the Seine where he painted riverscapes with boats of which he was fond.

Later he moved to Giverny where he spent more than forty fulfilling years. He first became rich and famous for his series of Poplar Trees, using his life-long love of colour and light. Other series done in varying colours and lights were: Haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, Garden with Japanese Bridge at Giverny, and his last series, large paintings of Waterlilies which he presented to the French nation.

May 2009

The Fine Art of Crime

Malcolm Kenwood

The media promote an image of suave and sophisticated gentlemen art thieves operating in heists with beautiful paintings, elegant locations and connotations of an exotic millionaire lifestyle. The reality is that the art thief is no aristocrat. Stealing fine Art and Antiques affords criminals with a high value commodity, often poorly protected, difficult (but thankfully not impossible) to identify, that can transcend national or international boundaries and reach those eager to deal with the discreditable and unsuspecting. Utilising fascinating actual case studies, the lecture examines the trail and repatriation of stolen art.

Summary of the lecture

In an interesting lecture, Malcolm Kenwood, a detective specialising in stolen art treasures, revealed some of the processes that art detectives use to track and retrieve stolen art. Unlike the media perception, art thieves are not James Bond type gentlemen who have a high lifestyle, but are unglamourous ordinary criminals in a lucrative business. Art thieves can hold a painting for ransom or exchange it for a shipment of drugs, often sending the work of art from country to country.

Both Interpol in France and the FBI in Washington, D.C. have extensive databases of stolen art works. Through those databases, a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 'The Temptation of Saint Anthony', was retrieved in a sting operation in Madrid in 2002 in a hotel where all the staff were temporarily replaced by police. They also obtained nine other stolen paintings from the car boot of the East European gang.

In the 1970s, a Cezanne 'Still Life' was stolen from a US millionaire by a man who worked in an art museum. The criminal was killed by a drug dealer, and the painting resurfaced after thirty years, the period when the statute of limitations had ended, cancelling the theft. When Lloyd's was asked to insure the painting, they called the police. After long negotiations, the painting was recovered and returned to the owner. The thief's lawyer, who had kept the painting, was imprisoned.

The identification of stolen items is essential to recovery of the work. The lecturer showed an example of a Regency table which had been stolen. Although most people do not photograph their valuables, there was a photograph of the table which could be compared to the photograph of another table in a catalogue of Christie's of London. Art historians regularly compare such catalogs with stolen art databases. The audience was asked to compare the two photographs. By looking at the wood grains, wear patterns and fading of colour on the top around a tray, a positive identification could be made. The audience was urged to concentrate on any imperfections when photographing their valuables, preferably out of doors with the camera's flash turned off, in order to help detectives should the item be stolen.