Saturday 20th July 2024 (CEST)

2010-11 season's lectures

October 2010

Guernica, the icon of the 20th century

Gijs Van Hensbergen

Gijs van Hensbergen read languages at Utrecht and art history at the Courtauld Institute, followed by postgraduate studies in American art of the 1960s.
He is an art historian and author specialising in Spain and the USA. Books include Gaudí, In the Kitchens of Castile and Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon. He has published widely in the Burlington Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, appeared on BBC Radio 4, the Discovery Channel and TV España and worked in England, the USA and Spain as an exhibitions organiser.
Guernica. A scream we can't ignore. Nearly 70 years on, the military men are still censoring Guernica. Gijs tells the story of the Picasso that became an icon.

Reading: Guernica, the Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon (2004).

The book is published by Bloomsbury. The following was taken from their website:
" The story of a painting born of violence and war that became an international symbol of reconciliation Of all the great paintings in the world, Guernica has had a more direct impact on our consciousness than perhaps any other. In his new book the acclaimed biographer of Gaudí brings his knowledge and insight to bear on this key cultural icon.
thumbnail He tells the painting's story from its beginnings in the violence of the Spanish Civil War when Nazi Germany's 'Condor Legion' bombed the Basque town of Gernika (sic) in what would become a trial run for the Blitzkriegs of the Second World War, through its time as a weapon in the propaganda battle against Fascism and the years when it became the nucleus of the nascent Museum of Modern Art in New York, to its role as a symbol of reconciliation when it returned to Spain after the death of Franco and the re-establishment of democracy in that country. It is an epic story and one to which Gijs van Hensbergen has done full justice.
'This history of a painting - how it was made, what it meant and what happened to it - is an astonishing achievement, a cornucopia of startlingly original insights. Elegantly and passionately, Gijs van Hensbergen recreates the story of Picasso and his denunciation of war through a series of kaleidoscopically overlapping contexts. With a daunting, but lightly-worn, range of reference, he weaves together Picasso's personal life, the Spanish Republican exile, Franco's Spain, wartime Paris, blue-rinse New York, to illuminate the journey from the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937 to the canvas's final arrival at Madrid's Reina Sofia gallery in 1992. Compelling reading.' Paul Preston, author of Franco and The Spanish Civil War. "

October 2010 - extra lecture

To be Conquered and to Conquer:

Treasures of Roman and Spanish Conquerors in Southern Spain

An adventure in Extremadura: Sevilla, Jerez de los Caballeros, Medillin, Trujillo and 3 world heritage sites: Cáceres, Guadalupe, Mérida

Helen Sijsling


The harsh environment of Extremadura was where the Roman conquerors built Augusta Emerita, the capital of Lusitania as a home for retired legionaires: Mérida, the most completely-preserved Roman city in Spain.

This same harsh environment was the cradle of the conquistadores, a parched landscape, a cruel country that bred cruel people, men who opened up a new world for the Spanish empire. Remote before and forgotten since it enjoyed a brief golden age when its heroes returned with their gold to live in a flourish of splendour. Trujillo and Cáceres both preserve entire towns built with conquistador wealth, the streets crowded with the ornate mansions of returning empire builders. The monastery of Guadalupe is fabulously wealthy with the spoils of the Conquistadores.
Mrb Mérida: the longest Roman bridge still in existence
M - aM Mérida: acueducto de los Milagros
Mt Mérida: Roman theatre

November 2010

Glass and Royal Connections

Charles Hajdamach

Fascinating array of items made and used by Royalty through the ages. Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Caesars, European Crown Heads and British Kings and Queens, Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Charles Hajdamach is a Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology and Chairman of the Glass Association. The following information is taken from his website

Charles Hajdamach is one of the top authorities on glass in the country. He has lectured in America, Canada, South Africa and Ireland and has written extensively on the subject from antique to contemporary studio glass. Broadfield House.

For 23 years he was the Director of Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford, which he established in 1980, and which quickly became one of the top glass museums in the world. During that time he increased the collections to over 17,000 pieces. In 2000 he commissioned twelve of the country's top glass artists to create unique pieces for the Dudley Millennium Commission.

In 1991 he published 'British Glass 1800-1914' which remains the standard work on the subject. In 2000 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology. In 2003 he took early retirement to concentrate on his lecturing and writing.

His second book, '20th Century British Glass' was recently published by Antique Collectors' Club; the following account was taken from the Club's website:
"Comprehensive is an understatement" Liverpool Daily Post. This is the most comprehensive book yet published on twentieth century British glass with hitherto unpublished catalogues, contemporary photographs and hundred of objects grouped to assist collectors with identification. The majority of the items, from private and public collections, are illustrated for the first time. The book covers everything from Art Nouveau and Art Deco masterpieces to the now much ignored Pyrex ovenware and everything in between from engraving, cameo glass and paperweights. Chapters focus on the effects of the two world wars, special features look at individual designers including Keith Murray, while major exhibitions including the Festival of Britain in 1951 are fully discussed. Biographical sections look at post-war designers including Geoffrey Baxter, Ronald Stennett-Willson and Frank Thrower.

Lecture: December 2010

Skin Deep - the beastly art of beauty, reality and ridicule.

Amanda Herries

MA (Cantab)

Do you ever look at the society portraits of the 18th and early 19th centuries and consider the reality of the young and fashion-conscious sitter with rouged cheeks, whitened complexions and the latest hair styles, powdered into un-natural grey? Were they the victims of fashionable excess? Did the followers of style deserve the marvellously humorous, ridiculous but savage caricatures by Cruickshank, Gillray and others in the 18th century?
Illustrated with entertaining - and merciless - contemporary caricatures of the absurdities and extremes of high fashion you'll find the grim answer in this revealing examination of a highly colourful period in English decorative and social history.

picture The song 'Yankee Doodle' mentions a man who "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni," the joke being that the Yankees were naive enough to believe that a feather in the hat was a sufficient mark of a macaroni. Whether or not these were alternative lyrics sung in the British army, they were enthusiastically taken up by the Yankees themselves.
thumbnail  thumbnail
From the 18th century 'Macaronis' with hair piled high, waists nipped in and plenty of rouge (most of them were men) to the 19th century Dandies and Dandizettes who padded their bodies wherever necessary (shoulders, bosom, waist, hips, calves), these were the 'fashionistas' of their day, often falling victim to the poisons they plastered on their faces and in their hair.

We thought Botox and implants were ridiculous? Dangerous? Something new?

January 2011

From Egg to Bacon - English Painting 1850-1950

Linda Smith

BA(Hons) MA

This talk gives an account of developments in English painting (and the occasional sculpture) from the days of the pre Raphaelites to the aftermath of World War Two. This was a particularly fertile period in the history of Art, and the talk pays attention to the way in which developments in Paris were received by the London Art world, and how British Artists contributed to the exciting exchange of new ideas.

Victorian artists like Augustus Egg, a friend of Charles Dickens, created popular works with a high moral tone. The Pre-Raphaelites challenged the status quo with vivid colours and complex decoration. They initiated a fertile era in English art, at the end of which Francis Bacon erupted onto the scene.

Linda Smith is an art historian, guide and lecturer at London's Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

web links:

Augustus Leopold Egg (1816-1863):

He aspired to be a Hogarthian painter - moralising, humorous, popular. Along with Richard Dadd (of The Fairy Feller 's Masterstroke fame - see below), he was a member of the artists' group called "The Clique". He was also part of the literary circle of Dickens and Wilkie Collins. He admired the younger Pre-Raphaelites. He engaged in charity work and amateur theatricals. He travelled to southern Europe for his poor health.
His most famous work is in Tate Britain, Past and Present, a narrative triptych about adultery and its tragic consequences: (click on an image to see it enlarged).
thumbnailPast and Present, No. 1 1858
This is the first scene in a triptych, or series of three paintings, on the consequences of adultery. A woman lies at her husband's feet. He holds a letter, evidence of her unfaithfulness, and stamps on a portrait miniature of her lover. On the left, the girls' house of cards collapses, signifying the breakdown of the family. The cards were supported by a novel by the French writer Balzac, famous for his tales of adultery. And an apple has been cut in two. One half, representing the wife, has fallen to the floor. The other, representing the husband, has been stabbed to the core.
thumbnail Past and Present, No. 2 1858
When this triptych was first exhibited the drawing-room scene was hung between this painting and the final scene. The writer John Ruskin wrote: 'the husband discovers his wife's infidelity; he dies five years afterwards. The two lateral pictures represent the same moment of night a fortnight after his death. The same little cloud is under the moon. The two children see it from the chamber in which they are praying for their lost mother, and their mother, from behind a boat under the vault of the river shore.' Ruskin's comments show that audiences were expected to 'read' pictures like novels.
thumbnail Past and Present, No. 3 1858
The final scene in this series of three paintings is set under the Adelphi arches, by the River Thames. The Art Journal described them as 'the lowest of all the profound deeps of human abandonment in this metropolis'. The woman shelters a young child, the result of her affair. The posters behind her advertise two plays - Victims and The Cure for Love - and 'Pleasure excursions to Paris'. These are ironic comments on her situation. This is a social moralist series of paintings but it is left to the viewer to decide whether the woman is to be pitied or condemned.

more Egg:   wikipedia     wikimedia     Tate

Richard Dadd (1817 - 1886):

thumbnail The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke

Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898):

L-R: Excalibur in the Lake, Venus


Paul Nash (1889 - 1946):

thumbnailTotes Meer

Wikipedia     Tate

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924 - 2005):

thumbnail Wikipedia

James Whistler (1834 - 1903):

thumbnail Cremorne Lights


James Tissot (1836 - 1902):

L-R: The Ball, The-Gallery-of-H.M.S.-'Calcutta'-(Portsmouth), In the Sunshine, October 1877

virtual gallery

Sir John Millais (1829 - 1896):

thumbnail Ophelia

PreRaphelite Brotherhood

Wyndham Lewis (1882 - 1957):


David Bomberg (1890 - 1957):

David Bomberg is the subject of a lecture in January 2012. Click here to go the lecture page.

Stanley Spencer (1891 - 1959):

thumbnailSwan Upping at Cookham
about the museum

Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992):

thumbnail triptych 1944

Tate     Tate interactive tour
Web Museum, Paris

January 2011 - extra lecture

The Hidden Treasures of the Nerja caves

Jose Manuel Cabezas with colleagues from The Fundacion Cuevas de Nerja

A study of the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the caves from the archeological, historical, biological and geological viewpoint.

February 2011

Revolting Artists, can Art change the world?

Lynne Gibson


The Vatican, Monarchy and State have all manipulated Art to proclaim their power and convince others of their truths. We might well call it 'spin' nowadays.

However, images can be ambiguous and artists notoriously difficult to control! Dissenters have fought back and played the authorities at their own game; often risking their careers, freedom, even their lives, to make counter-propaganda.

In Modern times Art has become increasingly a voice of dissent inspired by Marxism and, more recently, by broader cultural, environmental and identity issues.

This lecture will explore radical artworks and ask: did they have the desired effect? Can Art really change the world?

About Lynne Gibson
The following information has been taken from Lynne's website.

Lynne Gibson is a fully qualified teacher and highly experienced lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies in Art, as well as practical Drawing, Painting and Printmaking.

She has lectured for the University of Sussex and the University of Bristol, where she also taught several summer schools. Other teaching includes Bath and Stroud colleges of Art, and ARCA colleges Dillington House and Farncombe Estate.

She also gives lectures, talks and tours for organizations such as the National Trust, National Galleries and Museums, and various art societies. She now works freelance as a lecturer and consultant.

Lynne's Bachelor degree is in Fine Art and Education, 1980, and Masters in Language, The Arts and Education, 1991, both Sussex University. She also holds a certificate with distinction in Printmaking from Brighton University. She was involved in pioneering Critical Studies teaching in East Sussex Schools, training teachers and post graduate students. She has introduced the subject to Sussex University and into adult education provision organized by the University of Bristol. Having both a practical and academic background Lynne's enthusiasm is for helping art lovers to enrich their viewing by understanding how and why art works were made, and by using a simple strategy for interpretation. She tackles areas such as technique and use of materials, types of subject matter, as well as more philosophical and contextual issues, which can complement conventional art history studies.

Lynne is also an exhibiting Painter and Etcher, with work in many private collections, and publications including the TES, Resurgence and book jackets for Falmer Press.

March 2011

Ancient Greece, Mycenae 'Rich in Gold'

George Hart

map from Google Earth.
Mycenaean culture is the source of ancient epics and legends such as the dynasty of Atreids, the labours of Hercules, the Trojan war, the Thyestian Feast, and Agamemnon's tragic life and death. The surrounding area of Argolis was dominated by many different citadels similar to Myceneae, and during the Bronze Age they took advantage of the geopoliticaly important location to accumulate considerable wealth and power.

Homer, in the Iliad, described the Mycenaean kingdom of Agamemnon as being 'Rich in Gold'. Mycenae is the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Its name was given to one of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory, the Mycenaean civilization, while the myths related to its history have inspired poets and writers over many centuries, from the Homeric epics and the great tragedies of the Classical period to contemporary literary and artistic creation.

The ancient city of Mycenae was once thought to exist only in ancient Greek legend and the epic poetry of Homer. It wasn't until 1870 that an amateur archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann found the fabled city. Many people doubted that he would find such a city, but using only landmarks from the text of Homer's Iliad, Schliemann uncovered the remains of a once thriving civilization.

The city of Mycenae was the centre of a large and powerful Mycenaean Greek civilization, which existed from circa 1900 BC to circa 1125 BC. The Mycenaean civilization was at its height between 1400 and 1200 BC. It is believed that the entire civilization consisted of a few loosely joined city-states. Possible members of the city-states were Tiryns, Pylos, Thebes, Orchomenos, and of course Mycenae, which was the strongest.

The Mycenaean people were known to be warriors who lived for heroic battles. A monarch, who was supported by strong military leaders, ruled the Mycenaeans. Other people who held a high rank in society were the priests and bureaucrats. They kept precise records of inventory, distribution of materials for production, commodities produced, acquirement of land, and deliveries made. There were also lower members of society who were not nearly as important. They consisted of soldiers, peasants, artisans, serfs, and even slaves.

thumbnailMycenaean traders had an extensive trade network with neighboring civilizations. There is very little written record of the distance over which these people traded, but a rough estimate can be given from the location of Mycenaean pottery throughout the Mediterranean. Mycenaean pottery has been found in southern Italy and as far away as Egypt. There is also evidence of foreign trade coming from imported goods found at Mycenae. Ivory carvings and an abundance of gold ornaments have been found. The ivory had to be imported, but some of the gold could have been mined locally. These mines were very small, with low yields, so researchers believe that much of the gold must have been imported.

There are many imported and domestic artifacts found in Mycenae. Most artifacts have been found in shaft graves, many of them excavated by Schliemann and his crew. One of the most famous and one of the first artifacts to be found is the so-called death mask of Agamemnon. It is a thin gold mask which was buried with the ancient king. Legend says that Agamemnon is the Mycenaean Greek king who led his troops into battle against Troy, which eventually was sacked. When Schliemann found the mask, he wrote to the king of Greece, "Today I have looked on the face of Agamemnon."

Schliemann also found carved stones, an assortment of cups, jewellery, pottery, and numerous bronze weapons. Mycenae is also known for its ancient builders. thumbnail lion gate The Lion Gate is a main entrance into the citadel at Mycenae. It is a solid stone carving of two lions which stand as sentries directly over the entrance. This gate is part of the outer wall of the citadel. These walls have an average thickness of 5m. Outside the gate, four roads lead away into the countryside. Traces of these massive roads can still be seen today. Another great structure found in Mycenae is the Treasury of Atreus. This treasury is actually a self-supporting domed tomb measuring 5.40m high and 5.20m in diameter. This kind of architecture is proof of the technological skills of the Mycenaeans at the height of their empire.

By 1200 BC, the Mycenaean era was in a state of hardship. No one knows what caused such a powerful civilization to decline, but many theories are in place. Maybe it was some sort of earthquake that caused chaos in society. It may have been a change in weather patterns that caused a food shortage. Or, as many believe, it was invaders from the north who sacked Mycenae. This theory is the most supported due to evidence of fire damage to nearly all the buildings being excavated. Maybe it was a combination of all these theories.

In any case, by 1125 BC, Mycenae was abandoned and forgotten. It stayed this way for thousands of years, until an amateur archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann followed the story of an ancient epic and discovered the remains of Mycenae.

March 2011 - extra lecture

Federico Garcia Lorca - his Life, Times and Literary Legacy

Roberta Kettel

Roberta Kettel is well-known to the Society, having been its chairman from 2002 until 2006. As travel co-ordinator, she arranged more than 25 trips from 1996-2007. In 2004 she gave us a talk entitled "The World Heritage Cities and Sites of Spain".
Lorca thumbnail

A description of the life and works of the most well-known Spanish poet and dramatist of the 20th century - an iconic figure personifying the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War.

His life is seen against the background of Spanish history at that time from the 1898 Spanish American War (the year of his birth) through the Primo de Riviera dictatorship and the Second Republic to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 (the year of his execution).

The themes of his works - he wrote 11 books of poems and 9 plays - will be discussed, and there will be readings of a selection of his poems in Spanish and English, as well as a look at the importance of the three Spanish cities in his life: Granada, Madrid and Barcelona, and his close friendship with Salvador Dali.

The poems in Spanish will be read by Jose Manuel Cabezas, head of the English department at the Nerja High School, a Fullbright scholar with excellent English, who has given two lectures for Nadfas on the flora and fauna of the Nerja countryside.

April 2011

Sacred Art of Tibet

Zara Fleming

Zara Fleming is an art historian specialising in Tibetan and Himalayan history, art and culture. picture of Zara FlemingShe has travelled extensively in the region and has been leading tours there since 1981. From 2004 to 2008, she led several very successful visits to the Himalayas for Oxford University Alumni, Cambridge University and Asia House of London. She is also the Vice-President of the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund of the UK.
This lecture explores the wealth of this sacred artistic tradition, and explains how the paintings and scuptures are created, and how they are used as visual aids for meditation, in order to guide the practitioner on his or her path towards enlightenment.

May 2011

Santiago Calatrava, Valencian Spanish Architect

Clyde Binfield

Clyde Binfield is a Man of Kent who spent 6 years in Cambridge and has lived in Sheffield since 1964. He taught in Cambridge University's History Department where he became Head of the Department and recently retired with the title Professor Emeritus.

This lecture explores Calatrava's works. It takes us from Switzerland through Europe to the Canary Islands and Canada, but it begins in Valencia where he was born, educated, and began his training. Valencia is one of those surprising cities, a complement to Barcelona and which, like Barcelona, has rediscovered its history and its youth in the past twenty years. There you will find a bridge, an opera house, and museums - a veritable city of arts and sciences by him.
Is Calatrava to Valencia what Gaudí is to Barcelona? He might like us to think so.

The following description has been taken from wikipedia.

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born July 28, 1951) is an internationally recognized and award-winning Valencian Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zurich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zurich, Paris and Valencia.

Calatrava was born in Benimámet, an old municipality now integrated as an urban part of Valencia, Spain, where he pursued undergraduate studies at the Architecture School and Arts and Crafts School. Following graduation in 1975, he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland for graduate work in civil engineering. In 1981, after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice.

 thumbnail  torso  thumbnail

Calatrava's early career was dedicated largely to bridges and train stations, the designs for which elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights. His elegant and daring Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona (far left), Spain (1991) in the heart of the 1992 Olympic site was a turning point in his career, leading to a wide range of commissions. The Quadracci Pavilion (2001) of the Milwaukee Art Museum (centre)was his first US building. Calatrava's entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54 storey high twisting tower, called Turning Torso (2005) (right, above), located in Malmö, Sweden.

Calatrava is currently designing the future train station - World Trade Center Transportation Hub - at Ground Zero in New York City.

Calatrava's style has been heralded as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. In this, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering that includes Félix Candela and Antonio Gaudí. Nonetheless, his style is very personal and derives from numerous studies he makes of the human body and the natural world.

hemispheric thumbnail hemispheric, Valencia bodega Ysios bodega Ysios

Calatrava is also a prolific sculptor and painter, claiming that the practice of architecture combines all the arts into one. In 2003, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held an exhibition of his artistic work, entitled "Santiago Calatrava: Sculpture Into Architecture." Exhibitions of his work have also taken place in Germany, England, Spain, Italy and elsewhere.

Calatrava has received numerous recognitions. In 1990 he received the "Médaille d'Argent de la Recherche et de la Technique", Paris. In 1992 he received the prestigious Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers. In 1993, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a major exhibition of his work called "Structure and Expression". In 1998 he was elected to become a member of "Les Arts et Lettres," in Paris. In 2004, he received the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

In 2005, Calatrava was awarded the Eugene McDermott Award by the Council for the Arts of MIT. The Award is among the most esteemed arts awards in the US.

Wikipedia     MMA exhibition 2003     City Review 2006     ceramics & watercolours     Official website