Programme 2018 – 2019

Lectures at the Melksham Assembly Hall,  SN12 6ES

Visitors welcome – Fee £7

Doors open 10.00 am   (coffee 10.15-10.50)
Lectures start at 11.00 am and finish at 12 noon


October 3rd 2018

Fine Art Forgery: Craftsmanship or Conjuring Trick?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the forgers know it can be put there as much by hope and expectation as by the object before the buyer. We meet a cast of colourful characters, including the celebrity fakers, Hans van Meegeren, “Professor” Drewe and his collaborator, John Myatt, plus the Greenhalgh family of Bolton, who found themselves in court in 2008.  They are only the latest in a long tradition, and we end with the mysterious, never identified Spanish Forger.

Lecturer:  David Phillips studied History at Oxford, and from 1968-82 worked for Nottingham Castle Museum.  

November 7th 2018

From Peasants to Czars: A Portrait of Russian Society in the 19th Century

Achieving record prices in the auction rooms, Russian art is currently hot. For almost a century, magnificent works by great nineteenth century masters such as Repin and Levitan have been gathering dust, works which told the story of Russia in all her moods and majesty. From primitive peasants to mighty Czars, majestic forests and gigantic skies, this lecture shows how these artists managed to distil the very essence of both the landscape and the soul of this vast,enigmatic country.

Lecturer: Brian Healey has been a senior modern languages teacher in an independent grammar school for many years and has also enjoyed a successful parallel career since the 1980s as a professional artist and interior designer. Since 2006 he has been regularly appointed to a number of prestigious ocean and river cruise lines, either as resident artist, guest lecturer on art history or as a destination speaker for more then forty countries. Most recently, this art has successfully extended to art guiding through important towns and museums in France, Belgium, Holland and Spain.

December 5th 2018

‘Singe we Yule’: A Musical Portrait of a Medieval Christmas

Using illustrations from illuminated manuscripts, readings from literature and contemporary accounts, and the haunting songs, carols and lively dance tunes, Sarah brings alive the spirit of a medieval Christmas – a time of joy and celebration for some, but hardship and suffering for others. With extracts from literature and manorial household accounts, she pieces together life in a medieval manor house at Yuletide. In addition to her reproduction medieval harps, she adds plucked psaltery, hurdy-gurdy, hammered dulcimer and gemshorn to the musical mix, performing carols, music and readings for an atmospheric musical and seasonal celebration.

Lecturer: SaPrah Deere-Jones is a graduate and prize-winner from the Royal Academy of Music and, in 2015, was elected an Associate. She performs, writes and lectures about the harp regularly in America, Australia, Europe and UK.

January 9th 2019

Painting the Modern Garden – from Monet to Matisse

The magnificent Royal Academy exhibition of 2016 opened the public’ eyes to the extent to which artists loved to cultivate their own gardens and how they were in turn inspired by them to create experimental work.  We will trace the parallel developments in the history of modern art from the Impressionism of Monet, Renoir, Pissaro and Morrisot in the late 19th century, to the near abstractions of Matisse and Kandinsky in the 20th.

Lecturer: Lydia Bauman was born in Poland and studied for her BA in Fine Art at University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (John Christie Scholarship and the Hatton Award) and an MA in History of Art from Courtauld Institute, London (19th-20th century art – Distinction for thesis on Matisse’s Illustrations to Poetry). Lydia has lectured to diverse adult audiences, notably in London’s National Gallery and MFA Boston USA.

February 6th 1019

Hidden Canvases – Street Art & The City

There’s more to the world of street art than Banksy. Hidden Canvases is a beginner’s guide to the biggest art movement since pop art. From train writing in New York to interactive technology that brings murals to life, the concept of un-commissioned public art is a very different beast to that which it once was. Hidden Canvases explores the key stages in street art’s growth examining the different elements and styles that comprise the scene with no rules. From the international superstars to the local underground heroes you’re guaranteed to leave knowing your Invader from your Aryz and, who knows, you might even start looking at the world a little differently.

Lecturer: Doug Gillen is heavily involved in documenting the street art scene in London and abroad through his project Fifth Wall TV, and offers a genuine insight into this world. Previously, Doug lectured for London Art and More, and, when not filming, he is an East End tour guide for Alternative London, specialising in culture and art.

March 6th 2019


The Fighting Temeraire: Facts and Fiction behind Britain’s Most Popular Painting

Lecturer: James Taylor

April 3rd 2019

A Child of Six Could Do It! Cartoonists’ Views of Modern Art

Modern art is often considered difficult, but it is much less so when seen through the eyes of some of the greatest cartoonists of the last one hundred and fifty years, who provide a humorous and sceptical but instructive guide to modern art from Courbet to the Britart of the 1990s. A chance to enjoy the insights and cartoons of (among others) Daumier, Larry, Thelwell, Matt, the wise guys at the New Yorker magazine and, of course, the immortal Giles. Collectively, they provide an absorbing, illuminating and, above all, a funny, revealing and sidelong view of 150 years of modern art.

Lecturer: Barry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely. He was the BBC’s script consultant on Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in s BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution. He has also published a study of John Constable’s paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British Art.

May 1st 2019

A Decorative Art: The History of Wallpapers

Wallpaper is often regarded as the Cinderella of the Decorative Arts – the most ephemeral and least precious of the decorations produced for the home. Yet, the history of wallpaper is a long and fascinating subject that dates back to the 16th century and encompasses a huge range of beautiful patterns created both by anonymous hands and by some of the best known designers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Lecturer: Joanna 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

June 5th 2019

Under The Open Sky – , Newlyn, Falmouth and Lamorna Artists from 1880-1940

Copyright National Museum of Wales/Amgueddfa Cymru / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This lecture gives an overview of art in Cornwall from the late 19th century to the start of the Second World War that was created in and around the remote villages of Newlyn and Lamorna in West Penrith. Beginning with artists such as Walter Langley and Frank Bramley, moving on to Stanhope Forbes, Henry Scott Turke and Charles Napier Hemy through to Thomas Cooper Gotch and many others.

Lecturer: Catherine Wallace studied Fine Art at Leeds and Canterbury before completing a Master’s degree in Art History and Museum studies at St Andrew’s University. Having focused her studies on Wyndham Lewis, she researched and organised a major loan exhibition on this important British artist at London’s Imperial War Museum in 1992. She was responsible for Falmouth art gallery for eight years curating both contemporary and historic art exhibitions.

July 3rd 2019

A Photographic Odyssey: Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition On Camera

On Ernest Shackleton’s third Antarctic expedition in 1914, his ship, the Endurance, was trapped and eventually crushed in the pack ice. After camping for five months on the ice, Shackleton’s men rowed to the remote Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton sailed for help to South Georgia over 800 miles away. Over three months later he returned to rescue the crew of the Endurance. Frank Hurley, one of the great photographers of the 20th century, was the expeditions’s official photographer. His photographs are a visual narrative of an epic journey which capture with great artistry new and amazing landscapes within which a remarkable human drama is played out. The aim of the lecture is to capture Hurley’s achievements as a photographer of the Antarctic in the first flush of human contact when it was still essentially terra incognita.

Lecturer: Mark Castle was born on the Isles of Scilly and educated at Truro School and Birmingham University. His career has been spent in education and training at home and abroad. He has lectured at Exeter College on Medieval and Tudor history, St Mark’s & St John’s University College, Plymouth and at Bath University on Anglo-Saxon and Medieval England.

(The AGM will be held at 10.45 prior to the July lecture)