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Talks 2023

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Talks 2024 Programme 
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The Arts Society Woking Talks Programme 2023

All Speakers are carefully chosen based on their reputation for attractive and well-presented talks with good pictures.
Our talks are held on the second Tuesday of the month except July and August (when many members are on vacation).
They start promptly at 10.30 am but doors open 9.45 am for tea and coffee
Our new venue is Normandy Village Hall.
Address: Manor Fruit Farm, Glaziers Lane, Normandy, Guildford Surrey GU3 2DT
Members may bring a visitor, but the same person may not be a guest more than twice a year. While we do not charge a Visitors fee, Visitors may want to make a donation to the Society of (say) £5.

For more information please click on the title for any talk
Date Speaker Title
Jan 10th Mark Hill Selfies, Self-expression Celebrity and Victorian Carte
Feb 14th Nigel Bates Sadlers Wells
March 14th Ian Swankie Secrets of affluent Mayfair
April 11th Frank Woodgate Turner Prize explained
May 9th Cynthia Sparke Ukraine, Ilya Repin and the End of Empire
June 13th Toby Faber Indians, Buffalo and Storms
Sept 12th Joanna Mabbutt Gilded Glories. The Fascinating history of Gilding
Oct 10th Kathy McLauchen Realism to Symbolism Images of Darkness and Light
Nov 14th Peter Medhurst Robed in Dreadful Majesty Music, Poetry and Traditions of the Advent Season
Dec 12th Roger Askew A Right Royal Christmas How our Royals have celebrated Christmas through the Ages
Tuesday January 10th 2023

Talk: Selfies, Self-Expression Celebrity, and Victorian Carte

From the late 1850s to the mid-1870s a new craze gripped the world. Photography had just begun to be popularised, and suddenly nearly everyone could afford a portrait of themselves to share with others.

These small photographic portraits mounted on card were shot professionally in studios and handed out like business or greetings cards – just like we share ‘selfies’ on today’s social media. Across nearly two decades, over 400 million cards were estimated to have been printed and shared with friends, family, and fans. We think we invented the ‘selfie’, but we didn’t – welcome to the Victorian carte de visite.

In this highly visual and relevant lecture, we’ll look at the rise and fall of the fashi on, learn how these cards were used, and find ways of dating cards from clothing and hairstyles. We’ll examine in detail the hidden meanings behind the poses, facial expressions, backgrounds, and choice of clothes to reveal the fascinating histories behind these cards that were used by everyone from royalty to the man in the street.
Woking Arts Society Talk -Selfies Self-Expression Celebrity Victorian Carte
Victorian Cartes (left to right): Charles Dickens, Ella Wesner (male impersonator), Tennyson
Speaker: Mark Hill
Mark is a well-known figure being a “Miscellaneous” expert on the Antiques Roadshow since 2007 and has co-presented three primetime factual TV series on antiques. He Has lectured across the world.

He: studied The History of Art & Architecture (BA Hons); began his career as a porter and Junior Cataloguer at Bonhams, before moving to Sotheby's where he was a Specialist in the Collectors' Department; became director of an internet company forming and running a ground-breaking deal with eBay Live Auctions; was co-author of the internationally published Collectables Price Guide with Judith Miller from 2002-17;
founded his own publishing company in 2005 and has since published over 12 books on specialist subjects in 20th century design and decorative arts.

Tuesday February 14th 2023

Talk: Sadlers Wells

For more than three centuries Sadler's Wells has been a place of entertainment and a part of London's theatrical history with a reputation known across the world. Surviving many highs, lows and rebuilding, the theatre has hosted and nurtured an impressive array of performing companies over the years. We follow the unique story of “The Wells” which includes pony racing, naval warfare, Shakespeare with Sir John Gielgud as well as the strongest connections with the worlds of opera and dance and the roots of today's Royal Ballet companies. A fully illustrated talk with audio & video clips.
Sadlers Wells Talk - Woking Arts Society Surrey

Speaker: Nigel Bates
Nigel Bates has been a performer for more than forty years in and out of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, including seventeen years as Principal Percussionist with the Orchestra and eight years as the Music Administrator of The Royal Ballet.

He has worked with many of the leading figures in the classical music industry and was also a producer for both the BBC's Maestro at the Opera and Pappano's Classical Voices documentary series. He is a regular contributor to the printed and online content of the ROH.

He has given lectures for over thirty years, including many arts societies and conservatoires in the UK and across Australia.

Tuesday March 14th 2023

Talk: Secrets of affluent Mayfair

Just north of Piccadilly, in the city of Westminster, is the historic district of Mayfair, now one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the world. In this armchair tour, we’ll discover the humble early roots of this area and later its aristocratic appeal. We’ll visit famous gardens such as Berkeley Square and Grosvenor Square, see posh shops, private members’ clubs, beautiful buildings including stately Georgian townhouses, plenty of public art and many hidden corners. As we duck in and out of alleyways and mews, we’ll discover some of the secrets behind the silk curtains and gilded shutters
Secrets of affluent Mayfair talk - Woking Arts Society Surrey 
Apartments in the heart of Mayfair
Speaker: Ian Swankie
Ian is a Londoner with a passion for art and architecture. He is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and gives tours around each venue. Ian is also a qualified and active freelance London guide and leads regular tours for various corporations and organisations. Since 2012 he has led a popular weekly independent art lecture group in his hometown of Richmond in West London. He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, one of the City livery companies

Tuesday April 11th 2023

Talk: Turner Prize Explained

Regarded by many as a great showcase for British avant-garde art, and by others as conceptualist rubbish, the Turner Prize established in 1984 causes controversy every year. The exhibitions each autumn continue to draw larger and larger crowds. Many of its nominees have become household names and extremely popular amongst the general public. Antony Gormley (creator of The Angel of the North) won it in 1994, while the widely admired Lucian Freud considered a modern old master failed to do so twice. This lecture looks at the great winners (and losers) from the past and clarifies the ideas behind the annual competition.
Turner Prize Explained - Woking Arts Society Surrey Talk 
2017 Turner Prize Winner
Speaker: Frank Woodgate
Frank is a Lecturer at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, lecturer for the Art Fund, the National Trust, U3A and other organisations. Lecturer and runs courses at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

Frank and his wife, Val, have both delivered a number of excellent talks to The Arts Society Woking

Tuesday May 9th 2023

Talk: Ukraine, Ilya Repin, and the End

Ukrainian born Repin (1844-1930) trained at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg but broke early on with its foreign inspired classicism to form a new realist school that would reflect the life of ordinary Russians. He was close to the famous personalities of his era, from Leo Tolstoy to Modest Mussorgsky, joining them in a quest to capture the soul of ‘Mother Russia’. His influence rippled across to craftspeople experimenting with the Arts and Crafts, leaving an imprint on the fine and applied arts that followed. Because Repin made it his mission to portray the social and political changes of a country in turmoil, his surviving work forms an invaluable testament to the empire’s final years.
Woking Arts Society Talk at Normandy Guildford - Ilya Repin 
Painted by Ilya Repin
Speaker: Cynthia Coleman Sparke
Cynthia is an independent researcher, author and lecturer on Russian pre-Revolutionary works of art, consulting regularly on Fabergé for auction houses. Having periodically grown up on and off in Moscow within a family of Russian art collectors, she was destined for a career in Russian art. Previously, Cynthia ran the Russian Department for Christie’s in New York and worked for Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington DC. This was followed by a restoration project at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, Nicholas II’s last residence. Her book Russian Decorative Arts was published in 2014 by the Antique Collectors’ Club.

Tuesday June 13th 2023

Talk: Indians, Buffalo and Storms. The American West in 19th Century Art

Artists were never far behind the explorers who opened up the west of America in the 19th Century. Sometimes they painted what they saw. Sometimes they painted what they wished they saw. Either way, painters like Alfred Miller, Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt have left us a powerful, if romanticised, record of the country and people that the settlers found. Now we can use their pictures to chart the history of the opening of America’s west - the arrival of the railroad, the confinement of native Americans into reservations, and the extermination of the buffalo.

This is a story on a big scale and it seems appropriate that among the pictures illustrating the lecture are some of the largest and most grandiloquent paintings of the era. After a period of deep neglect, they are now very much back in vogue, but whatever one thinks of their artistic merits, I hope audiences will agree with me that they are, above all, great fun.
 The American West in 19th Century Art 
Warpath” By Alfred Miller
Speaker: Toby Faber
Toby is an experienced lecturer and public speaker who has been accredited by The Arts Society since 2012. His career began with Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has been through investment banking, management consulting and five years as managing director of the publishing company founded by his grandfather, Faber and Faber, where he remains on the board. He is also non-executive Chairman of its sister company, Faber Music and a director of Liverpool University Press.

Toby has written three narrative histories: Stradivarius – Five Violins, One Cello and a Genius; Faberge’s Eggs; and Faber & Faber – The Untold Story, as well as a novel, Close to the Edge. Of these, only the obvious one is published by the family firm.

July 2023

No Talk (Summer break)

August  2023

No Talk (Summer break)

September 12th 2023

Talk: GILDED GLORIES – The fascinating history of gilding

The art of beating gold leaf and gilding dates back to ancient Egypt. Gold leaf is nearly 500 times thinner than aluminium foil and traditionally craftsmen pounded gold for hours to create sheets thin enough to cover the most finely detailed surfaces. For over 22 centuries from Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus to Rachel Whiteread’s gilded frieze for the Whitechapel Gallery, skilled artisans have exploited paper-thin metal leaf to enrich materials such as wood, metal, marble, leather, paper, glass, porcelain, and textiles – even food and drink. Artists and craftsmen have illuminated manuscripts and icons, decorated noble houses from top to bottom, adorned domes inside and out, embellished erotic canvases and gilded chocolate and schnapps. Gold leaf continues to be used as the ultimate faux decoration and dazzling ornamentation.
Gilding - Talk at Normandy Village near Guildford Surrey  
Speaker: Joanna Mabbutt  
Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and Freeman of the City of London. Originally a trained singer, pianist and orchestra administrator, Jo is now a decorative artist who gilds antique lace and crochet, often combining with hand printing and painting. She works to commission, sells through galleries and exhibitions, and collaborates with other designers.

Jo trained in wood graining, marbling, gilding, specialist paint finishes and interior design and was awarded the City & Guilds Silver Medal for Excellence in 2000. She taught in further education for 8 years on Art & Design National Diploma and Foundation courses then up skilled at Central St Martin's College of Art & Design developing her own practice. She now divides her time as a designer/maker, lecturer and tutor running workshops for specialist groups.

Tuesday October 10th 2023

Talk: Realism to Symbolism Images of Darkness and Light

Speaker: Kathy McLauchlan
A lecturer specialising in 19th-century art history, I am currently a course director at the Victoria & Albert Museum, organising courses and study days on the history of art and design. I teach at several institutions, including Art Pursuits. I am a graduate of Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute, with a PhD on French 19th-century painters in Rome. I am available for both individual lectures and study days.

Tuesday November 14th 2023

Talk: Robed in dreadful majesty : Music, Poetry, & Traditions of the Advent Season

It is not known exactly when Advent was first acknowledged as part of the Church’s calendar, but it appears to be a tradition that was started sometime in the late 5th century. Etymologically, Advent is derived from the Latin adventus – coming, arrival - and for many people today, as in the past, it is a time for reflection and spiritual preparation for the birth of Christ on 25th December. Over the centuries Advent has attracted many customs and traditions and has also inspired a wide range of fine prose and poetry, as well as some first class music. The lecture follows the ever-evolving traditions of Advent and samples a range of inspired poetry and music.
 Music Poetry and Traditions of the Advent Season - Woking Arts Society Talk 
Peter playing the organ of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome
Speaker: Peter Medhurst
Peter appears in the UK and abroad as a musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Tuesday December 12th 2023

Talk: A Right Royal Christmas: How our Royals have celebrated Christmas through the ages

Our royal families have celebrated Christmas throughout their long history, from William the Conqueror making sure of his claim to the English throne by being crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Feasting on a spectacular scale characterised medieval Christmases – we read of extraordinary culinary delicacies served to Henry II, crane’s flesh, peacocks, and herons. Present-giving always marked the season, from the extravagant – the City of London presented Richard II with a camel and a pelican – to the witty – Mrs. Thatcher sent the Queen a pair of yellow washing-up gloves having seen Her Majesty doing the dishes without any. The Royal Christmas Broadcast is now an established part of our celebrations, and we shall hear extracts from George V’s, George VI’s and our present Queen’s addresses.

This lecture explores these Royal traditions, many of which we have adopted as a necessary part of our own celebrations.
How our Royals have celebrated Christmas through the ages  
Speaker: Roger Askew
Roger was a chorister at Wells Cathedral School and a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with an honours degree in English. He combined a teaching career with professional singing in London, and after obtaining a further degree in Music became Director of Music at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in Edinburgh.

After retiring in 2003 he returned to the south of England. He is President Emeritus of The Stoke Poges Society and Joint Chairman of the Arts Society Windsor.

Prior Year's Talks
To see the activities in previous years, click on the year; 2022 / 2021 / 2020 / 2019 20182017 20162015 2014 20132012 2011 2010
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