6th March 2017

Mr Paul Atterbury: New Horizons (emigration)

During the reign of Queen Victoria, 11 million people left Britain to seek a new life in distant lands. This mass emigration, some voluntary and some forced, was crucial in the development of countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Some emigrants were successful in their quest for a new life, and many failed but for the majority the result of emigration was a complete break with their families and friends back home. Among the most poignant reminders of the waves of 19th century emigration are remarkable paintings and drawings documenting the experience of emigration, from the process of leaving home to the often painful experience of coming to terms with a new world. These paintings tell extraordinary stories and in the process offer a remarkable insight into the making of modern Australia.

10th April 2017

Prof. John Maynard: True Light and Shade: Joseph Lycett, artist.

John Maynard discusses the work of the convict artist John Lycett. Joseph Lycett’s paintings powerfully capture in intimate detail Aboriginal life, a rare record of Aboriginal people within the vicinity of Newcastle and their earliest relationships with Europeans. Each picture details what is happening: ceremony, hunting and fishing, carrying food (carving up whale meat), land management and burning, interactions with Europeans, family life, dances, funeral rituals, and punishment.

15th May 2017

Ms. Zara Fleming: Bhutan - the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

A general introduction to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, known by its inhabitants as Druk Yul or land of the Thunder Dragon. This is a reference to the Drukpa tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism that permeates every aspect of Bhutanese life. This lecture explores the history, art and culture of this extraordinary country, which for centuries has preserved its traditional Buddhist values. Over the last few decades there have been many changes; such as the introduction of roads, television and tourism. Will Bhutan be able to maintain the fine balance between tradition and modernity without diminishing its very unique culture.

19th June 2017

Mr Robert Ketton: Writing the Rails

Perhaps it’s the rhythm of the motion, or the romance of a journey, or simply the experience of being in such close contact with our fellow passengers that makes trains such a great source of literary inspiration. From the time of Stephenson’s Rocket to the latest high-speed train railways have been a fertile source of plot and character for writers. Using a mixture of prose and poetry, Robert will explore the ways in which the railway has been used as a context for tales of romance, adventure, crime and punishment. With his background in theatre, and using the ‘lantern lecture’, as his guide Robert brings to life passages by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Guy De Maupassant, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and a host of other great writers. Using a mixture of humour and more serious material, Robert will take you on a first class literary journey around the world, catching some great trains, as well as taking you occasionally to places that you would only want to visit in your imagination.

10th July 2017

Dr Sophie Oosterwijk: Wine, Women and Song? Dutch Genre Painting by Vermeer and his contemporaries

On the surface, seventeenth-century society in the Dutch Republic might strike modern viewers as staunchly Calvinistic, especially in portraits of merchants and dignitaries with their wives, all in stern black outfits and stiff white collars. Nonetheless, there was clearly another side to society, as genre paintings can reveal to us. Genre paintings are often described simply as scenes of everyday life, but there is usually more to them than that. Whereas scenes in the work of Johannes Vermeer may seem above reproach with their sense of respectability and even serenity, he did work in the same context as his contemporaries Pieter de Hooch, Jan Steen and Gabriel Metsu, to name but a few. An elegant couple in a well-furnished room may appear respectable enough, and not all that different from the image of society that portraits convey to us. However, when we also start noticing a glass and a jug, musical instruments, and perhaps suggestive paintings on the walls in the background, it is quite likely that the artist intended his viewer to read a bit more into his painting: perhaps a proper courtship, but possibly something rather less proper.

14th August 2017

Mr Nigel Bates: Tantrums and Tiaras

We take a look at the life backstage at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London and the tribulations and triumphs of working with the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet companies. Simply putting on the performances is not enough – there has to be encouragement for the audience to spend quite large amounts of money to attend a performance. We look at the way artistic inspirations, the people involved and the unique building all function together to create world-class opera and ballet in a unique environment.

11th September 2017

Ms Ghislaine Howard: The Cuisine of Art and the Art of Cuisine

This lecture will be a feast for the eyes and tickle the taste buds, an inspiration for your cooking, and looking. It will feature the art, anecdotes and recipes of artists who loved their food. We will discuss Toulouse Lautrec, famous in his day for his truly fabulous meals and infamous cookbook, Renoir who introduced Paris to the pleasures of Provencal peasant cooking as well as Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and many others. We have prepared a special recipe booklet that can be posted on the internet, or bring a pen!

16th October 2017

Mr James Bolton: Romans and Roses: a History of Italian Gardens.

The lecture explores the development of Italian gardens from the Emperor Hadrian’s 1st Century garden at Tivoli, which provided inspiration and building materials for generations of architects and garden makers. The Renaissance saw an explosion of garden making, principally around the new villas being built first outside Florence and later round Rome, which from 1500 witnessed the most exciting gardens of the period. Thereafter the Italians went all English and landscape gardens replaced the formality that had presided until then. The 20th Century has seen a resurgence of Italian gardening represented here by two gardens south of Rome at Landriana, created by the English garden designer, Russell Page and spectacularly, the gardens of Ninfa where plants cascade over a ruined medieval Italian town.

13th November 2017 (Newcastle Lecture)

Dr Dianne Firth: Inspiration from the Land

Making quilts for warmth, comfort and beauty has a long tradition in Australia. More recently, in line with similar movements overseas, the art quilt movement where quilts are appreciated as art has developed into a strong and vital artform. In this presentation Firth provides an overview of contemporary quiltmaking in Australia, traces the development of the art quilt movement, and shows how inspiration from the land and patterns of nature inform both her and other Australian quilters’ art making.