Note: The Hall opens at 1.30pm and the lecture starts at 2.00 pm
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MDFAS lectures for 2013/14

8th April 2014

Heritage of Storms: Lord Byron, his Romantic Inheritance and his Artistic Legacy

Elizabeth Merry


Byron’s family history is a story as turbulent and passionate as that of any of his romantic and troubled heroes. The lame son of ‘Mad Jack’ Byron, gambler, renegade Guardsman and debauched seducer of high society beauties, and rich heiress Catherine Gordon of Gight, who herself came from a long line of lawless and violent Scottish aristocracy, Lord Byron’s was indeed a heritage of storms. This talk starts with a look at the background and upbringing of ‘Mrs Byron’s crooked devil’, as his schoolfellows in Aberdeen described him, his unexpected succession to the Byron title and his development as peer, philanderer and poet. The stormy political upheavals of the late 18th and early 19th century and the ongoing tide of Romanticism in art and literature show Byron very much as a child of his time. But his artistic legacy is one for all time; of all the Romantic poets Byron has been the most influential on subsequent art, literature and drama. We look at this legacy and see how Byron is still making waves today.

Elizabeth Merry has over twenty years’ experience lecturing on a range of subjects including classical art and architecture, aspects of the visual arts and literature. She has lectured to the WEA, the University of Bristol’s Department of Continuing Adult Education, the Royal Society of Arts and the Jane Austen Society.  She has also acted as a co-lecturer on study tours to Rome, Aachen, Cologne, Brittany and the Dordogne, and run study weekends for the WEA.
Elizabeth's website acn be seen by clicking here

13th May 2014

A Victorian Idyll: ‘Cottage Gardens’ from Allingham to Lutyens

Dr Anne Anderson

 As the 19th century came to a close, many Victorians were nostalgic for a pre-industrial countryside and rural way of life.  City dwellers looked on the countryside through ‘rose-tinted glasses’ and saw thatched cottages with roses round the door, chickens in the yard and bonny children playing with kittens.   Overtaken by the industrial revolution the extension of the rail network and migration to the cities, the rural cottage was no longer the home of the farm labourer or ‘picturesque peasant’.  Increasingly it was the gentrified home of the middle class commuter, while at Red House, William Morris created the fist suburban ‘cottage garden’ replete with rose arbours and trellis.  Three generations of Victorian painters captured the disappearing rural cottage and its garden.  Miles Birket Foster began the trend, in the 1860s concentrating on idyllic images of children against the background of their cottage homes.  Helen Allingham continued the vogue, concentrating on the cottages and using mothers and their children to add scale and sentiment.  During the Edwardian period interest shifted away from the cottages to their gardens, especially the ‘restoration garden’ and the arts and crafts garden.  Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll blended aspects of both, including topiary, architectural features and old English plants, in their formal gardens.

Anne Anderson graduated in Art History and Archaeology from Leicester University in 1978 and worked as an archaeologist for 8 years, being elected to the Society of Antiquaries in 1997. 1993-2007 she was a senior lecturer on the Fine Arts Valuation degree courses at Southampton Solent University, specialising in the Aesthetic Movement, Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Modernism. She is currently Hon. Research Fellow at Exeter University; a Fletcher Jones Fellow of the Huntington Library, CA; a fellow of the Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum and Library; Cumming Ceramic Research Foundation Fellow (2007 and 2010) and consultant for Lord Frederic Leighton's Studio-House, Kensington. Her 2008 exhibition Ancient Landscapes, Pastoral Visions Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists attracted some 47,000 visitors. She has published books on Roman pottery, Art Deco teapots and Edward Burne-Jones. Her television credits include BBC's Flog It!


10th June 2014

The Genius of Antonio Stradivari

Toby Faber


Two hundred and fifty years after Antonio Stradivari’s death, his violins and cellos remain the most highly prized instruments in the world. Loved by great musicians and capable of fetching fabulous sums when sold, their tone and beauty are legendary. Every subsequent violin-maker has tried to cellomatch them. Not one has succeeded. How can that be? This lecture explores that central mystery by following some of Stradivari’s instruments from his workshop to the present day. It is a story that travels from the salons of Vienna to the concert halls of New York, and from the breakthroughs of Beethoven’s last quartets to the first phonographic recordings.
Toby Faber’s book Stradivarius: Five violins, one cello and a genius, was described in The New York Times as ‘more enthralling, earthy and illuminating than any fiction could be.’ The lecture is illustrated with pictures of violins and of key individuals and locations, as well as with some short musical recordings.

Toby Faber has written two works of narrative non-fiction: Stradivarius and Fabergé's Eggs.  He was previously a banker, management consultant and publisher and remains on the board of the publishing company founded by his grandfather, Faber and Faber.

8th July 2014
Judy Rudoe
The Power of Jewellery: Adornment and Ritual from Prehistory to the Present

Why do we wear jeweller? What lies behind it and what did it mean to the people who wore it ? This new thought-provoking lecture reveals how jewellery hasbeen 00015852_001worn and used, across time and across place. Everyone decoratesthe body, but there are different notions of how to do so and which parts to decorate. In many societies jewellery serves as vital protection against evil spirits. It can be a powerful vehicle of communication, indicating the wearer’s preoccupations, their religion orethnic group. It can be a keepsake of a loved one, or a memorial to the dead. And it can also be a work of art in its own right harnessing all the skills of the 00087066_001goldsmith, gem-setter, or enameller.  Based on the collections of the British Museum, where the speaker has worked for 40 years, this lecture takes you from ancient burial ornaments by anonymous masters to the big names of the modern world.

Since 1974 Judy Rudoe has been a curator at the British Museum (BM), specialising in jewellery, and in 19th-20th century decorative arts. Author of Cartier 1900-1939 (BM 1997) and organiser of the Cartier exhibition at the BM, co-author of the Catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift of Jewellery (BM 1984), contributor to the Catalogue of Micromosaics in the Gilbert Collection (2000). Her latest book, Jewellery in the Age of Victoria, co-authored with Charlotte Gere, was published in 2010 and won the 2011 William Berger Prize for British Art