Rebecca Barker is responsible for the information on this page.

Lectures are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month (excluding August) at the Priory Centre, St Mary's Priory, Abergavenny promptly at 11.00 am.
Coffee will be available from 10.15 to 10.45 am. In order to avoid disturbance at the end of the lecture we should be grateful if you would allow
enough parking time to cover an over-running lecture. e.g. at least until 12. 15 pm.
Visitors are welcome at a cost of £8 at the door, but they must be signed in by a Member or, if unaccompanied, by a Member of the Committee.

14th September 2017 The Importance of Living Up to One's Teapot - Lars Tharp

12th October 2017 The Dainty Device: Robert Smythson and the Prodigy House - Christopher Rogers

From early Tudor times to the great display houses of Elizabethan England, architecture was used to convey wealth, culture and 'meanings' - both open and hidden. Beginning with the architectural influences that appeared in England at this time, the lecture focuses on the great houses, or 'prodigy' houses such as Hardwick and Longleat, and the work of the Smythson dynasty.

Christopher Rogers read Geography at Oxford and taught geography becoming Head of Geography, Downe House School, Newbury. He became interested in country house architecture whilst at Oxford and has lectured on the subject ever since, lecturing on regular 5 day summer school courses for Marlborough College Summer School and for the National Trust.
Hardwick Hall

9th November 2017 Pierre Bonnard -Painting with Light - Julian Halsby

Bonnard is one of the most popular modern artists and the lecture will explain this popularity by looking at his life and work. He started out in Paris producing lithographs influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec before moving on to paintings in oil and distemper of Paris and its people in which he combines colour, decoration and observation to great effect. After WW1 he concentrates on nudes in interiors, often paintings of his wife, and pictures of friends in domestic settings.Bonnard In 1926 he moved to Le Cannet in the South of France and began painting the colourful landscapes of Provence. Sunlight floods his landscapes and interiors and it is not an exaggeration to say that we still see the South of France through his eyezs. His friendship with Vuillard, Monet and Matisse is also looked at.

Julian Halsby studied History of Art at Cambridge. He was formerly Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at Croyden College of Art . Publications include Venice - the Artist's Vision, The Art of Diana Arnfield RA, Dictionary of Scottish Painters, A Hand to Obey the Demon's Eye, Scottish Watercolours, A Private View - David Wolfers and the New Grafton Gallery.
Julian interviews artists for the Artist magazine and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and the Critics Circle. A practising artist, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1994 and appointed Keeper in 2010.


14th December 2017 io Saturnalia - Happy Christmas the Roman Way - Gillian Hovell

Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival. Many of the pagan habits were therefore absorbed into our Christmas traditions. Present-giving, holly and even party-hats all have their origins in this 2000 year old party. This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we un-wrap the images and stories behind our festive season.

Gillian Hovell After graduating a 2-1 (Hons) in Latin and Ancient History from Exeter University, Gilliam worked in BBC Television and went on to become an award-winning freelance writer, author and public speaker, specialising in archaeology, pre-history and in the Greek and Roman eras. Having led and supported community archaeology projects in a hands-on way (Hence The Muddy Archaeologist) and actively digging at major sites in the UK and Europe (from Orkney's prehistoric Ness of Brodgar to Roman Pompeii and Vindolana and sites and eras in between) she also lectures in the UK and around the Mediterranean on tours and cruises for companies such as Voyages to Antiquity's cruises (including exclusive Muddy Archaeologist Groups) Saga specialist archaeology tours and her own Visiting the Past Tours, as well as on a wide range of Smithsonian Journeys. Gillian shares her passion for ancient history in person, in books, in the field and on-line.



11th January 2018 George Romney's Muse - Emma Lady Hamilton - Peter Warwick

Emma Lady Hamilton 1765 - 1815 was an extraordinary woman who broke through barriers of class and privilege to win a unique place in European history. She would have emerged famous in her own right even without her epic love affair with Britain's greatest naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, which has obscured her own brillilance and artistic achievements first captured by the great portrait painter George Romney. The lecture, illustrated with paintings, drawings and caricatures, captures the beauty that propelled her to celebrity status before her fortunes unravelled after the death of Nelson.

Peter Warwick is an author, historian and major eventEmma Hamilton organiser, and a recognised authority on Admiral Lord Nelson. He specialises in naval and polar history. He chairs the 1805 club, which conseves the monuments of the Georgian sailing navy; the New Waterloo Dispatch/Waterloo 200, the official body arranging bi-centeneray commemorations for Waterloo in 2015, and Thames Alive which in 2012 arranged the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and the Thames Olympic Torch Relay . He lectures at the Defence Academy, National Maritime Museum, National Museum for the Royal Navy, Royal Institution and at schools and universities. He also lectures on cruises.

Emma Hamilton
Emma Hamilton

8th February 2018 Slate, Pine and Fern: Land Art of Andy Goldsworthy - David Cross

Goldsworthy is an artist who responds to the environment in a unique way. Using natural materials such as stone, wood, leaves and blackthorn spines, he creates an eclectic variety of three-dimensional Andy Goldsworthyworks which he then photographs. Some of these works are semi-permanent, like his stone-built sheep fold series in Cumbria which incorporates large dramatic slate 'pine cones' and boulders hidden within each. Other works, in contrast, employ ephemeral materials such as poppy petals and even ice and snow. Land artists accept and celebrate the decay and dispersal of the elements of their work which adds a poignancy to our appreciation.

David Cross, Hon. Research Fellow, Durham University, Founder of the Cumbrian Biographical Project, past President of Cumbria DFAS, author of biography of George Romney specialises in Lake District artists of all genres. He is an art history lecturer to undergraduate and adult classes at Universities, in recent years has lectured on cruises in the Mediterranean and Baltic and has edited two volumes of the illustrated letters of Percy Kelly. His current research is an exploration of the public monuments and sculpture of Cumbria and Lancashire for a Volume in the series for the Liverpool University Press. Catalogue of Paintings in Durham Castle 2002Andy Goldsworthy

Ice Star
andy goldsworthy

8th March 2018 Murder, Sex & Mayhem in English Churches - John Vigar

The peaceful setting of most of our medieval churches cannot cover up the fact they contain Boy with poison berriesimages and references to less savoury aspects of lifeMayhem. Medieval murals and stained glass depict the martyrdom of saints from home and abroad, and the grisliest of dooms. Underneath misericords are images of whippings, wife beatings and brawls whilst stone carvings depict sexual imagery rarely associated with religious buildings. Finally there are many monuments and memorials that show scenes of murder and mayhem in goodly measure including stagecoach crashes, bridge collapses, falling trees bridges and chimneys, shootings, stabbings and mine collapses, shipwrecks and explosions. This lecture shows a selection of such images from across the country and explains both the stories behind them and their relevance to particular periods of history.

Professional ecclesiastical historian, author and broadcaster for over 35 years, John Vigar has visited and recorded over 13,000 churches in England and Wales. He is a trustee of the oldest church preservation society in Britain-The Friends of Friendless Churches, is an employee of The Churches Conservation Trust, Hon. Photographic Curator of The Kempe Trust and Hon. Secretary of the Ledger Stone Survey of England and Wales. In his spare time he has written 12 books, leads specialist church tours and is a tutor at Denman College.


12th April 2018 Votes for Women! Arts and the Suffragettes -Caroline Shenton

In 2018 it'll be 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918. To mark the centenary of women first getting the vote after decades of struggle, this lecture will explore the story of the suffragettes through portrayals in art and their own artistic productions. It will also look at how contemporary artists choose to depict female politicians, and the controversies surrounding these portraits with regard to power, dress and gender: all so familiar to the suffragettes

Director of the Parliamentary Archives at Westminster, archivist, historian and writer Caroline Shenton was educated at St Andrews University, Worcester College Oxford and UCL. She was previously a senior archivist at the National Archives, a Fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society. Honorary teaching fellow in Archives at the University of Dundee, she has appeared on national radio and TV and written for the Spectator. Her book, The Day Parliament Burnt Down, published in 2012, was shortlisted for a number of literary prizes and won the Political Book of theYear Award in 2013.

Votes for women

Votes for Women
Votes for women

10th May 2018 Furniture of the Common Man - Vernacular Furniture - Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski

A look into the lives ot ordinary people through their furniture. Most furniture in museums and books is representative of the wealthier social classes and so tells us little about the living conditions of the humbler classes. Vernacular, in the sense of every day and common, furniture was seldom crude or primitive and often displayed as much sophistication in construction and design as more costly items. This lecture focuses on the period 1600-1800 but also looks at earlier and later items.

Janusz Karczewski- Slowikowski has lectured on antique furniture since 1975 and has been in the NADFAS ( now The Arts Society) directory since 1982. He has lectured to over 320 NADFAS societies including those in Australia, Belguim, France, Germany, The Hague and Spain and in 2017 will be lecturing to the 8 Societies in New Zealand. His interest in antique furniture developed in his days as an undergraduate, when he worked part-time in an antique shop, which he came to take over as proprietor. Such was his interest in collecting that he became known as the dealer who never sold. His lectures seek to explain furniture in terms of the skills and materials employed in its design and construction and also its socio-economic significance.

Vernacular furniture

14th June 2018 The Art of the Magical Cave Churches of Cappadocia - Geri Parlby

The lunar landscape of this extraordinary region situated in the heartland of Anatolia boasts some wonderful examples of Byzantine art. An important centre for Christianity in the 11th to 13th centuries, the churches and monasteries were cut directly into the volcanic rock. However, the simple almost prehistoric exteriors give no indication of the extraordinary art that lies within. Some of the most talented artists from Constantinople were commissioned to decorate the interiors of the ChurchesCappadocian Churches, leaving us with some of the finest surviving examples of medieval Byzantine fresco.

Dr Geri Parly, BA (Hons), MA (Courtauld), PhD, FRSA is a former Fleet Street journalist and film PR. She has a first class honours degree in History and Theology, a Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute and a Theology doctorate from Roehampton University, London. She has been lecturing for the past twelve years both in the UK and Internationally and is principal lecturer on the NADFAS South West Area's History of Art Course and an Honorary Research Fellow at Roehampton University.

Cappadocica 1
Cappadoccia 2

12th July 2018 Sheer Folly - Architectural Extravaganzas - Caroline Holmes

What is folly? The seasoning of pleasure according to Erasmus, as is being swayed by the dictates of passion, expressed in the sheer folly of fantasy architecture with intellectual gymnstics - the temples, grottoes, cascades and rostral columns that pepper landscapes. Then there are the cryptic references to vice and virtue, extravagance and ego, love and jealousy, history and modernism - indeed wherever the mind's eye chooses to lead you. FollyTaking key follies in Europe from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries this presentation explores the themes of Allegory and Fantasy, Classicism and Grandeur, Romanticism and Innovation and finally Modernism and Individuality.

Caroline has lectured in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe and Japan. She lectures for University of Cambridge ICE, the RHS, museums and travel companies. She is a consultant designer specializing in evoking historic, artistic and symbolic references. Caroline is the author of 11 books, she is involved in theatre productions and is a presenter and contributor on TV and BBC Radio 4.


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