Previous Special Interest Days

Tue 11 October 2016   

‘Capability Brown’
At Compton Verney


The 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is being celebrated.

During the day we:

  • heard about the work of Compton Verney from the Director;
  • attended a lecture on ‘Capability’ Brown, given by Professor Tim Mowl;
  • had a guided tour of the grounds by the Head Groundsman
  • were shown the highlights of the Compton Verney collections
  • viewed a display about the work of ‘Capability’ Brown to which the research findings of some of our STRADFAS Heritage Volunteers had contributed.

In the run-up to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s tercentenary this year, and following on from the exhibition on Brown’s work at Compton Verney, for which he was the Consultant Curator, PROFESSOR TIMOTHY MOWL delivered an illustrated lecture on Brown’s aesthetic revolution and his achievements in shaping the 18th century landscape. He considered Brown’s practical approach, his management of water, his creation of parks for sporting pursuits, his architectural commissions, above all his sure eye for the capabilities of a found landscape.

Timothy Mowl 1TIMOTHY MOWL is Emeritus Professor in the History of Architecture and Designed Landscapes at the University of Bristol and Professorial Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Institute at Buckingham University, for whom he delivers an MA in Garden History.
Professor Mowl, generously supported by the Leverhulme  Trust, is embarked upon a research project aimed at producing a series of books on the historic gardens of England, county by county. Many have been completed, including Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire and Hampshire will be published this year.

March 2016
A Journey through 3000 Years of China’s Civilisation.
Lecturer: Anne Haworth

The study day explored the history, civilisation, art and culture of China – The Middle Kingdom. China was once ruled by dynasties of autocratic emperors, believed to be Sons of Heaven with a cosmic role as intermediaries between Heaven and Earth. The Imperial Palace, known as The Forbidden City was built as a symbol of the Heavenly realm of the Celestial Emperor. The country enjoyed a continuing and profound sense of its unique civilisation until the Opium Wars of the 19th Century, the abdication of the last emperor in 1911 and the turbulent history which followed.
The three lectures followed a chronological history from the beginning of the first millennium BC, when Chinese skills in bronze casting, jade cutting, silk weaving and tea-production flourished, through the time of the mighty First Emperor and then the golden ages of the Silk Road. The religions from Buddhism to the philosophy of Confucianism which underpinned Imperial rule were considered. China historically valued literacy, writing and poetry-composition as supreme elements of its cultural identity. An elite class of educated literati emerged who were skilled in calligraphy and painting and developed a culture of gardens. Also considered were the importance of tea, porcelain and silk in the China trade with Europe before moving on to the end of Empire.

Egypt temple AmhotepTuesday 22nd September 2015
Art & Architecture of Egypt’s magnificent Temples & Tombs’: 
Lucia Gahlin
Visitors to Egypt can but marvel at the extraordinary temples and tombs that have survived the millennia. Lucia Gahlin led us through the wealth of ancient art and architecture. She explained that much remains in situ, but that wonderful examples can be enjoyed throughout the world, and in particular spent time on the Ashmolean Museum collection in Oxford.

March 2015: Monarchs, Murders, Mistresses and Musketeers – The French Monarchy 1515-1643: Fenella Billington
We were treated to a day of intrigue and cultural development in France: We learned that Francis 1 was a passionate supporter of the Italian Renaissance and the first king of France to systematically collect works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci and Cellini. We listened to
turbulent times of contrast – passion, violence, religious unrest and uprising, set against the elegance and beauty of the chateaux of the Loire. Fenella Billington handed us details of the family trees of the Houses of Valois, Bourbon and Medici and a reading list.

October 2014: Cornish Art; Lecturer: David Tovey
A large audience listened attentively as David Tovey led us on a tour of the history of Cornish art, initially centering on an exhibition held by Cornish artists at Nottingham Castle Museum in 1894 (and to be replicated in Spring 2015). He covered the related social history of the group of artists, their very different backgrounds, and finally how their reputation extended internationally

March 2014: Music Inspired by Paintings and Paintings inspired by Music
Peter Medhurst’s three lectures spanned over 600 years of the arts, analysing and discussing works from Respighi’s ‘Trittico Botticelliano’ (1927) inspired by Botticelli’s ‘La Primavera’ (1482), ‘Adoration of the Magi’ (1475) and ‘The Birth of Venus (1486) to the painting by M von Schwind, ‘Symphony’ (1852) with which a connection was made with Beethoven’s ‘Fantasia in C for Piano, Soloists,Chorus and Orchestra’ (1808). Peter’s manipulation of pictures and music was an amazing ‘tour de force’ and the audience left enraptured by the day.

October 2013: The Jewel in the Crown: Classical and Medieval Sicily
Over 100 members listened to Jane Angelini reveal the rich fusion of artistic and architectural styles, the result of invasions by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Italians, which make this island unique.

The Birth of the Novel
To mark the Bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, STRADFAS held a Study Day, when Jane Tapley, who specialises in Victorian theatre and literature, gave a fascinating talk on the development of the English novel.  As well as explaining the importance of works by Dickens, members were delighted to learn about other authors of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe and Henry Fielding.

Moghuls and Maharajas
Three lectures by our knowledgeable speaker Edward Saunders were barely enough to tackle this vast subject!  Members heard about the importance of these Indian Emperors from the 16th century onwards, and were treated to wonderful images of the Taj Mahal and the beautiful regal courts and buildings of the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur.