The Arts Society Haslemere
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Meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month at 1.45 p.m. for 2.00 p.m. 
There are no afternoon lectures in July and August.

Lectures take place at the Haslemere Hall (see Venue for how to find us).

Members are asked to register their attendance on arrival.
No admittance after the start of the lecture.
Tea, coffee and biscuits are served after the lecture which lasts about one hour.

Some past lectures have been
reported in the local press.
To read the articles, CLICK HERE.


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Villa Monastero, Varenna, LakeComo


The illustrious gardens on the shores of lakes Como and Maggiore in the mountainous far north of Italy – a source of inspiration for Wordsworth, Shelley and Liszt.

The gardens in the far north of Italy, are admired throughout the world for their beauty and variety in a magnificent natural location. The common factor for these gardens is their setting in this landscape of exceptional scenery. Lake Como is a deep lake hemmed in like a fjord by towering mountains. Lake Maggiore has more the character of an inland sea, with ferries crossing to the famous island gardens for an afternoon in another world. Both lakes are lined with the towers, villas and grand hotels that speak of a complex history including key events in Italy's struggle to achieve nationhood, inspiration for a string of illustrious writers and composers, and a long line of distinguished visitors.

Steven Desmond began as a professional gardener, lectured for 15 years in Colleges of Horticulture, and is now a landscape consultant specialising in the conservation and management of historic parks and gardens. He lectures at the Universities of Buckingham and Oxford. He leads specialist tours to gardens, houses and cultural landscapes in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. He broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and writes for Country Life. His book ‘Gardens of the Italian Lakes’ was published in April 2016.

Pallas Athene detail) by Gustav Klimt, 1898

AGM 1.45pm
Followed by lecture


The artist’s career – from his early years and establishment of the Vienna Secession in 1897 through to the masterpieces of the early 20th century.

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) enrolled in the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts in 1876, where he studied until 1883, and received training as an architectural painter. He began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstraße, including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems". In 1888, Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to art. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. His later career became inseparable from the Vienna Secession of which he was one of the founding members and President in 1897. He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group's goals were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the best foreign artists works to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine, called Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring), to showcase members' work. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style – Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted.

Dr Scott Anderson is a WEA lecturer and lectures to degree course level at Leicester, Warwickshire, Nottingham, Birmingham and Cambridge Universities. Currently a senior lecturer at Southampton University, Dr Anderson is course leader for BA (Hons) Art, Design and Business.

The Adoration of the Kings (detail) by Jan Gossaert, 1510-15


A look at the most moving works of art inspired by the life of Christ.

The theme of Christmas, taking us from the Annunciation to the Adoration of the Shepherds and of the three Kings, has inspired some of the greatest and most moving works of art ever created. The Gospels however give only limited information. Over the centuries, this has been expanded into a rich blend of legend and fact and the lecture illustrates this, showing how the wise men became kings, how it was decided that there were three of them, the symbolism associated with their gifts, how the animals turned up at the event and much more.

Valerie Woodgate is a Lecturer and Guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and at many other London Galleries, for the National Trust and on P&O Cruises. She is a former member of the teaching team at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. She is also a script-writer for the Living Paintings Trust, which brings art to the blind and partially-sighted.
HDFAS Christmas Tea
The lecture will be followed by Christmas Tea.
No booking required.


Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, detail, c. 1780


A musically–illustrated exploration of the great composer’s love of opera and how he applied his genius to the form.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (7 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) once wrote to his father: ’Do not forget my wish to write operas! I am envious of every man who composes one’. The theatre was in Mozart’s blood, and during his career not only did he compose 21 works for the stage, but also modernised and perfected the whole approach to the writing of opera. The lecture will explore Mozart’s genius as an opera composer and examine some of the highlights in Mozart’s operas, drawing on The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute.

Peter Medhurst did his musical training at the Royal College of Music where he studied singing, organ and composition. In 1978, he won a scholarship from the Austrian government and studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. On his return he took harpsichord lessons with Ruth Dyson, who became his accompanist and fellow keyboard duettist. Over the years Peter Medhurst has lectured for the universities of Kent and Surrey, directed a wide range of choirs and instrumental groups, and adjudicated and given masterclasses for the British Federation of Music Festivals. He is director of ’The Classical Music Company’, an organisation that promotes musical events, creates films about the arts and organises specialist music tours to unusual locations at home and abroad. In his lectures, Peter Medhurst links the world of music with the visual arts, and in addition to digital and video graphics, performs live vocal and keyboard music to complement the theme of the talk.


The Great Pyramid, Giza, Egypt
Bookings open for Study Day on Thursday 1st March and
for the 2018 Foreign Visit to Budapest on 30th September.


Combining literary and artistic evidence for the monuments with examination of the sites where they once stood.

Two tombs, a couple of statues, one temple, a garden and a lighthouse have become celebrated as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But how much do we know about them? Why and how were they chosen? And, given that six out of the seven were destroyed long ago, can we recreate their size, beauty and majesty, and the shock and awe that they generated? Combining literary and artistic evidence for the monuments with examination of the sites where they once stood, this talk will try to make the vestigial traces of their grandeur come to life once again.

Dr Stephen Kershaw (B.A. (Hons.); Ph.D.) has had a special interest in the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans ever since being introduced to Homer’s Iliad by an inspirational teacher at primary school. He studied Classics at Bristol University and having taught Classics in a number of establishments, he now operates principally for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. He authored and teaches Oxford’s on–line Greek Mythology course, is a guest speaker for Swan Hellenic Cruises and Royal Hebridean Cruises and, as Professor of History of Art, he currently runs the European Studies Classical Tour for Rhodes College and the University of the South.

Mayan artifact


A look at the fact and fantasy of Mayan art, archaeology and science, examining the nature and achievements of this extraordinary lost civilisation.

The Maya created one of the most sophisticated civilizations in the ancient world.  Their achievements in the arts and sciences, along with their complex social, political and economic systems, make them one of the most remarkable culture groups in the Precolumbian Americas. These people brought us an intricate calendar system, complex hieroglyphic writing, some of the largest pyramids in the world, a form of ballgame that was like no other and most importantly chocolate! This lecture will discuss the major achievements of the Maya as well as pointing out the common misunderstandings we have of this remarkable civilization.

Dr Diane Davies is a Maya Archaeologist and educator on the Ancient Maya for the Primary History Curriculum. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, lectures to Arts Societies and is a Historical Association speaker. She is also a lecturer at the City Literary College and the WEA.

MARCH 20th
Bronze statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds by Alfred Drury, 1931, in front of main entrance to the RA.
Bookings open for Study Day on Wednesday 2nd May.

Exploring its past and present – from its foundation in 1768 via various London homes up to its present site and role at Burlington House.

Britain’s oldest fine arts institution will be celebrating its 250th Anniversary in 2018. The Royal Academy has an illustrious history from the mid 18th century through to the 21st century. We contemplate its past and review its various homes before settling on its current Mayfair location in Burlington House. This fully illustrated talk explores a selection of its ground–breaking temporary loan exhibitions and considers its role and impact on the art scene, both on British soil and overseas. The talk wouldn’t be complete without a behind the scene look at the Summer Exhibition – held without interruption since 1769 – which displays works in a variety of media and genres by emerging and established contemporary artists. In addition, we will look at the influence of certain world-renowned Royal Academicians and the pivotal role that is played by the RA Schools. The impressive roll call of RAs over the past 250 years includes household names such as Reynolds, Constable, Turner, Munnings and, more recently, Hockney, Paolozzi, Foster, Craig-Martin and Gormley.

Pamela Campbell–Johnson acquired an MA Hons in Art History at St Andrew’s University. She has over 20 years of lecturing experience to undergraduates, adult groups, and to Friends and Patrons of the Royal Academy of Arts as part of the Adult Education Department’s programme of events. She has also conducted numerous guided tours and focused gallery talks on individual works of art, specialising in British Domestic Architecture and Modern British Art. In addition to over 12 years’ experience at the Royal Academy, she has worked at Bonhams, Art Loss Register and the National Trust. Now a freelance art consultant and lecturer. Recently curated a collection for the Lansdowne Club.

APRIL 17th
Winnie the Pooh and Piglet
Bookings open for Outing on Tuesday 12th June.
Bookings also open for the Special Evening Event on Friday 6th July.


A colourful and nostalgic look at a range of literary illustrations, focusing on the lives of their famous creators such as Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham.

As adults we carry in our heads a huge number of images from childhood and probably some of those most deeply etched come from illustrations in books that we read as children. Images of ’Tigger’ and ’Toad’ drawn by E.H. Shepard will probably remain with us for ever! In addition many of us will carry in our mind’s eye pictures from children’s classics such as ’Black Beauty’ and ’Treasure Island’ – or even ’The tiger who came to tea’ that we may have discovered and read to our grandchildren! In this lecture we will not only consider a range of book illustrations but also the intriguing lives of famous illustrators such as Beatrix Potter and Howard Pyle. We will explore how the interaction of image and narrative creates such powerful memories.

John Ericson was a lecturer at the University of Bath where he was Director of Studies in the School of Education with responsibility for the professional development of teachers. His principal areas of research were course design and the role of pictures in both teaching and learning. He also found time to teach presentation skills to his academic colleagues, a topic close to his heart. He has worked extensively overseas as an educational consultant and this has given him the opportunity to give lectures and presentations at conferences all over the world.

MAY 15th
The Lawn Road Flats NW3


The Lawn Road Flats NW3 – the story of a ground-breaking building, now Grade I listed, and the rich and complex lives of its residents.

This is a story with a plot worthy of Agatha Christie and its cast includes the author herself, along with Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, refugees from the German Bauhaus, Henry Moore and many intellectuals and civil servants. The setting is The Lawn Road Flats, a startling modernist block of small serviced flats with a restaurant and club, both bohemian and sinister. It was also home to a nest of Soviet spies, including the recruiter and controller of the Cambridge Five.

Deborah Lambert was formerly Curator of the Schroder Collection, a private art collection. She studied for her MA in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute and worked for many years as an academic director and lecturer for Christie’s Education. She appears regularly as a furniture specialist on the Antiques Roadshow.

JUNE 19th
Women of Algiers by Pablo Picasso, 1955, sold for $179m in 2015
Booking opens for Outing on Thursday 11th October.


The top end of the art market – examining the beautiful and varied artworks that share the common thread of extraordinary commercial value.

Is a small piece of canvas worth as much as the world’s largest super yacht?  In the last few years, plenty of buyers think so. The sums are astronomical, but these are top class works and this lecture is an excuse to examine some beautiful and varied art. We’ll include Picasso, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Leonardo, Modigliani, Klimt, Gauguin and others. All held together by the common thread of changing hands for at least $100 million each. In the lecture we’ll look at the art, the artists, the stories behind the sales, the buyers and the sellers and the lecturer will try to answer the question “Are they really worth it?”

Ian Swankie is a native Londoner and a guide and lecturer with a special interest in art and architecture. He is an accredited NADFAS lecturer, a fully qualified City of London tour guide, a City of Westminster guide and a green badge holder from the Institute of Tourist Guiding. He is also an official guide at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Guildhall Art Gallery – and a Freeman of the City of London.



7.00 p.m. Reception – canapés and drinks
7.30 p.m. Cutting the Golden Jubilee Cake
7.45 p.m. Musical Interlude - Anastasia Alexandrou (piano)
8.00 p.m. Lecture

Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion by Bertie Pearce


A whistle-stop tour of the history of mystery from 3000BC to the 21st century – magic, trickery and the art of the impossible.

From the beginning of time the fascination with magic and the impossible has been widespread. Egypt was the cradle of magic. Sorcerer priests used scientific principles to create illusions for the edification of worship and to hold power over the people. Where there was power there was magic. Then there is the age-old skill of sleight of hand, which proves that ‘the hand is quicker than the eye’. Magicians were known as ‘Jongleurs’ lest they be sentenced to death for ‘witchcraft and conjuration’ under the edicts of Henry VIII.
With the emergence of the Music Hall, magic gained a new respectability and audiences flocked in their thousands to watch the extraordinary feats of The Great Illusionists. This gave birth to legendary tricks such as pulling a rabbit from a hat and sawing a lady in half. And if magicians guarded their secrets with their lives, how was the Magic Circle formed? Home to 10,000 secrets. Even today in our super technical age of iPods and broadband, the wonder and surprise of magic are as popular as ever, not forgetting the Harry Potter craze

Bertie Pearce has a BA (Hons) in Drama, and a Diploma Internationale from the Ecole Internationale du Theatre Jacques Lecoq. He is a member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star and has performed all over the world in weird and wonderful places including The Magic Castle in Hollywood, The Kulm Hotel in St Moritz and The Bertie and Boo Cafe in Balham, London. He has lectured to cruise ship audiences, the Women’s Institute, theatre clubs and the Sussex Magic Circle, as well as NADFAS. In addition, he has toured the world with a magic cabaret show and a one man show entitled ‘All Aboard’.

Ticket price: £15
Tickets are non-refundable

Queen Elizabeth I ('The Ditchley portrait' - detail) by Gheeraerts Marcus the Younger, 1592
Bookings open for Study Day on Thursday 1st November.


Tracing the stories and influences of artists who came to England’s capital from the Tudor period through to the Renaissance, including Holbein, van Dyck and Rubens.

Why were foreigner painters preferred by the aristocracy in London to native-born English painters, why did foreigners come in the first place, what was their motivation, and what was the impact of foreigners in London on English art and art practise? The lecture will look at the various formats and uses of art, tracing foreign artists from the Tudor period through to the Renaissance and Baroque, looking at their origins and how they came to work in England. It will examine the contributions of artists such as Holbein, Gerrit van Honthorst, Marcus Gheeraerts the younger, Lucas and Susanna Horenbout, Isaac Oliver, Paulus van Somer, van Dyck, Peter Lely, and Rubens. This lecture will look at how these artists influenced the British School of painting and assess their legacy.

Leslie Primo is a graduate with a degree in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck, University College, London. He specialised in early Medieval and Renaissance studies, including Italian Renaissance Drawing, Art and Architecture in Europe, Medici and Patronage, Narrative Painting in the Age of Giotto, the work of Peter Paul Rubens and Greek Myth in paintings. He has worked at the National Gallery, London, since 2000, The Arts Society since 2009, and has also taught outreach courses at the Courtauld Institute and a variety of art history courses as a visiting lecturer at Reading University. He currently lectures at the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and teaches a variety of art history courses.