9th January

Lars Tharp

Hogarth, harlots, rakes and crashing china

An accidental introduction to the life and works of William Hogarth (1697-1764) - his material world and to a wide world of ceramics. Interiors peppered with pots - not merely decoration but part players in Hogarth’s modern moral subjects (some naughtiness here).

13th February

Susan Whitfield

The silk road and the arts of China

The opening of trade routes across Eurasia by land and sea enabled the movement of peoples, along with their cultures, arts, beliefs, technical skills and aesthetics. This was to have a profound influence on the arts of China, introducing new forms, designs, and materials, along with the craftsmen to pass on their skills. This lecture will look at several examples of masterpieces of art from China in the first millennium AD to illustrate this influence and show how the arts of China were greatly enriched by its Silk Road links.

13th March

Stephen Duffy

Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles

The extraordinary story of the nine weeks that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent together in Arles in southern France in 1888 is one of the most famous in the whole history of art. So many powerful emotions are swept up in it - friendship and rivalry, ambition, jealousy, contempt and admiration - while of course it also led to some of the most celebrated paintings of early modern art. The encounter between these two tempestuous characters, including the episode of Van Gogh cutting off his ear, forms the subject of this lecture which also places the artists' stay in Arles in the context of their careers and within the wider history of late nineteenth-century painting.

10th April

Tony Rawlins

Mad men and artists. How the advertising industry exploited fine art

Fine art has provided advertisers and their agencies with a great deal of material to use in their creative campaigns. Tony describes some of the processes by which these advertisements have been created and why the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo have been a particularly rich source. From the Renaissance through to the present day fine art continues to provide opportunities to enhance Brand imagery with admiration, humour, satire and irony.

8th May

John Stevens

Imperial Calcutta, arts and architecture

Calcutta was the second city of the British Empire and a hub of cultural and artistic production throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This lecture provides an overview of the arts (poetry, theatre, literature, song) and architecture of this extraordinary city, which was India’s capital until 1911. At the epicentre of the ‘Bengal renaissance’, Calcutta played a central role in shaping the arts and culture of modern India, as a huge variety of artists sought to interpret India’s classical heritage in new ways, and to combine this heritage with Western cultural forms.

12th June

Andy McConnell

Bottoms up - A history of wine, its rituals and its vessels

Andy is the Antique Roadshow’s outrageous glass expert. Bottoms Up! traces the story of wine: from its humble beginnings in rotting grapes before the Bronze Age to the present when single bottles can change hands for thousands, even tens of thousands of pounds. It examines the extraordinary diversity of paintings and artefacts, including drinking vessels, that have been created by history’s greatest artists and craftsmen to enhance the pleasure of wine, and to impress guests.

10th July

Richard Box

A stitch in time - 1,000 years of British embroidery

Even in the 21st century embroidery is still considered, by many, as an insignificant decorative craft, often insulted as mere 'women's work' and thus denigrating women's creative prowess and the craft itself. This lecture extols the wonders from 11th century 'Opus Anglicanum' (the most desired gift for Popes, Kings and Princes) to amazing examples of 21st century work with contemporary fabrics and threads, both creative and experimental machine and hand stitchery.

11th September


10.30am Gavin Plumley

The two Gustavs - Mahler and Klimt

Gustav Klimt was one of the most prominent figures in the Viennese fin de siècle, creating paintings whose sexual themes and bold use of colour and gold shocked an unsuspecting populace. He and his colleagues broke away from the imperially endorsed art institutions in Vienna in 1897 and founded the Secession. That was the same year that Gustav Mahler arrived to take charge of the Opera House in the city. Comparing these two totemic talents, this lecture places Klimt and Mahler in context, asking what fundamentally links and, indeed, divides them. WARNING - may contain music.

9th October

Jane Gardiner

Worcester Porcelain

This lecture will look at the early experiments into porcelain making in England particularly the Worcester factory. It will examine the different pastes developed in an attempt to achieve both whiteness and strength, consider the influence of both silver and continental porcelain on shapes and decoration; and will look back at Chinese and Japanese export wares as a source of inspiration. In addition, it will show the ways in which porcelain was both displayed and used and discuss the fashion for porcelain figures.

13th November

Ian Gledhill

The magic of pantomime

The history of this enduring and peculiarly British institution, from its origins in 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte through the influence of 19th century music hall, to the family shows that are still much loved today. On the way we examine the origins of some of the stories used in pantomime as well as such traditions as the (female) principal boy and the (male) pantomime dame. The talk is interspersed with personal anecdotes from the speaker’s years of working (and appearing) professionally in pantomime (with Julian Clary). 



Thursday, 28th February

A tour of Lincoln’s Inn, followed by the Soane Museum in the afternoon (tbc).

Sir John Soane was a famous neoclassical architect, responsible for building the Bank of England and other notable places. The Museum displays his collection of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings – including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto.

Tuesday, 2nd April.

Upton House and Broughton Castle, near Banbury.

Upton House has a world-class art collection, including works by Bosch, Stubbs, and El Greco, as well as fine porcelain. Broughton Castle is a medieval fortified manor house, built in 1300 at the confluence of three streams creating a natural site for a moated manor. It is now the home of the Fiennes family, Barons Saye and Sele.

Tuesday May 14th.

A visit to Tate Britain for the Van Gogh exhibition.

The exhibition will look at the relationship of Van Gogh with Britain – how he was inspired by British art, and how he in turn influenced British artists, from Walter Sickert to Francis Bacon. Entry to the exhibition will be preceded by a lecture.

Thursday 6th June.

Hindu Temple and Syon House.

The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a beautiful Hindu temple in Neasden, London. Built entirely using traditional methods and materials, the Swaminarayan Mandir has been described as being Britain's first authentic Hindu temple. At lunchtime we will go on to Syon House. The Tudor mansion was remodelled by Robert Adam in the 1760's. The great hall may be considered Adam's finest classical work. Syon has 30-acre gardens within a 200-acre park transformed by 'Capability' Brown.

Thursday 4th July.

Highgate Cemetery, followed by Keats House (tbc).

Highgate Cemetery has some of the finest Victorian funerary architecture in the country. There will be a tour of the West award 2018.Cemetery and a short opportunity to visit the East Cemetery. The former home of poet John Keats is a literary centre with original manuscripts and artefacts and the winner of Time Out's Love London

Thursday 5th September.

Audley End House

Audley End House is a largely early 17th-century country house outside Saffron Walden, Essex. It was once a prodigy house, a palace in all but name and renowned as one of the finest Jacobean houses in England. In addition to the art collection and extensive gardens, there are fascinating exhibitions about daily life in the servants’ quarters, stables and nursery. Not to be missed is the dolls’ house!




1st March 2018

The start of our guided tour of the museum

Under the Cutty Sark
The Queen's House, overlooked by Elizabeth II
The Tulip staircase in the Queens House