DIANA SWANN: Riveting lectures on art and design

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OUR new season at the Portsea Island Decorative and Fine Arts Society started with a lecture on October 11 in which George Hart introduced us to the lithographs by the early 19th century artist David Roberts, made during his extraordinary travels in the Holy Land.

Some of us, including me, might have thought it sounded an unpromising subject – how wrong we were.

George was the British Museum’s staff lecturer on their Ancient Egyptian and Greek collections.

He illuminated Roberts’ subtle depictions of famous Biblical sites such as the Mount of Olives or the ancient city of Petra with an archaeologist’s eye for detail.

On November 8 we were back in England with a lecture describing The Good Life – not the TV series, but the hopefully idealised existence created by the Arts and Crafts architects and designers, Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers in the Cotswolds, more than 100 years ago.

Our riveting lecturer Anne Anderson, an expert on all aspects of Victorian and early twentieth century life, painted a fascinating picture of a community trying to return to a Utopian country life where furniture was simply constructed, using pre-industrial methods, yet made for the use of Everyman.

Ironically they only succeeded in building houses and designing artefacts that were wildly expensive and beyond any ordinary workman’s means.

This was a particularly fluent and often witty lecture, which beguiled us with the beautiful workmanship of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Our study day yesterday at Cathedral House, St Thomas Street, was on the great landscape architect Capability Brown.

We enjoyed two illustrated lectures interspersed with a break, a buffet lunch and wine and a final lecture in the afternoon ending at 3pm.

Our December 13 lecture will be Amanda Herries’ examination of the wonderful jewels and treasure of the Cheapside Hoard.

Amanda was a curator of the London Museum for 10 years and is now a trustee of the Scottish National Trust.

We will meet as usual in the foyer of the University of Portsmouth’s Eldon Building, off Winston Churchill Avenue, from 6pm.

There will be coffee, mince pies and stollen and we’ll browse the work of local craftspeople before the lecture at 7pm.

Why not call (023) 9282 0317 or visit pidfas.org.uk for details.

Diana Swann is from Portsea Island Decorative and Fine Arts Society

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