Venue: The Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough

1.40 pm, first Thursday of the month  - February to June and September to December

Note: no meetings in January, July and August 



February 7

Linda Smith

Great Tarts in Art: High Culture and the Oldest Profession

 A mixture of art-historical analysis and scandalous anecdote, this lecture takes a generally light-hearted look at changing attitudes to sexual morality down the ages, by examining the portraits and careers of some of history’s most notorious mistresses and courtesans. It also charts the rather complex and ambiguous attitudes of art and society towards the numerous anonymous working girls at the lower end of the scale, by investigating how they have been represented in art at different times and places from the 17th to the 20th century.

Linda Smith holds two first-class degrees in Art History. Experienced guide and lecturer at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Lectures to secondary school audiences and independent arts societies.


March 7

Gillian Hovell 

A Mediterranean Tour: Not Just a Load of Old StonesGH

Gillian gained a BA (Hons) Latin and Ancient History, Exeter University, and then branched out into archaeology. Ex-BBC, lecturer for British Museum and York University, an award winning writer and author who specialises in relating the ancient world to our modern lives, in person, in the field, on line and in the media (most recently on Radio 4). Publications include Visiting the Past: A guide to finding and understanding Britain's Archaeology and Roman Britain. Forthcoming Latin Yesterday, Today and For Ever, and A Mediterranean Tour: Not just a Load of Old Stones. Teaches adult education courses in Latin, archaeology and ancient history and has publicly lectured widely and passionately, on cruises and tours and for museums such as the British Museum & Ashmolean, national press, universities, literary festivals, and diverse societies including Classical Associations, the U3A and the National Trust. 


April 4

Professor Andrew Hopkins

The Guggenheims: a Dynasty of Art Collectors AH

What other family in the twentieth century managed to amass such extraordinary art collections, and design or purchase such astounding buildings to display their collections? Compared to the Frick and Gulbenkian, individual collections displayed in single museums, the Guggenheim name was transformed in the late twentieth century into a brand, some would say a chain. With celebrated museums in New York, with the flagship Solomon R. Guggenheim landmark on Fifth Avenue, together with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, the family foundation did not stop there. They commissioned the celebrated building by Frank Gehry in Bilbao, which opened in 1997, and which is now considered a masterpiece of modern architecture and design. Other expansion plans have not fared so well, with outposts in Las Vegas and Berlin closing after some years, and new building projects in Vilnius and Helsinki have been abandoned after opposition by residents, who were not persuaded they needed a Guggenheim in their city. This lecture looks at the beginning of both Solomon’s and Peggy’s collections in New York City, with artists they acquired such as Kandinsky and Pollock, and traces the development and expansion of their collections over more than half a century, by which time the Guggenheim name had become synonymous with some of the most inspiring art and museums in the world.

Professor Hopkins was previously Assistant Director of the British School at Rome from 1998 to 2002 and since 2004, Associate Professor at the University of L'Aquila. Part of his PhD (Courtauld Institute 1995) on Venetian architecture was awarded the Essay Medal of 1996 by the Society of Architectural Historians (GB). A Fellow at Harvard University's Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2003-2004, and in 2009 was the Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Amongst his many publications are, with Arnold Witte, Alois Riegl, The Origins of Baroque Art in Rome (2010), and Baldassare Longhena and the Venetian Baroque(Spring 2012). 


May 2

Ian Keable

The Bottle Conjuror: Comedy and Credulity in Georgian England IK

Would you pay money to see a man climb inside a wine bottle? The Little Theatre in the Haymarket was a near sell-out when a newspaper advertisement in1749 claimed that a conjurer would do just that. Unfortunately, although the audience turned up, the performer didn't.  A riot broke out when the spectators realised they had been duped; and the inside of the theatre was smashed up.  The Bottle Conjurer Hoax, as it quickly came known, inspired satirical cartoons through to the 19th century, long after the incident itself was forgotten. William Hogarth even featured it in a painting referencing the Duke of Cumberland, who was one of the victims of the hoax.  This talk throws an entertaining light on 18th century society, with many well-known personalities and powerful men caught up in the amusing incident.  And it finally provides the answer to who was the perpetuator. 

Ian gained a First Class degree from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, qualified as a Chartered Accountant and then became a professional magician. A Member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star. He is currently performing a show about Charles Dickens, who was an amateur conjurer, called The Secret World of Charles Dickens. In 2014 published Charles Dickens Magician: Conjuring in Life, Letters & Literature. Recently he presented a paper Hogarth, Gillray & Cruikshank and the Bottle Conjurer Hoax at a conference at the University of Brighton.


June 6

Mary Alexander

Dazzling Dufy: Invitation to a Luminous  Feast with Raoul DufyMA

Mary has thirty years' experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and a MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London. Experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, visiting lecturer at Christie's Education in London, museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies. She also worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events. Author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills. Lectured for ADFAS Australia and New Zealand in 2011, 2013 and 2016. Mary is an enthusiastic member and President of Glaven Valley DFAS.


September 5


Anne Haworth

Fine as Air and Clear as Water:

Rock Crystal Treasures Through the Ages

Lecturer at the V&A. Guide for private tours of the State Rooms and The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Lecturer in British Painting for American students resident in London. In Autumn 2002, catalogued collection of Chinese porcelain at Kensington Palace. From 2002 to 2005, a committee member of the French Porcelain Society. From 1995 to 2002, was resident in Shanghai, China, visited ancient kiln sites and lectured to expatriate groups. From 1981 to 1995, trained and became a senior ceramics specialist at Christie's and Bonhams head offices.

Rock crystal is the name of a very pure form of quartz, which in ancient times, was believed to be ice which could never melt. Rock crystal was expensive and is particularly difficult to work so the possession of crystal vessels was a prized mark of status and wealth, valued in many different cultures from Byzantium to Moghul India and Renaissance Europe. The lecture follows the story of rock crystal through the Renaissance and Baroque and the vessels worked by Valerio Belli, the Miseroni and the Saracchi families.


October 3

Dr Jonathan Foyle


A Comparison of English Cathedrals

Dr Jonathan Foyle was Chief Executive of World Monuments Fund Britain for eight years, and a Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court for as long, during which time he took his 2002 PhD on reconstructing Wolsey's palace. He is a frequent feature writer for the Financial Times on issues of architecture, history and craft, and is approaching his fourth published cathedral monograph: Canterbury, Lincoln, Lichfield - now Peterborough. A presenter of numerous television series including BBC4's Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer? and BBC2's Climbing Great Buildings, he lectures frequently on a range of art-historical topics. He brings teaching experience as a former Course Director for the University of Cambridge Summer Schools and is an Honorary Professor in Conservation at the University of Lincoln.


November 7

Marilyn Elm

"Less is more" - In the Garden ME

Whilst the Arts and Crafts garden remained a strong tradition, particularly in this country, a new force in art and design was emerging in Europe and America during the twentieth century. This was to revolutionise the whole approach to garden design. It touched these shores briefly in the thirties but was to re-emerge through the Festival of Britain. This talk explores the catalysts for the ‘modernist’ style that has found expression in garden making ever since.

Marilyn Elm is an experienced course leader in garden and landscape design and history, and freelance lecturer for a variety of organisations, universities and specialist groups, including the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society, WEA, U3A and ADFAS. She has run study days, courses and summer schools and conducted garden tours in the UK. As a qualified landscape architect and interior designer, she has been involved with art and design for over thirty years. Passionate about promoting garden history, she has published articles, and broadcast for BBC television and radio, and the Discovery Channel. Member of the Garden Media Guild.


 December 5

Christopher Bradley

Santa Claus: The Art that turns him from St Nicholas into Father Christmas CB


Nicholas was the Greek Bishop of Myra, a 4th century port in Anatolia. Following his death, his legendary generosity established him as the principle gift-giving saint. Also the patron saint of seafarers, his body was stolen by Italian sailors to protect their own ports. Over the centuries the image of St Nicholas changed constantly until the Dutch re-invented him as Sinterklaas. Taking him to their new colonies in America, he transformed into kindly Santa Claus. Later re-imported into Britain without his Catholic baggage, he gradually emerged as Father Christmas - the jovial giver of presents.

Christopher Bradley is an expert in the history and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. As a professional tour guide and lecturer he has led groups throughout the Middle East and Asia. Has written extensively on Arabia and is the author of The Discovery Guide to Yemen, Insight Guide to the Silk Road and Berlitz Guides to Libya; The Red Sea; Cairo; Abu Dhabi and Nile Cruising. As a photographer has pictures represented by four photographic libraries. A broad range of lecturing experience, including to the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of British Architects. As a film producer and cameraman he has made documentaries for the BBC, National Geographic TV and Channel 4.



February 6

At 1.00pm - our AGM! Please be aware that the smooth running of our Society depends on a committee of sufficient size, so we welcome any nominations in advance of the AGM. Please feel free to talk to any member of the committee for further information.

This will be followed, at our normal time, by:

James WrightJames Wright

Historic Graffiti - the Hidden Story of the Hopes, Fears and Desires of a Nation

Modern graffiti is often seen as transgressive and moronic. However, look closely in the light of a torch at the walls of our historic buildings, trees, caves and rockfaces and you will see a world of graffiti left that illuminates the psychology of our ancestors. The study of historic graffiti enables us to hear the lost voices of ordinary individuals through their images of daisywheels, ships sailing across the walls, knights drawing their swords, demons stalking the stonework and every animal imaginable…