New Forest is saddened by the death of Patricia Hallett, our President and Founder.
Patricia founded our society in 1972 and then went on to found several others in the area.  She was elected to the Executive Committee at Head Office and her job was to organise ‘ forthcoming events’ nationally. A lady of enormous energy, she has been President of our society for the last 40 years and her contribution to its growth and popularity  has been considerable, culminating last April in the cutting  of our “Golden Cake’ to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Nadfas as it used to be known.
A Service of Thanksgiving will be held on Friday March 22nd at 2.30pm in Boldre Church. 

Artists and Their Muses – a lecture by Alexandra Epps

Artists and Their Muses – a lecture by Alexandra Epps on October 11th.  2021

“What is a muse ?”  asked Alexandra at the beginning of her lecture – the definition she gave was ‘ a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for an artist. ‘

Alexandra continued  by talking of the complex relationships which exist between artists and their muses, and explained that she would be focussing on 4 of the giants of the art world – giants whose muses were artists in their own right.

She began with


They were founding members of the pre- Raphaelite movement






The Girlhood of Mary Virgin 1848-9 Dante Gabriel Rossetti

This was the first painting in the pre-Raphaelite movement.

The painting of ‘Ophelia ‘ by Millais in 1851 was the painting which made Siddal famous – it also made her ill as she posed lying in cold water. 

The paintings of Elizabeth Siddall by Rossetti epitomised the pre-Raphaelite view with downcast eyes and a brooding expression.


and Alexandra asked us to compare this with Siddall’s self portrait

It shows how disconnected Rossetti was with how they really were.

Siddall became increasingly unwell and when Rossetti finally married her , she had to be carried to the church .

‘Regina Cordium’ painted by Rossetti in 1860 was intended to alay all her fears  with the hearts etc. but she still looks ill.

Rossetti was still painting his other mistresses and they were looking very sensuous and seductive as in Bocca Baciata painted in 1859


In ‘Beata Beatrix,’  Elizabeth looks so ill and she takes her own life with an overdose of opium. In the picture you can see a red dove giving her a poppy –  the source of her death.


However in spite of all this, the face of Jane Morris  ( the wife of William Morris) was the face that Rossetti was besotted with – seen here in his painting in 1868 – ‘The Blue Silk Dress’


The next artist and their muse that Alexandra then introduced us to was









This was a relationship which was the making of Claudel but also it was her destruction. Like other muses they are defined by the mythology that surrounded them.

Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Kiss’ show the story of universal love, although actually it is adultery

Claudel had been brought to Paris by her family because she had shown such promise. She became a student of Rodin and her beauty and skill impressed him immediately. She soon became his model (Rodin like to use inexperienced models)

Danaid by Rodin 1989

Rodin and Claudel had such a strong relationship – they were pushing and challenging each other constantly

‘Aurora’ sculpted in 1885 shows a beautiful face emerging from rough rock

Claudel’s sculpture of Rodin (1888)


‘The Eternal Idol’ by Rodin demonstrates how they were wallowing in eroticism which is in a complete comparison to ‘The Waltz’ which is full of gentle movement .

Rodin was living with his partner Rose Mignon but was constantly promising Claudel that he would leave her but he never did. In the end Claudel decided that she must go.

The two sculptures that this created show the eternal triangle with  Rodin’s “The Farewell’ in 1898

and ‘Age of Maturity’ by Claudel in 1899


Claudel became a recluse and her brother organised for her to go into a mental hospital.

Rodin’s sculpture  ‘The Sculptor and His Muse ‘ sums up the intensity of his feelings.


The third artist and muse that alexander introduced us to was


Maar was a young French photographer and the relationship between the two changed both their lives..

Dora Maar “with Green Fingernails’


Maar and Picasso met in a cafe and Picasso was watching Maar do performance art by jabbing at her gloved hand with a knife.

Picasso became obsessed with her and says she was everything and in everything – a bird, a dog, an idea …….everything.

Picasso had said that his lovers were a constant source of ‘endless inspiration’ and his painting ‘ Nude, Green leaves and Bust’ 1932  shows another of his lovers, Marie-Therese –  his young secret lover.

He would paint both women , sometimes on the same day. Dora became his public lover but she was very highly strung and is seen smiling in only 2 of the paintings.

Dora Maar Seated by Picasso

Dora, for her part, introduced Picasso to many photographic techniques. She photographed the creation of ‘Guernica’

Marie Therese came to the studio and the two ladies had a fight about who was the most important. Picasso’s painting of the situation between his two lovers  “The Conversation’ shows only the back view of Maar which could be his view of the two ladies.

and for his painting ‘The Weeping Woman ” (1937) he uses Dora as his model

However by 1942 Picasso’s painting of Maar as ‘Woman in a Satin Bodice” clearly shows he was no longer in love with her.

Dora had a nervous breakdown when the relationship was over and though they still exchanged gifts they were unkind unpleasant gifts.

The final pair that Alexandra told us about gave us a more positive and cheerful view of Artists and their muses.


Stieglitz was one of the first to elevate photography to a fine art.

‘Winter in Fifth Avenue’ – photograph by Stieglitz

O’Keefe was an artist and Stieglitz used O’Keefe’s work in his exhibition and she was very angry and contacted him and the relationship began from there.

Though he photographed O’Keefe 350 times he could never see who she really was.

They then both work on the theme of clouds to celebrate their love and subsequent marriage.



‘Pink Tulips’ by O’Keefe seems to have sexual undertones

and ‘Radiator Building’  Stieglitz and by O’Keefe


They often both worked on the same projects.

O’Keefe then moved away to New Mexico and didn’t come back, having become famous in her own right. For the rest of their relationship their love was exchanged in letters only.


Alexandra then closed this really interesting lecture with

‘The sky is the limit for where an artist seeks inspiration “

Twentieth Century Sculpture – a lecture by Linda Smith

Twentieth Century Sculpture – Linda Smith – 13/9/21

The lecture traced the development of sculpture in the twentieth century from a large lump of marble at one end to an object transformed by putting it into an art gallery.

Linda began by explaining the respect for the classical with  Rodin’s The Kiss ( 1901-04) ie oversized marble, idealised  and naked and which was carved by stonemasons in his studio. By contrast Constantin Brancusi’s ‘The Kiss’ was a direct carving (1907-8), the first modern sculpture of the twentieth century and the star of Modernism. The qualities of these sculptures are that they display naturalism, eroticism and have a febrile physicality and energy.  In addition there was a truth to the materials, taking care to retain the sense of a block of stone.

Constantin Brancusi “The Kiss”

An  interest in the primitive ( primitivism) at this time refers to the arts and cultures coming out of non- westernized parts of the world – eg Gaugin in the South Seas and Modigliani’s Head ( c/f African masks on heads on Easter Island)

Jacob Epstein 1913 Figure in Flenite in the style of expressionism.

Picasso’s Head of a woman 1906 and 1909 with pronounced ridges and veins relates to the invention of cubism and revolutionized how shape is related on a flat surface

His Guitars 1912 and 1914 revolutionised the language of sculpture.

Picasso – Guitar with African Grebo Mask

Next came assemblage /bricolage and Brach invented collage. Up to then still life was a painting. Avant-Garde and Futurism and Vorticism followed on. Epstein’s ‘The Rock Drill’ 1913 like a life sized phallic symbol indicating progeny of the future with reference to the war and trenches and what mankind does with advanced technology. In 1913 he got rid of the drill and hands and cast it in bronze – this was an audacious thing to do in British art.


Jacob Epstein ‘The Rock Drill 1913

Jacob Epstein Torso in metal from The Rock Drill 1913-16

Marcel Duchamp followed with the ‘Bicycle Wheel ‘and ‘Bottle Rack’ 1914 and so began Conceptual art – where the ideas are more important than the artist/ materials.

It begs the question ‘What is Art’ – is it because the artist says so or because it is in an art gallery. Oscar Wilde and Balsac had their own ideas.

Marcel Duchamp –Fountain 1917

Dada arose out of the extreme reaction to the horrors of the First World War, then came Modernism, Bolshevism, Constructivism, Surrealism and Abstraction.

Barbara Hepworth emerged with her ideas all about forms (‘Three Forms’ 1935) and her husband Ben Nicholson (‘White relief ‘1935) was an internationalist ie using the universal language of art.

Barbara Hepworth – Three Forms 1935

Ben Nicholson – White Relief 1935

Salvador Dali – Lobster Telephone 1936


European emigres produced works from the twenties to the fifties when David Smith worked in welded art, abstract sculpture  – eg Agricola 1X 1952. and Australia 1951

David Smith – Australia 1951

Piero Manzoni’s 1961 provocative ‘Tin Can’ contained 30 gms of the artist’s excrement – a joke at the expense of the art world – which said that anything an artist touches can be turned into gold. Tin cans don’t actually contain what they say they do – but does it matter?

Piero Manzoni – Merda de Artista 1961

Pop art emerged – Peter Blake ( ‘The Toy Shop’1962) is nostalgic and Andy Warhol (‘Brillo Box ‘1964), 3 dimensional and made out of plywood  illustrated the language of selling.

Peter Blake – The Toy Shop 1962

Andy Warhol- Brillo Box 1964

Minimalism ( Donald Judd ‘Stacks’ 1967,1968, ) is where the effect comes from the materials used. Jeff Koons’ 1988 ‘Michael Jackson and Bubbles’ in porcelain says that art can be made of anything. Trashy souvenirs were sold at that time, life sized and ghastly, they were ‘Kitsch’.

Jeff Koons – Michael Jackson and Bubbles 1988

However Olafur Eliason’s  ‘The Weather Project’ in the Turbine Hall in 2003-4 was an installation that the public loved.

Olafur Eliasson – The Weather Project 2003-4

Rachel Whiteread’s  ‘ Vienna Holocaust Memorial ‘-  and ‘Library ‘(1999) were colour leached and stripey.

Rachael Whiteread – Holocast Memorial, Vienna1998-2000

Rachael Whiteread – Untitled (library) 1999

Fiona Banner ( ‘Harrier and Jaguar ‘ 2010) says that she finds the objects beautiful – because they are designed to perform a job, even though they are jets designed to kill. That we find them beautiful brings into question the very notion of beauty but also our own intellectual and moral position. She is interested in that clash between what we feel and what we think.

Fiona Banner – Harrier and Jaguar 2010

Art can be baffling but Linda ended her beautifully illustrated mammoth lecture by asking the question ‘Does it interest me to find out more?’ If it doesn’t interest you – move on. No work of art will appeal to everybody in the same way.

TASNF Graduated Return to Brockenhurst Village Hall on 11th of October 2021

Dear Members,
I am happy to report that the practice session in the Hall on September 13th (projecting the Zoomed lecture onto the screen), was successful.

Alexandra Epps has asked to Zoom her lecture ‘Inspiration-Artists and their Muses’, into people’s homes, she will not be at the Hall.

The Committee is delighted to be able to invite Members to watch the PROJECTED Zoomed lecture in Brockenhurst Village Hall.

If you would like to attend, please either email  or notify the Membership Secretary, no later than September 30th, so that we have an idea of numbers. No visitors to this lecture, please.

Arrival time:
Members are invited to arrive at 10.15am.

There will be no refreshments, this time, but do feel free to bring your own.

Masks and Registration:
Please wear a mask when entering the Hall and register at one of the two desks, manned by four committee members. The Hall will be operating a ‘Test and Trace’ system.  Then go directly to your seat. The Hall are happy for you to remove your mask, once you are sitting downbut please use your mask when moving around and visiting the toilets.

When you sit down, feel free to choose where you sit, who you sit with, or whether you wish to maintain social distancing by leaving an empty chair between you and your neighbour. (We would ask you to respect other Members’ choices).

The doors and windows will be open.  Wrap up warmly.

The November lecture is ‘Caravaggio: The Master of Light and Sound’ by Shirley Smith.  She will be using Zoom.

If you have any questions, please do contact anyone on the committee.

Best wishes on behalf of the Committee,
Diana Heatly, Chairman

Special Interest day !st November – Goya


2 one-hour lectures from 10.30 – 11.30 am and 11.50 am – 12.50 pm
followed by a short session for questions.

GOYA by Dr Jacqueline Cockburn

The study morning will focus on this extraordinarily versatile and fascinating artist.  Dr. Cockburn will consider Goya’s self-portraiture, his rise to Court Painter and his response to historical events, and his ongoing health problems, and the decision to leave Spain.  The second session will assess Goya’s appropriation of previous painters such as Valazquez and some of the great masters of Spanish Still Life such as Zurbaran.  It will be argued that Goya’s reassessment of the past is precisely what makes him so modern.

Although life has returned to some normality, Covid has not gone away, and so the decision was made to zoom this Special Interest day, once again.
The cost of the session will be £12.50 per person, payable either by cheque to The Arts Society New Forest and sent to Sue Randall, Bracken Lodge, Butts Paddock, Meerut Road, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TD,  or by bank transfer, The Arts Society New Forest, sort code 40-34-25, account number 91524895, with your name as a reference to secure your place.  Please pay by 15th October.

19th October to 23rd December 2021

Pepe Martinez is a London Blue Badge* Tourist Guide. He and several of his Blue Badge colleagues are offering a new season of twenty ‘Virtual Tours’ on Zoom, starting on Tuesday 19th October.  The tours will take place on Tuesdays at 10.30am and on Thursdays at 2pm. They will last a little over an hour, with time for questions afterwards. The sessions last a maximum of 90 minutes. As usual, recordings will be available. The guides film what they see as they walk and also use photographs. (Bear in mind that, as tourist guides, they are used to talking to groups which include people who may not know England well.)
NOTE: Links to the tours will be sent each Thursday afternoon for the following week, together with the links to recordings of the current week’s live tours. The recordings will remain available until the end of January 2022.

*The Blue Badge is the highest qualification attainable for tourist guiding in Britain. Students have a two-year training which includes four written and seven practical exams. All the guides have completed a Virtual Tours training which has been approved by the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

19th October: Putting on the Ritz – London’s Luxury Hotels
21st October: More Lost Palaces of London
26th October:  Love and Lovers of the Ancient World
28th October:  Bohemians in Bloomsbury
2nd November: Guy Fawkes – Son of York
4th November: Remember Remember the 5th of November
9th November:  The Queen’s Diamonds
11th November:  The Final Journey of the Unknown Warrior
16th November:  The Wonders of The Wallace Collection
18th November:  Shakespeare’s Stratford    
23rd November: London and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
25th November: (to be confirmed)
30th November:  Elizabethan Artists in the City
2nd December:  Hampstead Garden Suburb
7th December:  The Wonderful City of Bath
9th December:  Thackeray and Trollope in London
14th December:  The History of Broadcasting in London
16th Dec ember: Breaking the Coade – The Story of the Coade Stone
21st December: By Royal Appointment – The Story of the Royal Warrant
23rd December: Banksy – Fraud or Genius

Existing Members:
One Viewer – £40
Two Viewers – £55 (same household)
One Viewer – £50
Two Viewers – £65 (same household)

Control + click on the link below and use red button “Buy Membership of Season Three here” (choice will be given for both Non-Members and Existing Members). NB Also note “Click HERE for frequently asked questions” and at bottom of the page “Contact the event organizer”.


Photography As Fine Art

Photography As Fine Art – a lecture by Brian Slater

Brian introduced his lecture by telling us that Britain is the most photographed country in the world. We are bombarded with photographs every day. He asked the question ‘Can the very best photographs be regarded as fine art? ‘ It was a question he was planning to answer in the lecture.

In Britain he told us it is still very confusing. David Bailey is quoted as saying ” The British don’t understand photography and don’t give it the space it deserves.”

The Oxford dictionary says photography is not art but a montage using photographs is Art.

A series of articles in the Times written by their art journalist ‘Rachel Campbell Johnson’ looked at the 20 best art examples and neither photography nor sculpture was included in any of the categories.

Brian said he would address each of the categories used by Rachel .

He described a good photographer as ‘knowing when not to press the shutter. ‘

He gave us two definitions of Art. The first by Longfellow ‘Nature is a revelation of God. Art is a revelation of man” The other was from the Concise Oxford Dictionary ” Fine Arts are those appealing to our mind and to our sense of beauty’  Brian said that he would be using these quotes to consider photographs.

Brian began with the category of Portraits

The first photograph he showed us was Arnold Newman’s photograph of Stravinsky.

He showed how this was a beautiful example of pure black and white with tones between, and how contrary to most portraits, Newman has placed his subject to the side.

Brian’s next example was another photograph by Newman of Moses (the developer and planner of Manhattan )

which has the same sense of unorthodox composition – opening up the vista behind and moving Moses to the right with a stance similar to that of Holbein’s Henry viii.

He showed a photograph by Robert Doisneau of Picasso and pointed out that the humour in this would not work as a painting.

in Newman’s photograph of Picasso he has the subject off centre again and through the rooms  can  be seen  the paintings  by  Picasso

Brian then showed us a photograph by Anita Corbin of betty Boothroyd which is in a collection in the national gallery. Colour is so important in this photograph as it speaks of power and charm.

Brian compared it to a painting of Betty and asked us which we felt had the greater impact.

The next photograph he showed was the very famous ‘Girl with Green Eyes’ by Steve McCurry showing a the image of a  refugee in Afghanistan

The next category Brian addressed was Landscapes and began with Ansel Adams’ photograph of Yosemite  – explorations of perfection in the American Wilderness.

Adams would reduce all blemishes and create a crystal clear photo. He wanted to show a portrait of innocence unsullied by man and denying the activity of man. However the irony of this was that as a result of seeing these photographs people went in hoards to visit these places. !!

Brian compared the work of Adams the that of Bill Brandt who also explored the wilderness ( this time of Skye) but Brandt’s ethos is not to include every rock tree etc but to  simplify the scene.

He also showed us Brandt’s photograph of Cuckmere River which has the same ethos of simplification and reduced to its elements. He also showed man’s contribution with the two buildings.

Brian concluded this category with Andreas Gursky’s ‘Solar Panels in Provence in which he explores the distopia of what we are doing with our landscape.

The next category was Still Life and Brian went back to the work of Ansel Adams with his photograph of the Leaf  where again Adams is intent on showing us every minute detail and then compared it to the work of Ernst Haas  ‘Leaf in a Puddle’

Ernst began to work in colour in the 50s at a time when it was considered vulgar

.The final two photographs in this category were both by Haas  and were both very beautiful – Tulips

and Bowl of Flowers

In the category The Human Condition Brian began with Martin  Parr’s  photograph  of Hebden  Bridge  in the 70s

a photograph which is full of understanding and compassion.

The simplicity in Clarissa Leahy’s – ‘Francis’ Reflection in Water ‘is part of its elegance and shows a world reduced to its elements – sky/water/land. with a girl on the threshold of her life.

Andreas Gursky’s ’99 Cents in 1919 explores that which we think benevolent but which has a dark side. – the poverty of affluence.

Brian discussed in detail the photograph by Henri Cartier Breson ‘ Wall St.’ showing the rhythm between the strong upright pillars and the brokers in front; the guy on the steps – is he really a pillar ? he also showed how the photograph has been so cleverly split with the one third line coming directly through the man at the top of the steps.

Another of Cartier Breson’s works ‘ Trafalgar Square ‘shows the tolerance between conformity and non conformity.

and his ‘Provence 1999

seems to show the end of the day with the shadows of the setting sun on the trees and Bresson himself and his awareness that he was also close to the end of his life.

In  the final category – Narrative he showed Herbert Mason’s photograph of St. Paul’s 1940 which showed Britain alone and defiant . Churchill asked for it to be published in America to engender support.

Stuart Franklin’s photograph of Tiananmen Square shows the bravery of the individual

Brian closed this fascinating lecture with the photograph by Larry burrows of Vietnam where optimism was cutting through cultural taboos.

After this  lecture  I don’t think many of us were in any doubt that Brian had presented  his case admirable and we were left in no doubt the photography is indeed a Fine Art. Thank you to Brian for opening our eyes and sharing with us such beautiful and thought provoking images

Everything is Art, Art is Everything. – Ai Weiwei

Everything is Art, Art is Everything. – Ai Weiwei.  -a lecture by Frank Woodgate

Frank returned to the New Forest for the fifth time to lecture us on Ai Weiwei, artist and activist.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 and was raised in the Gobi Desert under harsh conditions. His poet father Ai Qing was exiled there for sixteen years for his left-wing views.

In 1978, Weiwei enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy. And became interested in Western Art and belonged to an avant garde group called ‘The Stars’. Some of his colleagues were imprisoned as western spies.

Weiwei went to the USA in 1981 and learned English. He moved to New York in 1983. He dropped out of school and made a living from his drawings and menial jobs.

Ai Weiwei gave up painting in his 20’s and became interested in conceptual art, influenced by Jasper John, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.

1. ‘Untitled’ 1983, which represents despair.

2. ‘Self-portrait in profile’


3. ‘Hanging Man.’ Homage to Duchamp.

4. ‘According to What’ travelling exhibition put on by University. Homage to Jasper Johns (1964)

5. ‘Mao 1,2,3.’ Homage to Andy Warhol. (1985)


“Ready Mades”: ‘I am an artist, and I chose them.’ Some were controversial.

6. Violin (1985) Two items which don’t work: violin can’t be played, and spade handle useless.

7. ‘5 Raincoats holding up a star’ this is a play on the stars in the Chinese flag.

8. ‘Safe Sex ‘(1986) Thick sou’wester with condom

9. ‘One man shoe’ (1987), which can’t be worn. Weiwei made the brogue himself, had learned how to fix shoes during his youth.

10. ‘Chateau Lafite’ (1988) Play on words.

Weiwei returned to China in 1993 to visit his sick father. He produced art works that were controversial:

11.Below is an early work that possess Ai’s characteristic mix of hard edged critique, bravery and humour is this untitled photograph taken of his soon to be wife Lu Qing in Tiananmen Sqyare lifting her skirt up to the camera on the fifth anniversary of the 1989 massacre.

12. ‘Study of perspective’ (1995), middle finger extended in front of a picture of the Eiffel Tower, he did several more in different locations including China.

13. ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’ (1995), this was in a series of three photos to demonstrate how appalled he was by the destruction of China’s ancient culture. The vase was his own and the photos cost more than the cost of the urn now!

In 2014, Weiwei had an exhibition in Miami. A local artist protested by smashing one of the vases on display. The problem was it was not his own!

In 1999, Weiwei set up an architects studio called ‘Fake Design’, which has produced 40 buildings worldwide. He produced three books about Western art, which were circulated secretly.

14. ‘Coca Cola Vase’ (1997) – ubiquity of American brands.

15. ‘The Wave’ (2005) Weiwei’s version of Hokusai’s ‘Wave’ (1823).

16. ‘Pillars’ (2006)

17. ‘Oil Spills’ (2006) : Puddles were made out of porcelain and ‘alludes to the noxious environmental pollution caused by human activities at sea’.

18. ‘Ruyi’ (2012) Talking stick.

Weiwei made some pieces around metaphors using furniture:

19. ‘Table with 2 legs on the wall’ (1997) – inaccessible.

20. ‘Table and Beam’ (2007) representing oppression of state over proletariat.

21. ‘Tree’ displayed at the RA in 2009/10, different parts of the tree make a nation.

22. ‘China Log’ (2005) consisting of pillars from disused Chinese temples. It contains a map of China.

23. ‘Untitled’ (2006) This relates to the drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci on peace and harmony.

24. ‘Descending Light’ (2007). A vast red chandelier on the ground. In the film ‘ October’(1928) a chandelier vibrates representing Revolution.

He continued in this vein with ‘Fountain of Light’ (2007) and Cube Light ‘(2008)

25. ‘Marble Arm’ (2006)

26. ‘Marble Door’(2007) there is no handle on the door, it symbolises being trapped in a totalitarian state.

27. Junkyard (2006) The doors represent the a massive nation with the individual (a door) versus the state.

28. ‘Template’ (2007) At first, it was a standing sculpture, an octagonal standing snowflake shape made of cascading Chinese antique doors and windows. A windstorm blew the sculpture over and for some time, it rested that way outside. Weiwei decided to retain the collapsed form. It represented his uneasy relationship with his country.

A live Artwork: ‘Fairytale’ (2008) Weiwei invited 1001 Chinese to Kassel Germany to take part, (he helped with passports).

In 2008, there was an earthquake in Sichuan, which caused multiple deaths (90k). A contributory factor was the modern buildings not designed to withstand earthquakes(jerrybuilding). The older buildings remained in situ.

Weiwei interviewed the local people. At this time China had a policy of one child per family. He drew up lists of the names of those who died. He produced a live artwork called ‘Remembering’ (2009) which consisted of 9k school rucksacks and another ‘Snake Ceiling’.The authorities were not pleased. He got beaten up by the police resulting in a brain injury. His brain was operated on later in Germany.

In 2009, renowned artist Ai Weiwei published an image of himself nude with only a ‘Caonima’ hiding his genitals, with a caption (“cǎonímǎ dǎng zhōngyāng”, literally “a Grass Mud Horse covering the center”). An interpretation of the caption was deemed offensive to the government.

Weiwei was placed under House Arrest in Beijing in 2011 for 81 days on trumped up tax charges. There were protests from all round the world. Donations were sent to him to offset the alleged debt. He hung a traditional lantern on the surveillance cameras outside his home.

29. ‘Sunflower Seeds’ (2010) This was exhibited in Tate Modern Turbo Hall but had to be closed after the first day. The sunflower seeds were made of painted ceramic, which unfortunately produced carcinogenic fumes when crushed. He built a studio in 2011, which was pulled down after his arrest.

30. ‘He Xie’ (2010) means harmonious but infers internet censorship.

In July 2015, Ai Weiwei was allowed to travel abroad. He produced an art exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Napoleon and His Artists

Napoleon and His Artists – a lecture by Barry Venning

This thought-provoking and informative lecture by Barry Venning had been particularly chosen by our lecture secretary as last Wednesday was the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death on St. Helena.

Barry took us on a journey through Napoleon’s career through the work of artists, many of whom were chosen and directed by Napoleon for propaganda purposes. In fact, as Barry told us, Napoleon was the first leader to use visual arts for this purpose. As Anne-Louis Girodet ( whose painting below is of Napoleon’s father ) said ‘We were all enlisted but not all wore the uniform’

Napoleon’s father was Louis XVI ‘s representative in Corsica and Napoleon grew up speaking Italian.

This portrait by Robert Lefevre shows Dominique Vivant Denon who became Napoleon’s spin doctor’ .

The portrait by Louis Charles Auguste Couder shows Napoleon visiting the Louvre. In fact the Louvre was built to house all the objects that Napoleon had ‘acquired’ during his campaigns. Barry told us the if it wasn’t bolted down Napoleon took it !!

Napoleon won his first battle at Lodi and the drawing below celebrates this moment and is by Bacler D’Albe who became Napoleon’s cartographer.

Napoleon hated sitting for portraits but Appiana managed to paint this portrait of Napoleon in 1796

The paintings commissioned by Napoleon didn’t always correspond to reality or likeness, for example the painting by Baron Gros of Napoleon after his second victory at the Bridge at Arcola shows him bearing the standard but in fact he had slipped as he began to cross the bridge and was very muddy and therefore someone else was appointed to carry the standard !

The British now are starting to see Naploleon as a fascination but also as a danger as depicted in this cartoon by Cruickshank

Napoleon couldn’t invade Britain because of Nelson so he decided to invade Egypt to cut off the British link. One of the items stolen was the Rosetta Stone which in fact was finally brought to Britain by the British.

There were then two disasters – one was the slaughter of all the people who had surrendered and the other was an outbreak of the plague amongst the troops and his orders to kill all the infected troops. Napoleon commissioned a propaganda painting by Baron Gros (1804) of Napoleon visiting the sick in the Plague Hospital designed to make the French forget the two disasters.

Vivant had said exactly what should be in the picture and rather than showing Napoleon carrying a patient ( which is what happened ) Napoleon is seen touching a stricken man suggesting a likeness to Christ healing the sick. This was an engraving and hundreds of copies were made and circulated around France. Some of the troops were captured by the British and recounted what actually had happened.

Josephine introduced Napoleon to many artists including Antonio Canova who was the greatest artist of the time.

In 1799 Napoleon left most of his troops in Egypt and returned to France to stage a coup to become the First Consul, as shown in this painting by Baron Gros in 1802

Barry pointed out the  interesting details – for example Napoleon pointing to a sheet of paper on which are written the names of treaties and battles he had won and underneath is the battle plan for the Battle of Morengo – known as Napoleon’s greatest achievement.

In 1800 Napoleon crossed the Alps to surprise the Austrians who had taken parts of Italy. the David painting shows a very heroic Napoleon but has no link with reality. Barry pointed out the names on the rocks – names of earlier heroes.. Apparently the instruction from Napoleon was ‘Just show me calm , on a fiery steed.’

The famous artist Canovo did not follow instructions from Napoleon with his sculpture ” Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker” and Napoleon was not pleased to be depicted in the nude and with a body far better than the reality!

By this time much memorabilia was being made in Britain to allow people to express what they thought of `Napoleon!!

By now Napoleon was not being successful yet as Barry demonstrated, the propaganda paintings were there, as in this painting by baron Gros of ‘The Aftermath at the Battle of Eylau” A battle which really neither side won but strict instructions were given that it should show napoleon walking across the battlefield with the enemy reaching out to kiss his uniform, and wounded enemy soldiers being tended by the French.

In 1804 napoleon crowned himself Emperor as shown in this painting by Gerard

and in 1812 David painted a picture of Napoleon in his Study where he is shown as a man working for French civil society. Barry pointed out various details to show how hard Napoleon was working-  the ruffled carpet that indicated the Napoleon had just stood up, the candle and the clock indicating that he was working through the night and the document to show he was working on the Napoleonic code.

By 1814 Napoleon had lost many battles and was forced to abdicate-shown in this painting by Delaroche  ‘Napoleon at Fontenbleau 1814

and in Britain the cartoonists had a great time as this Wilkie cartoon shows of ‘Chelsea pensioners receiving the news after Waterloo.’

Napoleon was taken to Plymouth and everyone was eager to see him as Chalon showed in his painting ‘Scene in Plymouth”

Locke Eastalake painted Napoleon on the ship Belaphron bringing him to Plymouth from a genuine sketch he had made.

Barry concluded this lecture with the painting of the death of Napoleon by  Isabey   

Barry told us that the French were still divided about Napoleon , however those of us who had listened to his excellent lecture were certainly united in our appreciation of  the knowledge that we had gained about Napoleon’s use of artists of the time. Something that I certainly had had no previous idea about. Thank you Barry for a most enjoyable morning.

News from the Art World

FROM THE ARTS WORLD April to May 2021


Virtual Tour of the Mauritshuis, The Hague (1:00:00) (10.30 am Wed 21st April)
NOTE: Tickets £5. Organized by The Arts Society South Downs. 
For further information email or telephone 01798 815824 or  click on  and click on ‘MAURITSHUIS TOUR’ for Booking Form.
The Mauritshuis in The Hague is home to a world-renowned collection of the very best of Dutch painting of the 17th century, including works by Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and Hans Holbein the Younger. The ‘tour’ guide will be Jane Choy-Thurlow, an Arts Society-accredited lecturer who lives in The Hague. In 2018, she was given the honour of the Knight of the Order of Oranje Nassau by the Dutch King Willem Alexander of Orange for her knowledge and work in the field of the arts.

A Virtual Walk in Khiva in Uzbekistan (10.30 am Fri 30th April)
NOTE: Tickets £5. Organized by the Arts Society Thames. Tickets: Email
The old Khiva oasis in Uzbekistan, between the Red Sands and the Black Sands. was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Iran. Its inner walled city, Ichan Kala, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. It is a well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. A local guide called Jalaladdin will give a tour round his home city, with a commentary by Arts Society lecturer Christopher Aslan Alexander, who lived with Jalaladdin’s family for seven years and subsequently wrote ‘A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road’.

A Stroll around Tate Britain: Absolute Monarch to Civil War 1540-1650 (11 am Tues 20th April)
NOTE: Please would you make a donation of £5 either by bank transfer to sort code 40-38-18, account 31024191 (using the reference ‘Shaf’) or by cheque payable to The Arts Society Richmond at 238 St Margaret’s Road, Twickenham TW1 1NL.
Zoom link:
YouTube link:
Dr Laurence Shafe has a doctorate in nineteenth-century British art from the University of Bristol, a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute and a degree in art and architecture from Birkbeck College. He will talk about paintings in Tate Britain, starting with Henry VIII and the Reformation and ending with Charles I and his art collecting.


Painters in their Places, Scotland: The Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists (2 pm Thurs 22nd / 2 pm Thurs 29th April)
NOTE: £14. Click on link to find Ashmolean online events and scroll down page. Choose number of tickets and scroll down again to blue box ADD TO BASKET. (NB The links for both events will be sent on the day of the first lecture.)
Two-part course. The art historian Alice Foster will study the works of the ‘Glasgow Boys’, James Guthrie and his friends, who began a new, modern era in Scottish painting and the ‘Scottish Colourists’, John Peploe and his fellow painters, who were bold pioneers in the fields of rich colour and strong light.

‘Noli me Tangere‘ (7 pm Thurs 22nd April)
NOTE: £5 Click on link for more details and then click on ‘Buy Tickets’:
Noli me Tangere by Graham Sutherland l 60 year anniversary
The Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral, The Reverend Canon Daniel Inman and Director of Pallant House Gallery, Simon Martin, will explore the painting’s significance. 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the work by Graham Sutherland, commissioned by Walter Hussey when he was Dean of Chichester Cathedral. It portrays the moment when Mary Magdalene discovers the tomb of Christ lying empty and on encountering Christ resurrected, mistakes him for a gardener. (The talk will also be recorded and the link made available a few days after the event.)

The 10th Century Umayyad of Cordoba: The Ornament of the World (1:30:00) (10 am Fri 23rd April / Fri 7th May)
NOTE: £20. Organized by The Arts Society North Kent. Payable by cheque or bank transfer. Book a place by email or by telephone 020 8460 4368. For more details click on link below:
Two-part course: two one-and-a-half hour lectures given by Ian Cockburn. (NB the second lecture will be in two weeks’ time on Friday 7th May at 10 am.) Ian is a specialist in the nearly 800 years of Moorish occupation and Christian reconquest of medieval Iberia. Under the Umayyad Caliphate, Cordoba was widely recognized as the wealthiest and most culturally advanced city in Western Europe at the time. The course will explore the extraordinary city through its material culture – its architecture, ivories and silk textiles in particular (NB There will be a short break half way through each lecture.)

William Hogarth: Harlots, Rakes and Crashing China – Hogarth’s Pots (8 pm Tues 4th May)
NOTE: Tickets £5. Please would you make a donation either by a bank transfer to Sort Code: 40-38-18, Account No. 31024191  (using the reference ‘Lars’) or by cheque payable to The Arts Society Richmond at 238 St Margaret’s Road, Twickenham TW1 1NL.
Zoom link :
YouTube link:
Danish-born British historian, broadcaster and lecturer, Lars Tharp discusses the pots, crocks and chinaware which tumble through the domestic dramas of William Hogarth. His detailed paintings and prints are wittily infiltrated with recognizable ceramics – earthenware, stoneware and china – in an age drunk on luxury.


PALLANT HOUSE, Chichester (opening on Tuesday 18th May 2021 subject to Covid-19 restrictions)
NOTE: Booking opens 5th May, Friends 1st May. (Scroll down the page to see key works in the exhibition.)
Degas to Picasso – International Modern Masters (Tues 18th May until Sun 13th June)
In the late 19th and 20th century, European artists challenged all aspects of the creative process, reflecting the tumultuous times in which they were living. The exhibition features stunning prints by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse; abstract works by Paul Klee, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages; and portraits by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Georges Roualt, Käthe Kollwitz and Marie Laurencin. It will also be the first chance to see Édouard Vuillard’s  ‘Modèle assise dans un fauteuil, se coiffant’ (c. 1903) after its recent careful conservation.

Bhutan – Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan – Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon.    – a lecture by Zara Fletcher

Zara began her fascinating lecture by introducing  Bhutan to us as it was 60 years ago when there were no roads, no towns and no currency,(the only currency being textiles) and how, though there have been such big developments in all these areas in the last 60 years they have still managed to hold on to their cultural inheritance.

Zara then introduced us to the three key  figures in Bhutan’s history  who have been responsible for shaping the country as it is today.

The first was Padmasambhava

the second was Nawang Namgul

and the third –  the 4th king – Jigme Wangchuk

Bhutan, she told us is a small country the size of Switzerland but with a population of only 80.000. It has Tibet to the north and India to the south. It is divided into 3 different landscapes – in the north are the Himalaya, in the centre are terraced fields and this is where most of the population live  and in the south the land is very fertile and there are a few industries.

The country is home to a wealth of flora and fauna . The national animal of Bhutan is a takin – a rather strange looking creature


There is also great ethnic diversity in Bhutan – speaking 23 different languages , though the main one is English.

The earlier  religion in Bhutan was based on nature.  Budhism was introduced in the 6th. century  with its goal to eliminate suffering and attain enlightenment. The wheel of life is divided into 6 sections into which you can be reborn –  gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hells.

When Budhism arrived in Bhutan art – in the form of murals, paintings or sculptures, was used to enlighten the people as most of them were illiterate. They work as a focus of faith and therefore had to be drawn following strict codes. For example the hand gestures would convey different meanings.Once these works were completed they would be consecrated with prayer.

At the centre of their beliefs is Avalokitesvara – the earthly manifestation of Buddha and shows compassion with many heads to see the suffering and many hands to comfort.

Shabdrung (1594-1651) brought peace and unification to Bhutan.He built dzongs across the country which were both religious and secular centres and are still in use today.


During the 17th  century Tibet made many attacks on Bhutan so Shabdrung  instigated codes of behaviour including dress and etiquette to create a difference between Bhutan and Tibet. It was known as the Driglam Namzha code and included such rules as the colour of the scarf (The Kabney) which must be worn indicating status, with yellow indicating the highest status

The women wear a kira with horizontal stripes

and the men wear vertical stripes – the Gho

He also set up the Zorig Chusum which comprised 13 Arts and Crafts  which are symbolic and represent certain principles of Budhism – including weaving, sculpture and dance.

Creating Tashigomang – portable shrines. They  are  part of the Zorig Chusum and were  temples which consecrated and blessed the land around them and were resting places.

Another element was Jimzo – sculpting – as seen in this mask

and Shingzo – carpentry – shown on this building

One very important piece of art are the Thongdrels or banners which were rolled down at festivals before sunrise ( so they would not be damaged by the sun ) and would be touched by the heads of worshippers.

When Shabdrung died they kept his death secret for 50 years partly to maintain the unity of the country  but also because they were waiting to see the reincarnation. Much of what Bhutan is today is as a result of  Shabbdrung’s work.

In 1774 Britain sent a trade mission to Bhutan , which was rather inaccurately recorded in a painting by Tilly Kettle


At the end of the 19th century Bhutan was racked by civil war and the British suggested the idea of monarchy. Ugyen Wangchuk became the first king , reigning from 1907-26 and he restored peace and stability. In the picture he is shown wearing   the  raven  crown.

The raven is the national bird of Bhutan and at one time it was illegal to kill one. The raven represents the form of Mahakala – Bhutan’s guardian deity

The third king implemented his father’s dying wish and moved the capital to Thimphu as it was suitable for all year round living.

He was succeeded by his son – the fourth king – Jigme Wangchuk who developed the policy – ‘One Nation one Principal ‘ Wangchuck stated that it is the “distinct identity of our country”, and not the nation’s “wealth, weapons and armed forces”, that is the vital instrument in securing the sovereignty of the nation.  He said that everyone should wear national dress and speak their language.  As a result of this many of the Nepalese who had moved into Bhutan decided to return to Nepal.

He also made the  statement

Gross National Happiness 

is more important than 

Gross national Product

As part of this they were committed to :

Sustained economic growth and development

The preservation and promotion of their cultural heritage

The conservation and sustainable use of the environment

Good governance

Bhutan has free medicine, free healthcare and free education . The schools teach the Zorig Chusum ( the 13 arts and crafts)

They are constantly refurbishing temples to keep them fresh and bright.


Any new paintings must contain something Bhutanese and houses are built by the whole community


Weaving in Bhutan is a very important craft(textiles had been the only form of currency in the past)

Thimphu -the capital of Bhutan has a National Textile Museum.

It also has the Tashichha Dzong – half of which is for government and the other half is the Buddhist centre

Dances are now recorded for posterity and are a central feature in the Bhutanese festivals which are attended by many of the Bhutanese.   In an amusing anecdote Zara told us how protective and careful the Bhutanese are of their culture and whilst most tourists respect it – some don’t so sometimes they give out the wrong date for national celebrations so that visitors are not present on the correct date!!!


Having strengthened the cultural aspects of Bhutan the 4th king abdicated and  his  eldest  son Jigme Khesar  became the 5th king

Bhutan was facing external problems from China and internal problems largely brought on by the TV and media. Initially he tried to ban some programmes but the worldwide web meant that this was impossible.One of the most important and ongoing works of the King involves Kidu, a tradition based on the rule of a Dharma King whose sacred duty is to care for his people.

Zara concluded this fascinating talk by reminding us of Bhutan’s very proud people, striking architecture and  strong Buddhism – I think we had all seen this through her talk. Bhutan is also understandably proud  of its  bio diversity and is the only country in the world  that is carbon negative.

It is seeking  to evolve as a contemporary buddhist society – a world which could teach us so much.

As we reluctantly came to end of this lecture many of us were already looking out passports and planning a visit to this magical place as soon as we can travel.