19th March 2015

The Chindits 1942-45: Taking the Fight to the Japanese

Speaker: Dylan D'Arch

Summary: the brainchild of Orde Wingate, the Chindits were a special force raised from the regular army. Using unconventional methods the Chindits penetrated deep into the jungles of Burma, operating deep behind enemy lines with the aim of disrupting enemy lines of communication, collecting intelligence, attacking enemy bases and diverting enemy troops from other tasks. The talk discusses the Chindits from formation to disbandment with special focus on Operations Longcloth (1943), Thursday (1944) and the debate on their contribution to war in Burma.

This year a new brigade, Brigade 77, is being formed. The 77th Brigade were the original Chindits who took part in Operation Longcloth. Using modern day unconventional tactics of combatting terrorism via Facebook and Twitter, Brigade 77 have been named the Chindits in honour of the original force. They will also adopt a similar insignia.

16th April 2015

To Hell With Culture

Introduction by Michael Paraskos

Summary: To Hell with Culture, a recent film (2014) takes its provocative title from an essay by its subject, Herbert Read. Read - poet, art critic, co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and self-professed anarchist - was arguing in 1943 against the capitalist co-option and commodification of culture, and the increasing separation of art and society. Huw Wahl, the film's director, hopes to bring this central idea back into public debate, along with various other convictions which emerge from Read's extraordinary and varied body of work.

19th February 2015

The Private Lives of the Impressionists

Speaker: Sue Roe

Summary: Sue Roe is returning to talk on the Impressionists. As you may remember, Sue spoke in November about her recently published book on Picasso and Matisse (In Montmartre). This talk will feature artists Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt. Though they were often ridiculed in their time, today astonishing sums are paid for the work of these artists. Their paintings are familiar but what were they like as people? What were their relationships with each other? Where and how exactly did they live and work? To research her book, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Dr Roe made in-depth studies of their lives as well as their works, visiting all the rural villages laced around the River Seine where, because the air was pure and the rents were cheap, they lived.

11th December 2014

Venue and date change: please note! This is the second Thursday of December and at The Barn on the Causeway, The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HE.

Paul Drury and the Revival of Pastoral Etching

Speaker: Jolyon Drury

Summary: In this illustrated presentation I am going to talk about Paul Drury the print maker and the man, about the influence of his father the sculptor Alfred Drury RA, about his lifelong Goldsmiths friends including Graham Sutherland, their pastoral etching development stimulated by Samuel Palmer and how Paul’s and the group’s work evolved towards abstraction whilst still maintaining the pastoral tradition.
There are a number of underlying themes running through this talk and my book Revelation to Revolution which will be available at the venue– the revival of pastoral printmaking following Samuel Palmer – the perfection of the hand-drawn, hand-printed etching – the pivotal role that Paul Drury had within the group that I will refer to as the (Goldsmiths’) Class of (19)21 – the developing conflict between representational and abstract art – and last but certainly not least the very close personal relationships that enabled that school of art at Goldsmiths College to be a unique learning experience under the benign governance of Clive Gardiner that cemented the individual skills in the group and which paved the way for pioneering design and technique for which Goldsmiths is still recognised to this day.

20th November 2014

In Montmartre

Speaker: Sue Roe

Summary: Sue Roe is the author of several books, including a widely praised work on the artist Gwen John, a New York Times best-selling collective biography of the Impressionists; and In Montmartre, hailed in The Guardian as a 'brilliant dance'.
In her lively, illustrated talk Sue Roe transports us to the artistic world of Paris when Montmartre was in its heyday. In the shadow of the windmills – artificial and real – Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and others gathered in the cafes and bars, the Bateau Lavoir and the Lapin Agile. During the first decade of the twentieth century the cross-fertilization of painting, writing, music and dance produced a panorama of activity and an atmosphere of unprecedented excitement. The cinema replaced the circus as the most popular form of entertainment, the Ballet Russe took Paris by storm and in Montmartre the locals danced the night away in the modest Moulin de la Galette and the glamorous Moulin Rouge. In Montmartre vividly brings to life the world of art in Paris between 1900 and 1910.

In Montmartre, Radio 4 Book of the Week in early August 2014, is available now, published by Fig Tree, an imprint of Penguin Books ISBN 978-1-905-490868.

16th October 2014

Herbert Read: All that was left of them

Venue as usual at The Bedford (was at Waterstones). No fixed admission fee, donations at the door.

Speakers: Michael Paraskos and Ben Read

Summary: This is the title of the new book of Herbert Read’s war writings about to be published, edited by Benedict Read and James Read. The readings will come from this, together with a brief explanation of Read’s wartime activity (WW1). Benedict Read is Herbert Read’s youngest son. A distinguished professor of art history at the University of Leeds, who specialised in the history of sculpture, Ben has published numerous books and articles on sculpture, and is the Deputy Chairman of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association.
James Read is a journalist and broadcaster for the BBC World Service. He is Herbert Read’s grandson, and Ben Read’s nephew, and studied history at the University of Leeds.

Herbert Read 1918 "All that was left of them" 
Herbert Read's Battalion

18th September 2014

Founding Father: The Life, Legacy, Genius and Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson

Speaker: Andrew Wines

Summary: the talk will explore Jefferson's varied career as revolutionary patriot, author of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of Virginia, ambassador to France, Secretary of State, President of the United States, architect, philosopher and founder of the Library of Congress and the University of Virginia. Attention will also be focussed on the contradictions of Jefferson's character. He was a libertarian who held slaves and an opponent of government power who nevertheless exercised it ruthlessly as President. Surprisingly unaware of his own inconsistencies, Jefferson became possibly the single most important figure in American history.

21st August 2014

Hypnotism Without Hypnosis

Speaker: Martin S. Taylor

Summary: in tonight's talk, Martin will give an explanation of his skeptical outlook on traditional hypnosis, illustrated with clips from his stage show - and possibly some live demonstrations on the audience.


Hypnotism without Hypnosis

The Stroop Effect

17th July 2014

Dylan Thomas Centenary

Speaker: Dylan D'Arch

Summary: Dylan Thomas is perhaps one of Britain's most famous poets, infamous as much for his love of drinking and pub culture as he is for his poetry and writing. This talk will explore his life focusing on his relationships with family, friends, places, women and, of course, poetry and writing, with a look behind the inspirations for his more famous pieces.


Dylan Thomas Reads His Own Poetry CD

Dylan Thomas: The War Films Anthology

Dylan Thomas: A New Life by Andrew Lycett

Dylan Thomas: The Pubs by Jeff Towns and illustrations by Wyn Thomas

Dylan Thomas, A Biography by Paul Ferris

My Life with Dylan Thomas: Double Drink Story by Caitlin Thomas

My Father’s Places by Aeronwy Thomas

Collected Poems 1934 – 1953

Welsh Drinkers by Aubrey Malone

19th June 2014

Venue change: please note! This is at The Barn on the Causeway, The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HE

The Most Acceptable Hypocrisy? Polite words in the UK and US

Speaker: Lynne Murphy

Summary: British and American English share the vocabulary of politeness, but expressions like 'please', 'thank you', and 'sorry' are generally used at different rates, in different situations, and to achieve different goals in the UK and US. What underlies these differences, and does it make any sense to say one nation is 'more polite' than the other?

15th May 2014

Kennedy, King and the Klan: Reluctance and Resistance during the US Struggle for Civil Rights

Speaker: Andrew Wines

Summary: the talk will explore the personal stories, political motivations and intricate strategies of the major proponents and opponents of the civil rights movement in America during the 1960s. The struggle's context and integration's legacy in both the north and the south will also be probed.

17thApril 2014

Living with Arabs: Nine Years with the Petra Bedouin

Speaker: Joan Ward

Summary: this tells the story of nine years contact with the people of Jordan. It is a story that begins optimistically, that describes the dawning realisation of the realities of such a life and that explains ultimately having to resist aspects of the Arab way of life. Through anecdote and personal experience, this talk gives an insight into what it is like to live with Islam, violence and gender imbalance.

20thMarch 2014

STATUEMANIA! The Victorian Love Affair with Public Statues

Speaker: Ben Read

Summary: in the 19th century and early 20th century, there was a worldwide craze for erecting statues to the great and good. In this talk Benedict Read, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, will explore the strange condition that he calls Statuemania. It might be obvious why so many statues of Queen Victoria went up all across the British Empire, but why was a politician like Robert Peel the second most popular subject in British history for public statues? And more to the point,was Britain really the home of Statuemania or was it France as most French art historians claim? In this witty and informative talk Ben Read will explain.

20th February 2014

The Landscape in British Art

Speaker: Michael Paraskos

Summary: we tend to think of landscape as such an obvious thing to paint that we forget that it is a relatively recent artistic invention. Before the seventeenth century it did not exist and it was not until the nineteenth century that it became respectable. In this talk Dr Michael Paraskos will look at the history of landscape painting, focusing on British landscape artists such as Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, to discover why landscape art came into existence, what forms it took and what it tells us about British identity. As well as art by some of our most well loved painters, Dr Paraskos will look at the relationship between art and literature, so expect to hear the poetry of Wordsworth and other literary giants in his talk too.

20th January 2014

The Reckoning: Reflections on the US Civil War on its 150th Anniversary

Speaker: Andrew Wines

Summary: during this defining conflict in American history 620,000 soldiers were killed on both sides, more than twelve times the fatalities in Vietnam, the equivalent of 5.5 million of the current US population. Despite publication of over 60,000 historical studies, as well as countless novels and films, fascinating elements of this conflict remain obscure and inaccessible. The lecture will puncture some of the myths and probe the complexities of the civil war and its legacy.