Greek & Roman architectureThis lecture (postponed from January 2017) identifies the earliest manifestations of a distinctly European architectural language, explains the different orders of ancient Greek architecture - Doric, Ionic and Corinthian - and identifies the major structures erected in ancient Greek cities. It moves on to the major architectural innovations that the ancient Romans introduced: different structures, materials and building techniques and the engineering challenges of arches, vaults and domes. The lecture closes with reflections on how this influenced later generations, including our own.

AmberAmber has been carved and traded for thousands of years.  The lecture will look at the different types of amber to be found worldwide and how they have been used. Mention will be made of how amber forms, how it is mined, and the modern treatments used to enhance it. The lecture will also cover imitations and fakes, and tips on how to recognise them.

Dr Johnson & Hester ThraleIn 1765, at the age of 56, Dr Johnson was introduced to wealthy brewer Henry Thrale and his wife Hester, blue stocking and wit. The friendship between these three would last 17 years. When Thrale died, Hester fell in love with and married an Italian musician, and neither Johnson nor London society would ever forgive her. Illustrated with paintings by Hogarth, Rowlandson, Reynolds, Richard Wilson, Francis Hayman and George Morland.

WWII women artistsInspired by the American Pilgrim Trust in anticipation of the devastation from German bombing, the commissioning of a great number of artists being given sketching permits during the blackout resulted in a remarkable record of English provincial life. Thanks to Kenneth Clarke, the best went on to be exhibited at the National Gallery. Their own collections were hidden in Snowdonia and then dispersed throughout local authority collections, as well as donated to the Imperial War Museum. Many of the artists were women who will be celebrated in this lecture, including Dame Laura Knight, Mary Kessell, Phyllis Ginger and Lee Miller.

Riot at The Rite of SpringThe story of one of the greatest creative collaborations of all: Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, whose teams of dancers, choreographers, costume and set designers transformed expectations of what a night in the theatre could be, and the circumstances behind its most notorious work. This lecture examines the build-up to the Rite of Spring’s premiere in Paris, looks at the original costumes, plays excerpts from the fascinatingly inventive score, and explores what divided the opinions of that first-night audience so dramatically. No, nothing could top the riot at the Rite in 1913 …

In 1964 Terence Conran opened the first Habitat shop in Chelsea. Habitat’s clarion call to colour and contemporary design saw off the lingering shades of post-war austerity and revolutionized British retailing. From the beginning Conran spread the word of this new lifestyle look through twice yearly Habitat catalogues; copies are now collected and traded by a new generation of interior decorators and designers. Conran was crazy, demanding and inspiring times, full of tension and humour, working with some of the best designers, art directors and photographers in the UK. This is a rare insider’s view of how Terence Conran's vision and determination changed the way we lived then and the way we live now.

Ravenna, with its cluster of 5th and 6th century churches, contains some of the finest examples of early Christian art in the form of glittering wall mosaics. This was an artform in which the Byzantines excelled, producing truly outstanding examples in Ravenna. They bring together a symphony of harmony, brilliant colours and a decorative rhythmic design. Mosaics featured in this talk are from the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the churches of San Vitale, Sant' Apollinare Nuovo and Sant' Apollinare in Classe, and the two Baptisteries.

This lecture examining the history of the Royal Academy looks at its early homes, explores a selection of ground-breaking temporary loan exhibitions and takes a behind the scenes look at the famous Summer Exhibition, which has run since 1769. It will also include reference to some of the most famous Academicians and to those who have spent time in the RA school, as well as anecdotes from the lecturer's 12 year career at the RA.

Books of Hours functioned as devotional aids or prayer books for lay men and women and were produced in prodigious numbers across Western Europe during the late Middle Ages. Today they are the most numerous and lavishly illustrated type of manuscripts to survive from the medieval period and yield fascinating insights into the practices of scribes, illuminators and patrons in an era when books were laboriously written and decorated by hand.

Turner revolutionised 19th century painting and is recognised as one of the founders of modern art, yet his work was rooted in his knowledge of the Old Masters. It was their work that motivated him in his quest for originality, and his determination that he too would one day be ranked among the great masters. This lecture juxtaposes Turner’s paintings with masterpieces that inspired him (by artists including Claude, Poussin, Rubens, Titian and Van der Velde) and shows how his keen sense of rivalry drove him to compete not only with his predecessors but also his contemporaries, notably John Constable and David Wilkie.