Harpenden Evening Web Page

Programme of Lectures 2020-2021

Until further notice all lectures will be  held on line via Zoom on the internet, details of how to gain access can be accessed by clicking here. Lectures will start at 7:30pm


15th December 2020
Lecturer: Dr Claire Walsh
From Forest Fir to Festive Feature “The Christmas Tree”

The Christmas Tree presents us with over five centuries of art and meaning. Vital to the imagery of both the pagan world and Christianity, its significance emerges in Norse yuletide, ancient Rome and with the early-medieval saints, before its diverse strands were drawn together to symbolize the modern Christmas. It is wrapped in legend, from the Icelandic sagas to St Boniface, from the Mystery Plays to Martin Luther. In art, the forest fir has made the transition from Viking rock carvings to German Romanticism and Scandinavian naturalism, on its way to finding its place as an icon of our modern festival. Decorated and shimmering with light, it has brought Christmas from outside the home into the heart of the family, it has drawn soldiers together across No-Man’s Land, and it continues to symbolize its essential, timeless message of Peace on Earth.

Picture 1  Picture 2  Picture 4  Picture 3


20th January 2021
Lecturer: David Wright
Wine has been part of our global society for over 7,000 years, and the story tells of its origin and appearance in all societies across the Mediterranean and through Europe. There is rich evidence of the role wine has played in these societies and how it became an important component of faith, well-being and festivity. From the kwevris of Georgia in 5,000 B.C., the symposia in ancient Greece, the thermopolia of Pompeii, the hospices of Europe, to the dining tables of fine society, wine has been ever present. Drawings, paintings, engravings, buildings, pottery and wine labels themselves all contribute to the story.

Making wine

17th February 2021
Lecturer: Helen Doe
Described as 'the most maritime of counties' Cornwall's centuries of fish connections are more than just tin and fish. An exploration through objects.

Art picture 1  Art object 2

Art object 3  Art picture 4

17th March 2021
Lecturer: Stephen Richardson
Burlington House on London’s Piccadilly has been the home of the Royal Academy of Arts since 1868. Although the Academy was already 100 years old when it took up residence, it is not commonly known that the building has a long and fascinating history of its own. This talk focuses on the origins of Burlington House, from construction in the 1660’s for a courtier to King Charles II; re-fashioning as a Palladian mansion for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington; its association with architects and artists such as William Kent and Sebastiano Ricci; further re-development by the Cavendish family during the Regency period, and its ultimate role as the home of the United Kingdom's leading 'society for promoting the Arts of Design'.
The talk also examines the reasons behind the founding of the Royal Academy, its own early history and its Olympian era during the time of eminent Victorian artists.  

House picture 1  House picture 2

21st April 2021
Lecturer: Helen Ritchie
British Studio Pottery: a Concise History
An overview of the British Studio Pottery movement, exploring handmade pottery in Britain from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the present day, including the work of the Martin Brothers, Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, Alison Britton and Grayson Perry.

19th May 2021
Lecturer: Patricia Law
Diamonds. The sequel!

Diamonds were formed below the crust of the earth millions of years ago erupting into our mountains, glaziers, rivers and seas. Until the early 18th century the only known source was in India with subsequent finds throughout the world. We will look at both the history and qualities of diamonds - what makes them unique, why and how we prize them. This lecture then goes into the next chapter in the story of diamonds, because on the market now there are man-made/Synthetic diamonds. So how do you make a diamond and how can you tell the difference? It also addresses the big story of how the synthetic diamond might affect our love and appreciation of diamonds and the value we give to them.

16th June 20201
Lecturer: Adam Busiakiewicz
The Art of Melancholy (illustrated with music on the Lute)

Despite our own modern preconceptions, the quiet introspection of melancholy was often associated with creativity in the past. This was prevalent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when significant treatises, music and art were dedicated to the condition of melancholy. Treading the thin line between madness and contentment, this lecture will investigate why and how artists and musicians responded to this significant part of human consciousness. Several pieces of live lute music will be performed as part of the lecture.

21st July 2021
Lecturer: Tim Stimson
Mr Punch's reign as premier puncturer of pomposity spanned five monarchs. His blend of cartoons, jokes and satire holding up a mirror to society, with a wry grin, pointing out questionable politicians, unimaginative bureaucrats, rude shop assistants, striking workers, rich foreigners, rising prices and ... the British railways ... recognises that to laugh rather than cry is a good tonic.

Punch Magazine described itself as:  "a guffawgraph" "a refuge for destitute wit" "an asylum for the thousands of drawings, orphan jokes and perishing puns which otherwise wander about without so much as a shelf to rest on" ​

Many of us have fond memories of Punch, and this lecture commemorates the husband of a Sandwich Arts Society member, who donated 36 bound volumes towards its creation.

A Punch cover

September 2021
Lecturer: To be announced  

For the complete years programme click here