Evening Lectures 2018

New to Berkhamsted on the Arts scene

The Ashridge Decorative & Fine Arts Society (ADFAS) has celebrated its 50th anniversary year by
recreating its very earliest format for monthly talks.

From February 2018 we are formally starting a regular evening session of talks aimed at anyone with an
interest in the arts.   This is in addition to the existing successful morning sessions in Potten End Village

If you have had a busy day, an ADFAS evening talk is the perfect way to unwind in relaxed surroundings
and in great company.

To give a potentially younger audience a taste of what we have to offer, ADFAS held two introductory
events in October and November 2017 in the Court House in Berkhamsted.  These were very successful
with nearly 50 attendees present at each, including a large number of new faces and also several young
Arts students from local 6th forms.  These gave your Committee sufficient confidence to decide to
formalise Membership of this extra parallel arm of ADFAS activities in 2018.

Your Committee has been busy since then developing our ideas for meeting this very obvious demand.

We can now confirm that the venue will be the Civic Centre in Berkhamsted on the second Wednesday of
each month – see below for our inaugural programme of talks which we trust new members will find
interesting and stimulating!  We hope the decision to immediately go for a much larger venue will enable
ADFAS to grow its membership rapidly in the coming weeks.

Doors open at 7.30pm with the each talk starting at 8.00pm and we will finish soon after 9.00pm.

If you wish to participate in this new venture, the Application paperwork can be obtained by contacting us
on 01442 862507.

Membership per person for the six lectures through to the summer break is set at £60.00 by cheque
(payable to ADFAS) along with a completed form to the Committee.

As you will see from one of our recent announcements, this wider membership will enable us to extend
our support to the local community through our Young Arts projects.

So if you would like to meet new people with similar interests and hear a fascinating talk from one of our
excellent speakers selected from The Arts Society panel, then why not apply today to join in this exciting
development. Similarly, if you have friends who might be interested, please feel free to encourage them to come
along.  They will thank you!!

Click on any selected ADFAS Evening Lecture item below to display further details available.

Here are examples of some of our marketing images used to promote the Evening Taster sessions in
Hemel Hempstead, St Albans,Tring, Berkhamsted and the surrounding villages!

Green Lady                       Lobster without words    

     October 2017                                         November 2017

Evening Lecture Programme

Tuesday 10 October 2017 - Have you good taste? - David Phillips

About the lecture

That was the title of a survey conducted by The Listener magazine, to test the nation’s artistic judgment.

David gets us to try one of these tests, and discover what a puzzler for the connoisseur this question really is. 

The problem is that questions of taste mix up judgments of artistic quality with notions of social acceptability. We focus mostly on the social side, and brace ourselves to confront what constitutes badly behaved art.  Ostentation, political incorrectness, sentimentality, nudity and the merely unfashionable can all qualify.

But we are still left with some objects that escape all those categories, and are just “kitsch”.  In pursuit of a definition, we take a light-hearted tour past some wonderful artworks, including works by Constable, Stubbs and Dali, as well as some wonderfully awful ones.  

Green Lady              Gnome              ChipMirror

We look at some real park railing specials, as well as pictures by Tretchikoff and the American Thomas Kinkade, to discover what they have in common.  We watch the development from cliché to kitsch, as commercial artists crank up emotive features for commercial effect, to the point of caricature. 
No promises though that we’ll find that we always agree on which of the things we’ve been looking at are in good taste - and which are kitsch.

About the lecturer - David Phillips

Our speaker studied History at Oxford, and from 1968-82 worked for Nottingham Castle Museum.

David Phillips 2

David then became a Lecturer in Museum Studies and Art History at the University of Manchester.

Published a book about museum practice with Manchester University Press, Exhibiting Authenticity 1997

He has been an accredited lecturer for NADFAS, now The Arts Society, for a number of years.


Booking Facilities through Eventbrite

Please go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adfas-evening-event-10-october-2017-tickets-37874347192

Wednesday 8 November 2017 - From Wild Beasts to Pickled Sharks - Linda Collins

About the lecture - 'From Wild Beasts to Pickled Sharks'

The opening of Tate Modern in 2000 took London by storm. Thousands more visitors than expected piled into the building. Modern Art in the capital became more fashionable overnight. But for many visitors, looking at Rodin’s ‘Kiss’ for example, they found it difficult to see today why it was modern. Ditto for Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’. But we are looking at these pieces with a hundred years separating us and them. In that time, both these works have been accepted into the mainstream and cease to shock us anymore. We see them on mugs, umbrellas and fridge magnets – they have lost their ability to shock us.

The Kiss


We can see perhaps why the Fauves created such a stir by their use of completely unnatural colours instead of shading, but the ‘Kiss’ just looks tame these days – beautiful, but tame. In its day, however, to see a natural and un-idealised body portrayed – a real person in other words – was quite shocking. Marble was more generally associated then with tombs or classical statues than with real, live bodies. Rodin has taken the Dante story of Lancelot and Guinevere and turned it into a sculpture.

The fact that these two were brother and sister-in-law would probably have added to the scandal.  Notice, too, that it is Guinevere who has Lancelot in an embrace rather than vice versa and it doesn’t look like she wants to let him go anytime soon.  But we are made of sterner stuff these days and it takes a lot more to shock us. A dead cow perhaps – or an unmade bed?



  Op Art stripes



It is fascinating to look at works of 20th century art and set them within their own time. For example, Brigit Riley’s Op art stripes were just perfect for their time in the 1960s. No need for experimenting with drugs – just stand in front of a Riley painting for a while, stare at the centre until it moves and voilà. Or perhaps many people did both at once….





Marcel Duchamp fooled us all when he created his ‘ready mades’ and changed the course of art in the process. Art becomes art because the artist says it is.





And what about this pile of bricks? 

How much more interesting it is to know that Carl Andrés first exhibition was not the success he had hoped for and so he returned the bricks to the brick makers where he had bought them and only kept one sculpture. By the time of the next show, the colour of the bricks had changed and they were no longer yellow….a limited edition was born.

Modern art takes more research in order to understand it.  We need to try and place it within its own time and to see it as far as possible through the eyes of the people who would have viewed it then.  In many cases, it can make us laugh, but it can also make us angry (even though it is difficult sometimes to know why) and it can energise us.  It all depends on how we look at it.




About the lecturer - Linda Collins

Linda was employed by the Historic Royal Palaces for more than twenty years before becoming an independent lecturer and lecture organiser. 

linda collins

She holds a BA(hons) in Early Italian art; an MA in the works of Georges de la Tour, and a Diploma in French language and Culture.
Researching for her MA in Paris and spending much time in the country has led to Linda having a special interest in French Art, but working amongst the paintings in the Royal Collection has also been fascinating and compelling. The opening of the New Cumberland Art Gallery at Hampton Court Palace for example was wonderful because it has brought together works by Caravaggio, Holbein, Rembrandt, Gentileschi (both father and daughter), Gainsborough and many, many more in a beautiful historic setting.
She has spent much of her time lecturing to adult education groups, Fine Art societies, Antique groups, The National Trust, U3A, and various universities.
Linda has been lucky enough to lecture worldwide and she has fairly recently returned from her third lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand for the The Arts Society (previously known as the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts – shortened to NADFAS).
She has been filmed for a PBS TV series looking at Tudor Art and is in the process of putting a book together on the history of Modern Art in Paris.
She works as a freelance lecturer at the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern and is honoured to say that she is an accredited The Arts Society lecturer! 


Booking Facilities through Eventbrite

Please go to      https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adfas-evening-talk-linda-collins-from-wild-beasts-to-pickled-sharks-8-november-2017-tickets-37875383291

Wednesday 14 February 2018 - Art of Rabindranath Tagore - Dr John Stevens

This evening's lecturer - Dr John Stevens

Feb 2018 John Stevens Photo

John is a Research Associate at SOAS, University of London, and a member of academic staff at the SOAS South Asia Institute.

His PhD in History is from University College London. He teaches British Imperial history, Indian history and Bengali language, and is a regular visitor to India and Bangladesh.

He publishes widely in the fields of British and Indian history. His biography of the Indian guru Keshab Chandra Sen will be published by Hurst in 2018.

He appears regularly in the Indian media, and was recently a guest on BBC Radio Four’s In Our Time, discussing the poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore.

John is a new recruit to The Arts Society's panel of accredited lecturers and we are pleased to see him at our season of Evening lectures.

Art of Rabindranath Tagore


Feb 2018 Picture of Artist small

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is arguably the most important Indian artistic figure of the modern era. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, claimed that he had two gurus: Gandhi and Tagore.

A renowned poet, novelist, composer and painter, Tagore is also the only person in history to have written the national anthems for two countries (India and Bangladesh).

He became a global sensation when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first non-European to do so. This lecture provides an introduction to Tagore’s remarkable life and work, including his novels, poetry, songs and paintings. It also explores the role Tagore’s art played in the story of India’s fight for independence.

Examples of some of Tagore's output

Feb Picture A                                          Feb Picture B

    Coloured ink on paper c 1938                                        Coloured ink on paper c. 1929-30

  Coloured ink on paper c. 1931-2

     Coloured ink on paper c. 1929-30


Booking Facilities through Eventbrite

ADFAS are offering Founder Membership for the current series of talks for £60.00 - contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details and application forms.   This is the Society's preferred approach as it allows us to support our charitable giving via Gift Aid recovery to local schools and individual arts students progressing their studies.

If you want to have a 'taste' of what ADFAS have to offer, then purchase one off tickets to this talk by visiting


We are encouraging full time Arts Students to participate in our activities by offering a limited number of tickets for qualifying youngsters only by entrance using a FREE ticket obtainable from


Wednesday 14 March 2018 - The Art of the Home - Dr Anthony Buxton

The Art of the Home

The home, as the place of the most intimate experiences of life and personal identity is a significant subject in the art of many periods.

800px Thomas Hovenden American born Ireland Breaking Home Ties Google Art Project        1    Thomas Hovenden    'Breaking Home Ties' 1890. Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA          

As the nature and view of domestic life has altered over the past centuries so too has the symbolic role of the home in art, from the virtuous context for religious narratives in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to the portraiture of polite society in the eighteenth, moral posturing in the nineteenth and new concepts of the home and family in the twentieth century.

      2   Georg Friedrich Stettner (attr)   'Christ in the House of Martha' 17th century.  Van Ham Kunstauktionen, Auction House, Cologne, Germany

                                                                               smaller Georg Friedrich Stettner attr Christus im Hause der Martha

This lecture takes examples of the diverse depiction of the home over the centuries to explore how domestic life has changed as also its depiction and symbolic role in art.

   3     Carl Larsen      'Flowers on the Windowsill' 1894. National Museum, Stockholm

800px Blomsterfönstret av Carl Larsson 1894

Dr Antony Buxton

We are pleased to welcome our speaker Antony Buxton to this our second ADFAS evening talk.  

He lectures on the history of art, architecture and design, and material and domestic culture for the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford and other British and American institutions of higher education.

                            Dr Antony Buxton

Prior to academic teaching he was for many years a furniture designer-maker and period furniture conservator, leading to an interest in the way in which material and aesthetic culture, social life and values interact.

Publications include Domestic Culture in Early Modern England (The Boydell Press 2015) 

                           Antony Buxton book title 1


Inhabit: People, Places and Possessions (with Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson, Peter Lang 2017). 

                          Antony Buxton book title 2




Wednesday 11 April 2018 - A History of London’s Royal Parks - Paul Rabbitts

Our Speaker this evening - Paul Rabbitts 

Paul Rabbitts graduated at Sheffield with a BA Honours in Geography followed by a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh. He is a qualified landscape architect and park manager and has worked for several local authorities across the UK.

Paul Rabbitts at Watford bandstand opening September 2016

He is a passionate advocate for public parks and in particular the Victorian and Edwardian bandstand and is a prolific author on the subject.    The first of Paul’s 14 books was published in 2011 on the iconic bandstand and was followed rapidly by books on the Royal Parks, our Great British Parks and most recently on ‘Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks ’, as well as some of our greatest park designers.

In addition, due out this year will be the culmination of work on a biography of Sir Christopher Wren.  Now a UK leading expert on bandstands he has been asked to assist in a number of local restoration projects nationwide and has been a regular and popular speaker on bandstands and public parks for many years.

He continues to work on an initiative to bring bandstands back to life through his sister website, www.pavilionsformusic.co.uk which he formally launched in May 2015.

Paul hopes that his talk today will leave you wanting to share his strange fascination with Victorian bandstand architecture and public parks in general.


About the lecture - 'A History of London Royal Parks'

London's royal parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces; just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde or Regent's Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike.

Regents Park plan small      

Plan of Regents Park by John Nash, amended in 1826

They have a grand history - some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation.  Since being opened to the public during the eighteenth century, they have hosted some of London's great events, including the Great Exhibition and innumerable jubilees and celebrations.

Hyde Park Gate small    

Hyde Park Corner and the Apsley Gate designed by a very young Decimus Burton between 1826 and 1829

This lecture tells the story of all eight of the parks from the point when they were acquired by the monarchy until the present day, including the major historic moments and events with which they are associated.

Green Park smallest            Green Park Devonshire Gates with grand Portland Stone piers surmounted with black metal sphinxes

St James Nash Bridge small

St James's Park and the Chinese Bridge and Pagoda, erected by John Nash to commemorate the Glorious Peace of 1814

Richmond Park smallRichmond Park - White Lodge, now a ballet school but lived in by many monarchs throughout the years 


Section of Book titles authored by Paul Rabbitts

Paul Rabbitts Hyde Park the Peoples Park cover resized 1

Paul Rabbitts cover GreatParks Great Designers reduced 1

Paul Rabbitts London Royal Parks cover resized 1

Wednesday 9 May 2018 - A Load of Old Balls - Simon Inglis

Our Lecturer tonight

Writer and historian Simon Inglis specialises in the architecture and heritage of sport and recreation.

Since 2004 he has edited the Played in Britain series for English Heritage. Although sport and recreation might seem an unlikely subject for The Arts Society, non-sporty types need have no fear.

Simon’s themes are architecture, design, heritage and popular culture. 

 simon inglis 2015

After a history degree at University College London, he freelanced for various publications, including the Guardian, Observer and Radio Times.

He has curated exhibitions for the Building Centre and the British Council, been a regular contributor to radio and television, has travelled and lectured extensively, and written a number of books. Two were shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, while another, on British football grounds, was chosen by journalist Frank Keating as the best sports book of the 20th century.

A recent highpoint in his work for English Heritage was the listing of a 1970’s skate park in Essex, a world first that made the 10 o'clock news.





Tonights Lecture

What is this object?            

                                                              Precipitation from the sky?         Medieval cannon ball?        

                                                A Giant gob-stopper?                  The perfect cabbage?               A new Moon for Jupiter?


Carpet Ball 09 05 2018

Wednesday 13 June 2018 - All Artists Love Purple - Pauline Chakmakjian

Pauline Chakmakjian

We are very pleased to welcome tonight's speaker to Berkhamsted.   Pauline is an independent lecturer on both eighteenth-century British Freemasonry and Freemasonry in contemporary Japan (including masonic symbolism), as well as certain aspects of Japanese culture such as historical periods, the City of Kyoto, and Machiya (traditional Japanese townhouses).

Appointed a Visit Kyoto Ambassador by the Mayor of the City of Kyoto. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Whittier in the USA; a Dip Law and an MA in Modern French Studies both from London.

She has given public lectures since 2004. Pauline also offers lectures on a number of more unusual subjects. In 2013 she gave a lecture tour for a number of the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (who have 37 Societies with objectives in line with those here in the UK). Their first Society was formed in 1985 based in Sydney and, like your own ADFAS, runs two monthly sessions.

All Artists Love Purple

From the ancient world to today, purple is often associated with royalty and nobility in many different civilizations and cultures.

This lecture highlights the deep beauty of this colour as well as to explain the various meanings associated with purple in relation to culture, society and spirituality in a selection of different countries. 

Wednesday 11 July 2018 - Bread and Circuses

   TheArtsSociety supported Purple