30th May 2022

Peter McPhee: A Painter in Revolutionary Times - John Singleton Copley

The lecture will examine the harrowing story of an outstanding portraitist caught in the deadly divisions of Revolution. Copley, born in 1783 to poor Irish parents in Boston, became a highly sought after painter of the professional and mercantile elites of this small colonial port. Increasing friction between Britain and her American colonies after 1763 polarised this elite into warring camps. Copley found himself caught between old friends and family and had to make a choice which would change his life tragically and permanently.

27th June 2022

Paul Brunton: Miles Franklin - A Brilliant Career?

Miles Franklin (1879-1954) is best known as the author of the wonderfully rebellious novel My Brilliant Career, first published in 1901 when she was 21. It was a huge success and made her a literary star. She left Australia in 1906 and worked in America with the National Women’s Trade Union League and in Britain with the National Housing and Town Planning Council. In 1932 she returned to Australia and plunged into the local literary scene with gusto. When she published All That Swagger in 1936, it was My Brilliant Career all over again and Miles was again a celebrity.

25th July 2022

Susan Scollay: Off The Page - Persian Arts in the Medieval and Pre-Modern Islamic World

Classic Persian stories copied into illuminated manuscripts illustrated by exquisite miniature paintings represent one of the  highest achievements in the history of the art of the book. Produced in palaces or other elite workshops from the 13th to 18th centuries, these literary works often served as guides to courtly dress, manners and values in territories such as Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India. This lecture will examine the content and ‘look’ of the books that circulated in the medieval and later Persianate world.

29th August 2022

Claudia Chan Shaw: Art Deco Sydney - A Persistent Presence

From an incinerator designed by Walter Burley Griffin to the local cinema, pub and milk bar, Art Deco design was not limited to the elegant office buildings of bustling downtown Sydney of the 1930s. Sydney’s smart set were early adopters embracing the style at every level. Join Claudia Chan Shaw for an exploration of Art Deco Sydney, a visual culture defined not only through architecture, but also through graphic and interior design, the decorative arts and photography.

26th September 2022

Geoffrey Edwards: The Problematic Statue - A Brief History of the Debunking and Desecrating Public Monuments

The toppling and vandalizing of prominent statues around the world has been an all-too-frequent news item in recent times. Citing the alleged moral failure or criminal culpability of the toppled subjects, the wrath of outraged crowds has focused on grand sculptural representations of kings, presidents, dictators and celebrated historical identities including Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook, assorted Confederate generals and Cecil Rhodes. But this is hardly a modern-day phenomenon.

31st October 2022

Robert Ketton: Turner - The Explorer

Turner lived at a time of great social change and scientific invention. More than anyone else he recorded, in thousands of works of art, the transition of Britain from a rural to an industrial society. Turner was a fascinating character, secretive, driven, penny pinching and generous, chaotic in his private life and fiercely patriotic. He is regarded as one of the greatest nineteenth century painters, and his works are exhibited in galleries the world over. During the lecture Catherine Ketton will create a painting in the style of Turner.

28th February 2022

NEWCASTLE LECTURE: David Banney: Symmetry in Art, Craft and Graphic Design with Lessons from the Japanese Puffer Fish

Symmetry is one of the fundamental organizing principles of the universe – so pervasive that we tend to take it for granted. But, consciously or subconsciously, symmetries and broken symmetries influence our behavior. From finding a mate to selling products, symmetry is always lurking in the background, and this lecture examines the fascinating roles of symmetry in the visual world.

21st March 2022

John Neylon: A Tale of Two Studios - Hans Heysen & Nora Heysen

The Hans Heysen story of the artist who opened Australians’ eyes to the beauty of the bush and inland, is well known. More recently, his daughter Nora has stepped out of the shadows of her father’s reputation to claim her own place within Australian art as the first woman to be appointed an Australian war artist and to win the Archibald Prize, and as an artist in her own right. This lecture traces a unique story of two creative journeys separated by an independence of spirit but linked by a love of art.

18th April 2022

Julian Bickersteth: Conserving the Antarctic Huts of the Heroic Age

The huts of the Ross Sea region from where Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Scott set off to explore Antarctica between  1901 and 1912 still contain many artefacts from their expeditions. Since 2002 Julian Bickersteth has been the conservator advising on the care of these collections. In a richly illustrated lecture drawing on his own visits there, Julian will discuss the challenges of cold climate conservation and the extraordinary and sometimes tragic stories of the Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration.