Summary of current events

The Model and the Muse in 19th Century Art

Wed 8th May 2024

10:30 am and 12:30 pm

By: Daphne Lawson

In discussing famous artists of the nineteenth century, the model central to their work is frequently overlooked. This lecture explores the myths of the Impressionists’ models in France and the Pre-Raphaelite muses in England. Some of them were artists in their own right, overshadowed by the men who painted them, and others never really overcame their lowly status as an artist’s model in the hierarchy of the art world. We begin with Victorine Meurent, the model for Manet’s Olympia and Van Gogh’s paintings of his mistress Sien and Madame Roulin in Arles and also Degas’s sculpture of Marie Van Goetham, better known as The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years.

Daphne Lawson has an MA by REsearch and Thesis from the University of Canterbury on Degas' Public and Private Spectacle, and a BA in Art History from London University.  Her first career was as an actress, following this, until retirement, she taught courses on French Impressionism,European Romanticism and Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Murder most florid

Wed 12th June 2024

10:30 am and 12:30 pm

By: Mark Spencer

Plants too are silent witnesses to crimes. Their presence in many crime scenes can help an investigator identify a suspect or locate a victim. Apparently mundane plants such as brambles and nettles can provide valuable insights into when a crime was committed. Fragments of leaves and seeds embedded in soil on the footwear of a suspect can place them at the scene. An understanding of landscape history and land-use helps an investigator discriminate between a clandestine burial and a mediaeval feature in a woodland. Forensic botany is not new science, plants have played a role in solving major cases for decades, including the infamous murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son.

 Mark Spencer has been fascinated by plants since a small boy. He studied horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He also studied botany and mycology at university, and then worked as a field botanist for a regional conservation organisation. After 12 years as a senior botany curator at the Natural History Museum, London he is now a consultant forensic botanist, public speaker and occasional radio and TV presenter. He is the honorary curator of Carl Linnaeus’s herbarium at the Linnean Society of London, one of the most significant collections in the history of science. He has a strong interest in the history of botany and botanic gardens, invasive non-native species and the flora of North-West Europe.

Murder most florid