King's Lynn Society of Arts and Sciences
Founded in 1913
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LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2018-2019
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2017-2018
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2016-2017
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2015-2016
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2014-2015
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2013-2014
LECTURE RÉSUMÉS 2012-2013
HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY
THE HOUSE OF HIS DREAMS: REIMAGINING THE MUNNINGS ART GALLERY by Dr Lynne Broughton
The chairman introduced Jenny Hand, who is the Director of the Sir Alfred Munnings Art Gallery in Dedham Essex, situated in Castle House, his last home, which he dubbed ’My Dream House’. He was a prolific and accomplished artist and whilst there is, as yet, no comprehensive catalogue of his paintings, the gallery currently holds about 400 of his works.
He was born at Milhouse, Mendham, Suffolk and showed remarkable artistic gift at a very early age, a fact ably illustrated by a painting of a pony which he produced at age 9, and his early water colour of the mill at Mendham.
In 1892 whilst apprenticed to a printer he took an interest in the Belle Epoch and designed several posters for famous companies including Colman’s Mustard, and Caley’s Chocolate. The Director of Caley’s was so impressed by his posters that Sir Alfred was invited to join him in tours to Europe, where he further refined his artistic skills. His extraordinary paintings emphasised the three-dimensional nature of his subjects and between 1897 to 1900 he exhibited and sold his ink and wash monochrome pictures in Norwich.
In 1899 Munnings had an accident whilst negotiating a stile with his dog, and he lost the sight of his right eye, but after lengthy recovery, he continued as a skilled and productive artist, moving into a new studio near Norwich, and we were shown his remarkable Constable-like country scenes.
Alfred Munnings settled in Cornwall in 1911 at Lamorna Cove, where he formed and led a group of artists, and met his first wife, Florence, who later suffered mental illness and tragically took her own life 4 days before the outbreak of the First World War. In 1918 he was selected as the official war artist to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, and in 1920 he married his second wife Violet.
He went on to produce portraits of Lord Rothschild, the Duke of Marlborough, and the Royal family, and these were exhibited in Norwich as a tribute to him in 1925. We were also shown an illustration of one of his stunning paintings,
“My wife, my horse and me”
, featuring Lady Violet on horseback, outside Castle House. He became president of the Royal Academy of Art from 1944 to 1949. Munnings was famously outspoken, and in 1956, he produced a painting showing famous artists of the time reacting to inconsequential works of art, titling the work
“Does the subject really matter?”
which was unexpectedly well received.
Castle House was Alfred Munnings’ last home, which he bought in 1919. It now houses the exhibition which is dedicated to his life and work. His ashes are buried in St Paul’s Cathedral next to those of his hero, John Constable.
Sir Alfred Munnings was a man of many talents, and questions were asked by the audience about his sculptures, his European studies, and his music and poetry, as well as his paintings. The chairman thanked the speaker for her enthusiastic and instructive talk, and beautiful illustrations.
INTERPRETING LINCOLN CATHEDRAL by Dr Lynne Broughton
The chairman introduced Dr Lynne Broughton who gave the presentation.
She began writing about Lincoln Cathedral in 1966 producing a descriptive pamphlet and is now writing a book on the Cathedral. Her previous book on Ely Cathedral is also now being re-printed.
She began her talk by showing a picture of the Cathedral which she had taken from a distance of about a mile, showing a large and imposing medieval building with two transepts. John Ruskin has written “
It is our most precious Cathedral, which is worth any two others
Dr Broughton described the imposing exchequer gate approach which has three arches, one believed to be for entering the Cathedral, one for leaving, and one for horse traffic. This compound arch leads to the West door, which was inspired by the triumphal arch of Constantine in Rome, and symbolises the triumph of Christianity over death.
The West door was commenced in 1072, being further extended in the 12 century, and embellished in the 14 century with a superstructure. The entire West front is intricately carved with religious images. In particular, the door surround is embellished with images of the “harrowing of hell” and also images of the raising of Lazarus, and of Noah’s Ark. The oak door is of elaborate form and is heavily reinforced.
Photographs of a 12
Century font and candlestick within the Cathedral, as well as some of the Nave were shown, revealing a light open structure with high arches, and pillars which were all different to create interest. The choir stalls were made between 1365 and 1370, and are highly detailed with carvings, including angels playing instruments.
Pictures were also shown of the “crazy vault” which showed an asymmetric roof structure, again designed to create interest.
There were questions from the floor about detail in the carvings and about the possibility of wartime damage.
The chairman thanked Dr Broughton for her detailed and inspiring presentation.
SONGS THAT EMANATE FROM THE HEART: LUTHERAN MUSIC MAKING AFTER THE REFORMATION by Dr Bettina Varwig
The King’s Lynn Society of Arts and Sciences recently welcomed Dr. Bettina Varwig to a well attended meeting in which she gave a lecture entitled: Songs that emanate from the heart : Lutheran music making after the reformation. Dr. Varwig is a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Music, Cambridge and a Fellow of Emmanuel College. Dr. Varwig is especially interested in questions of musical meaning and expression, historical modes of listening, and music’s place in the history of the body, the emotions and the senses. She specialises, also in the music of Heinrich Schutz.
The lecturer described the music, and played examples of it, that congregations would have heard in church from Martin Luther’s time in Germany and the effect it had on them spiritually and emotionally and looked at the church authority’s reaction to that effect bearing in mind their priority was to the word not necessarily the music!
It was, in fact , as legend has it, on 31st October, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, an act of rebellion prompting the reformation .
Dr. Varwig also discussed the religious musical works of perhaps the greatest of all composers, J.S. Bach, and some of the composers of the times. A question and answer session followed and those present enjoyed a fascinating evening. The Society’s next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 11th January, is entitled : Interpreting Lincoln Cathedral and will be given by Dr. Lynne Broughton.
Andy Tyler — Lynn News
'An Illustrated History Of Gold Work Embroidery' by Jean Wright
Jean Wright who gave this talk was introduced by our chairman. She is a textile artist who specialises in the incorporation of precious metal into embroidery, and is based in Diss, Norfolk, and works with the Cambridge group “Fibre fusion”.
Embroidery incorporating metal threads began about 3000 years ago, and there are references to it in the Old Testament (Exodus 28). It began in the Middle East, and spread to Japan and China where gold and silver were incorporated together. It then moved to the west, where only the aristocracy and the church could afford it. It was classified as “great art”.
The technique was to beat gold or silver into thin sheets, which were the cut into strips and hand wrapped round individual threads, mainly silk to achieve sufficient flexibility. This embellished thread was known as “Jap Gold”, thought to mean Japanese gold thread. There are a large variety of types of gold decorous threads, which can be used to create texture in finished embroidery. “Purl” is a variety of self supporting hollow wound gold which is spring like, and can be cut into short lengths and incorporated by passing thread through the core, resembling beads. “Plate” is wider strips of gold which are folded and embroidered into a pattern to offer a more reflective surface. “Underside couching” is where gold wire is passed through a fabric and held in place by stitches.
Gold work was important to medieval monarchs. They went into battle with elaborate gold embellished embroidery on tunics and even their horse’s adornments. “English work” which was regarded of particularly high quality became famous during the period 1060 to 1380, and was sought throughout Europe. The standard of work was controlled by the guilds. Whilst Henry VIII wore garments heavily embellished with gold thread, embroidery of this type was not allowed in religious institutions after the Reformation. Illustrations of the gold embellished dresses of Elizabeth I and Ann Boleyn were shown, as were examples of Queen Ann afternoon tea gowns. During the Civil war (1625) lavish embroidery was no longer seen, and it did not reappear until 1660.
In the 1920’s dresses were no longer structured three dimensional garments, but were much more simplified. Pictures of exotic 1920’s gold and silver embroidered dresses were shown. The 1978 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee cope was also illustrated. Gold embroidery cannot be polished or washed, and tarnishes with handling. In modern times metal threads were coloured to make patterns more varied.
Gold work continues to current times, and is supported locally by the King’s Lynn embroidery guild.
After answering questions, the chairman thanked the speaker for her excellent presentation.
'Repair, Re-Use, Re-Invent' by Jeremy Stacey
Tonight’s speaker, Jeremy Stacey, was welcomed by our chairman. Mr. Stacey, an architect, explained that he and his wife, based in Beachamwell, work together on projects. He paid tribute to the highly-competent quantity surveyor who joins them and enables work usually to be completed both on time, and within budget. They have recently worked in Swaffham, Dereham and Gt Yarmouth.
He first spoke of Juniper House in King’s Lynn. Here it was necessary to ensure that new building fitted in with older work. Old buildings, he feels, must be respected. Hence new work needs features which link to the old. In this case, for example, he created overhanging roofs which link to the older building, without copying. He also made circulation within the building easier.
Another project was to adapt an 1850s carrstone-built workhouse which already had some interesting detail. Mr. Stacey wanted to make the centre full of light, where, previously it had been dark. When a wall was replaced by glass, the central roof raised, and a lantern built, light flooded into the building. Gt Yarmouth Town Hall was also opened out and lightened.
In Dereham Mr. Stacey was able to create a new cemetery for the town council. He wanted to recognise the gravitas of a cemetery, while ensuring that it was different from older ones. As the designated area is near the countryside, he constructed a leaf shape, with paths as veins of the leaf. With additional veins, the leaf can grow until 2065. He also planned for plenty of trees, and earth mounds to insulate the area from the A47. His design also incorporated a shelter, to acknowledge both the sky and the countryside.
After answering several questions, Mr. Stacey was thanked by our chairman for an illuminating talk.
Lecture Dates for 2019-2020
Friday 18th October 2019 AGM
Wednesday 6th November 2019
Friday 22nd November 2019
Wednesday 11th December 2019
Friday 10th January 2020
Wednesday 29th January 2020
Friday 21st February 2020
Wednesday 11th March 2020
Friday 3rd April 2020
'The Flora of King's Lynn' by Robin Stevenson
After our AGM Robin Stevenson was welcomed by our chairman.
Our speaker clearly has a sense of humour, since he described his recording of Lynn’s flora, undertaken while he was still employed, as not only a labour of love, but probably an act of lunacy too! He acknowledged the vital help in his endeavours of Frances Schumann.
A five kilometre by five kilometre square was chosen. This was divided into twenty five squares. The area included part of South Wootton, Reffley Wood and Fairstead and bordered on a section of the Ouse to the west. Lynn has a range of habitats, from woodland and maritime to industrial wasteland and rural margins. Each one kilometre square was visited several times during a year, and a list of plants compiled using hand lenses, compass, notebook and pencil, and, importantly, a gps. Both native plants and aliens were recorded, with over eight hundred species found.
Results were plotted on the twenty five square kilometre map, each species being represented by a black circle in the one kilometre square in which it was found. An analysis of the results showed that the urban/suburban areas had the highest totals. Rare plants such as Spleenwort, (on walls in the middle of town) and Rare Bittercress (by waterways) were noted.
Probable ‘winners’ in the future will be garden escapees such as Evening Primrose and Grape Hyacinth, while ‘losers’ are likely to include Wood Anenomes and our native Primroses.
This interesting and unusual talk was followed by questions, after which Mr. Stevenson was thanked by our chairman.
Our speaker concluded by expressing his concern over our flora. Not only is ‘over-neatness’ a problem, but he feels that the various conservation bodies do not work sufficiently together.
Our chairman thanked Robin for an interesting talk, told with humour.
Résumé of "A Talk on Writing, Including Poetry" by Louis de Bernieres
The speaker was welcomed by our chairman. Mr de Bernieres started by saying that he hoped to convert any scientists in the audience to poetry. He stated that most people don’t know how, or why poetry works. His idea of poetry is that it is language made musical. He pointed out that, in the west, poetry was, initially recited to a lyre, as in Greece. Thus poetry and music were one.
In England poetry and music coincided in ballads of seven to nine syllables. In the eighteenth century it was possible to buy ballads on contemporary topics which could be sung to old tunes.
At the end of the twentieth century some poets felt constrained by conventions such as rhyming. G.M.Hopkins, for example, used ‘sprung rhythm’ to catch the mood of poetry.
Mr. De Bernieres talked of the different types of metre used in poetry. He added that rhyme, though not an integral part of poetry, nevertheless makes a poem easier to remember.
Alliteration (repetition of consonant sounds) was used heavily by Anglo-Saxons. Assonance (recurring vowel sounds) can also be used. Tennyson’s ‘The Eagle’ uses both.
Since English, unlike Italian or Spanish, suffers from a lack of rhyming words, that is a good reason not to rhyme. Our speaker said he was unable to give a definition of poetry.
He answered with panache several interesting questions such as ‘How do you know when a poem is finished?’ Reply — ‘When it’s published!’ He concluded by stating that, in composing poetry, it is useful to know what rules poets have used, but you can then disobey them. Poetry must mean something, as well as being pleasant to the ear.
Our speaker was warmly thanked for the stimulating talk.
Résumé of "The West Runton Mammoth"
It is twenty seven years since the excitement of the discovery of freshly exposed parts of a mammoth skeleton in the Cromer Beds at the bottom of the cliffs at West Runton, after a storm had loosened material in 1990. Using media that included drone footage and video, Peter Sibbons of Poppyland Publishing, Cromer, gave the Society a comprehensive overview of how the remains were excavated over five years, as well as reconstructing the possible environment of the period and how this mammoth lived and died there.
This mammoth isn’t the better known woolly variety of later glaciations but a much larger species,
, which at 9-10 tonnes and 4m at the shoulder was considerably larger. The remains date from around 700,000 years ago. Pollen analysis of core samples from the site suggest that the temperature then was similar to how it is today. The environment the mammoth knew would have had a nearby river and similar flora and landscape features to that found at Upwell Fen today. The fauna would also be recognisable but with the addition of bears, rhino, hippo, spotted hyena, sabre-toothed cat and others. The Cromer Beds, which lie between Weybourne and Happisburgh where bones and shells have been found for nearly 200 years, were subsequently overlain by outwash from later glaciers which left them at the bottom of today’s cliffs.
Excavations in 1992 and 1995 showed the skeleton to be incomplete and scattered. Using methods of reconstructive archaeology and observations from current elephant and hyena behaviour, it is suggested that the remains had been trampled by other group members and scavenged by predators, as the bones were smashed in distinctive ways; teeth marks and coprolites indicate hyena activity. Also, the left knee showed pathology consistent with injury which may have weakened it.
The bones were all secured in plaster of Paris and removed from site. The remains have not been put on display yet, although the Castle Museum at Norwich is their likely destination. It is planned to launch the Deep History Coast Project this April and there will eventually be fourteen information points between Weybourne and Happisburgh. A DVD of the discovery and excavation of the mammoth based on about sixty hours of video taken at the time is to be produced in the future.