Dave Clarke : Untangling the Web – Demystifying Spiders at ZSL London Zoo
This was a really fascinating and well received talk on spiders and ZSLs very effective Friendly Spider Programme which has achieved 90% success rate with people wanting to overcome arachnophobia. Dave also showed many images of the innovative displays of spiders at ZSL, including an installed bath with spiders in it! Conservation initiatives were described with the great success of breeding and reintroducing the rare (and large) endangered raft spiders in the fen wetlands.
James M. Taylor : Brilliant British Humour in the Forgotten Art of the Picture Postcard, 1840-1950s
Artist-drawn postcards were the most popular art form from the Edwardian era to the outbreak of World War II. They entertained, inspired, instructed, motivated, persuaded and lifted up the spirits. James described the popular themes and styles by the masters of the medium such as Mabel Lucie Attwell, Donald McGill and Fred Spurgin; and the reasons why their popularity waned with the British public.
Andrew Ellis : Art UK: Democratising Access to the Nation’s Art
A full house for the first monthly meeting of the year was rewarded with a fascinating and enlightening talk on the work and achievements of Art UK, by its director Andrew Ellis. The ambition of Art UK (gradually being realised) is provide an online catalogue of the nation’s artworks. This is especially important as 80% of these works are generally hidden from public view at any one time. The venues in which these are housed range from the country’s most well-known museums and art galleries to smaller institutions like Haringey’s Bruce Castle (although, sadly, not the Royal Collection). Andrew described the photographing and cataloguing of the works of art, talked about copyright and licensing issues, and highlighted one or two recent initiatives of the Art UK website, the most interesting of which is the forum where members of the public are invited to share any information about painting and sculptures about which nothing is known.