GAFAS Programme

2018-19 GAFAS Programme

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Introduction to 2018-2019 GAFAS Programme.

In September, we fly to Assisi, one of the most beautiful old Italian cities, near Perugia, the birthplace of St Francis and St Clare. The magnificent white Basilica of San Francesco, a Unesco World Heritage Site, stands high on the hill overlooking the wonderful Cumbrian countryside. The remarkable story of how Assisi became so pivotal in the earliest days of the Italian Renaissance will be presented, together with astonishing works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, and other great early artists, works which miraculously survived the earthquake of 1997.

In October, we learn of the history of the Celtic Harp and the Clarsach, from an internationally known harpist in Cornwall, who will travel 600 miles north to beguile us with her own compositions of Celtic airs and Scottish rhapsodies. A performer, teacher, and lecturer, her music is hauntingly beautiful. She has a great love of Scotland, and lives part of the year in the North-West highlands. She has a passion for the harp…come along and be entranced. This will be very special.

November sees us welcoming one of the best known and best loved contemporary artists based in the West of Scotland. Her iconic painting ‘Windows in the West’, bought by Glasgow Museums in 1996, hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It has become famous for its originality, presenting city life in a novel and heart-warming way. It followed her first major success ‘The Barras’, bought in 1988. She will regale us with her story of growing up in the West of Scotland, and her love of painting scenes of Arran and of Glasgow. She is one of our own. She has asked if there could be a Question and Answer session at the end of her talk.

In December, we will be ‘Catching the Light’ through glass sculptures, gloriously coloured with rich blues, reds, greens and yellows. ‘A Bed of Roses’, shown here, is just one of a diverse range of works, crafted by the artist in her studio near Edinburgh. They have brought her international fame and acclaim. Her workshop can be likened to a mini Scottish version of the renowned coloured glass factory on the Venetian island of Murano, with which she has been collaborating this year. Her creativity has won her many awards. Her designs are magical.

In February, we meet an art expert, who was previously, for 6 years, Curator of Hill House in Helensburgh, arguably Mackintosh’s greatest architectural design, and then, for 9 years, Curator of Dumfries House, Cumnock, south of Glasgow. Designed by Robert Adam, Dumfries House, with its impressive collection of Chippendale furniture, and 18th century Scottish furniture, is a very popular venue, with a restaurant, visitor centre, and beautiful gardens. In 2007, a consortium of charities and heritage bodies, headed by HRH The Prince of Wales, saved the property and its collections from being divided up. Our speaker, now based with auctioneers and valuers Lyon and Turnbull, will bring to life the treasures of one of Scotland’s most authentic stately homes.

In March, we welcome back to GAFAS a distinguished Glasgow author, who has written four of the most influential retrospective books on Art and Artists. His coverage of the Glasgow Boys, the Scottish Colourists, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architecture and furnishings, and, most recently, ‘Mackintosh and the Art of The Four’, is deep, detailed, factual and comprehensive. He has worked hard to correct the mistaken view, existing for many years, that Mackintosh was the acknowledged leader of the group. He has painstakingly highlighted the equally creative and independent images and designs of the other three, the Macdonald sisters and Bertie McNair. It is a gripping revelation, and the images are wonderful.

In April, we will paddle to the tidal island of Lindisfarne, a mile off the Northumberland coast. Known as the Holy Isle, it is accessible only at low tide, crossing sand and mudflats, habitats protected by the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Lindisfarne Priory was founded by St Aidan in 634, and in the 8th century, a famous illustrated manuscript, known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, was made there, one of the finest works in early Anglo-Saxon history. They are written on vellum, in a wide variety of coloured pigments imported from Mediterranean countries, and Lapis Lazuli from the Himalayas. They are bound in rich leather, and decorated with jewels and metals. Impeccably and brilliantly designed, they are one of the most amazing elaborate and beautiful documents in existence, held now in the British Library.

In May, we travel to Vienna to be immersed in the delights of the city during the 1890s and the first half of the 20th century. Artists and musicians there were breaking away from the established institutions, to follow their own creative paths, just as had been happening in other similar breakaway movements in Europe, the Hague School, the French impressionists, and the Barbizon School. Klimt and Mahler were pioneers of ground-breaking styles in art and music respectively, and this inevitably resulted in a fall-out with those of the old school who still clung to outmoded fashions. These major conflicts will be explored, accompanied by excerpts of Mahler’s magical music, and images of Klimt’s incredible gold-leaf masterpieces.

Our last foray of the programme, in June, is to London, at a time when satirical art, already established by William Hogarth, became re-invigorated by the caricaturist James Giillray, whose keen sense of the ludicrous, poking fun at every level of society, brought him great success. He was especially focused on King George 3rd, Politicians, and Generals…Napoleon became enraged at being depicted as a spoilt brat in a tantrum. Gillray was in no way inhibited by the personal disaster of losing an arm in battle, and became a much-loved and respected illustrator of comic and hilarious situations in all walks of life. It will be fun to bring our programme to a close with a good giggle.

Alan Macdonald