I am a skilled, enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker and regularly give talks, seminars and study days on areas I have written about and other areas within 20thC design, antiques, collecting, and the decorative arts. My talks are packed with facts, opinion, context and take-home information. I am an Accredited Lecturer for The Arts Society (previously known as NADFAS) and I have also spoken at locations ranging from village halls and local bookshops to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Although I undertake formal lectures, my style is informal, energetic and friendly – but always professional.
All lectures and talks are accompanied by an illustrated Powerpoint presentation and I am always delighted to end with a lively and challenging Q&A session. Where possible, I also bring a few examples of the objects that I am talking about, so that they can be handled by the audience.
Fees & Expenses
Lectures and talks are £420 each and study days or seminars are £680 per day. Each lecture or talk lasts just over one hour, plus a related Q&A session. Study days or seminars are usually comprised of two lectures of your choice from the list below, and interactive identification, valuation and Q&A sessions – a little like a personal ‘Antiques Roadshow’. I am flexible, so if you have another idea, let’s talk.
Travelling expenses and, if necessary, reasonable overnight expenses (in a Premier Inn, Holiday Inn, or similar budget hotel chain – please no guest houses or B&Bs unless tried and tested!) are charged additionally at cost. I book trains at standard class well in advance to secure low prices. I am not registered for VAT so do not charge it. Please click here to contact me for costs of other types of event, which I would be delighted to tailor to your wishes.
Online ‘Zoom’ Lectures
I also offer most of my lectures via Zoom, and have successfuly completed over 70 Zoom lectures or webinars during Covid lockdowns. Please see the notes below to learn which lectures work well on Zoom. Online lectures last around 60 minutes, followed by an optional Q&A session. The cost per online lecture is £320, with no additional costs such as VAT or (obviously!) travelling costs. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss or arrange an online lecture for your Arts Society members.
Please see a full list of my talks and lectures below. If you would like me to speak on another subject that is not listed below, please click here to contact me.
NEW – Selfies, Self-Expression, Celebrity & The Victorian Carte de Visite (Suitable for Zoom)
From the late 1850s to the mid-1870s a new craze gripped the world. Photography had just begun to be popularised, and suddenly nearly everyone could afford a portrait of themselves to share with others. These small photographic portraits mounted on card were shot professionally in studios and handed out like business or greetings cards – just like we share ‘selfies’ on today’s social media. Across nearly two decades, over 400 million cards were estimated to have been printed and shared with friends, family, and fans. We think we invented the ‘selfie’, but we didn’t – welcome to the Victorian carte de visite.
In this highly visual and relevant lecture, we’ll look at the rise and fall of the fashion, learn how these cards were used, and find ways of dating cards from clothing and hairstyles. We’ll examine in detail the hidden meanings behind the poses, facial expressions, backgrounds, and choice of clothes to reveal the fascinating histories behind these cards that were used by everyone from royalty to the man in the street.
NEW – Regency Revelations – The Private Journal of a Regency Dandy
“He was the most spiteful, sly, and vindictive and wicked man I have ever met.” Written by his nephew, this brutally honest inscription begins one volume of the lost private journals of John Margesson Esq (1794-1866), which was discovered by chance in a quantity of books bought on eBay in 2010. Covering two years of Margesson’s life, from Summer 1831 to Summer 1833, the journal begins with his return from exile in France to the Sussex country house where he grew up, before moving to London, and ending in Rome via France. Written for himself in beautiful copperplate, he gives an intimate and intensely personal glimpse into his life, his wanderings and his musings as he goes about his daily life. In this lively and entertaining lecture, we’ll take the role of a private detective and use his words and supporting research to piece together this Regency man of means, including:
• The potentially scandalous story behind his mysterious exile
• His walks through, and observations of, Regency London
• His obsessions with the weather, health, and the meaning of life
• His daily life and finances
• His love of gardens and botany
• His sexuality.
Each element will be put into the context of the age and will be illustrated with etchings, illustrations and, where possible, photographs. We’ll also examine the current affairs and notable characters he mentions and how they were received and perceived at the time by a wealthy, well-connected, and often very opinionated ‘gentleman’.
Undressing Antiques (Suitable for Zoom)
“Antiques. I don’t understand them and they’re beyond my budget. Nobody even collects anymore. They’re not for me.” A persuasive introduction to buying antiques and integrating and using them in today’s homes. The state of the antiques market and the different meanings of the word value are considered, and we take a look at what current and future generations of collectors are buying, why they are buying it and how they are displaying it.
Curves, Colours & Cool: An Introduction to Mid-Century Modern (Suitable for Zoom)
The antiques market has changed dramatically and now pieces that were made during the 1970s can fetch many times more than a piece made in the 1770s. Why has the teak sideboard you threw out become so desirable? Who is this Eames guy? Drawing a blank with Timo Sarpaneva? Who’s buying what and what are they doing with it? Focusing on Scandinavia, Italy, America and Great Britain, this practical and inspirational lecture looks at furniture, ceramics, glass, lighting and metalware, identifies key designs and designers, and the examines the revolutionary design movements they began.
Hot Stuff! The Birth of Studio Glass (Suitable for Zoom)
Although glass has been made for centuries, the 1960s saw a revolution in the way it was made, opening it up to artists across the world. After looking at the historical context and the genesis of the movement, I examine the work of six key glass artists from the US and the UK, including Dale Chihuly, Sam Herman, and Peter Layton. Containing previously unseen photographs taken at the time, this talk also includes my top tips and an overview of the market today and the creative journey made by glassmakers so far.
Legends of Czech Glass (Suitable for Zoom)
The 1950s–70s saw a renaissance in Czech glass design that re-established the Bohemian region’s global reputation in this area. From behind the Iron Curtain, skilled designers pushed the boundaries of 20th century glass design and produced unique art glass masterpieces that went on to inspire visually stunning, highly innovative and commercial ranges. Despite this, the designers responsible were rarely named. Until today, the designs they produced have been typically forgotten or misattributed. This lecture reveals the work of seven influential designers across cut, blown and pressed glass, and considers the economic and political context that affected it.
Michael Harris – Mdina Glass & Isle of Wight Studio Glass (Suitable for Zoom)
Michael Harris was one of the innovators of the international studio glass movement and transformed 20thC glass and its creation. His pioneering work at Mdina Glass on Malta and, later, at Isle of Wight Studio Glass is examined, including influences, production techniques, major ranges and the heritage he left behind.
Cracking Glass (Suitable for Zoom)
An overview of Britain’s ‘Big Four’ postwar glass companies, comprising Whitefriars, King’s Lynn (Wedgwood), Caithness and Dartington. As well as company and designer histories, special slides examine, compare and contrast ‘Good, Better, Best’ examples from each company. The emergence of these factories is put into context and major influences behind them are discussed. The current glut of Whitefriars fakes are covered, including tips on how to spot them.
Frank Thrower & Dartington Glass (Suitable for Zoom)
Frank Thrower was one of the most prolific and successful glass designers of the late 20th century. From the inception of Dartington Glass in 1967, he provided the creative and marketing drive that contributed to the company’s considerable success. As sole designer for almost 20 years, he produced over 700 innovative and popular designs. This lecture looks at the history of the company, Frank’s life and the major phases of, and influences behind, his well known designs.
Caithness Glass: Loch, Heather & Peat (Suitable for Zoom)
Since it was founded in 1961, Caithness Glass has become renowned across the world. For 50 years, the company fulfilled the founders’ original aims of providing employment in rural Scotland and producing high quality, modern glassware for the home. Although much is known about their paperweights, until now little has been known about the designer and influences behind the decorative and tableware designs that built and maintained the company’s reputation.
20th Century Glass – New Markets (Suitable for Zoom)
This lecture gives an overview of the most rapidly developing, popular and recently revealed areas in mid–century modern European glass. Makers covered include Mdina Glass, Wedgwood Glass and a number of the most important Czech glass factories. Key designers and designs, and the influences behind them, are examined, with ‘Gallery’ slides giving a wider understanding of each company’s production.
Fat Lava: West German Ceramics of the 1960s & 70s (Suitable for Zoom)
After firmly establishing themselves at the forefront of international ceramic design in the 1950s, modern West German ceramics underwent a second explosion in design during the 1960s, pushing boundaries of form, glaze and colour to their limits. As well as considering stylistic development, major makers, influences and the rise of the current market, keys to identification, dating and value are examined.
Alla Moda: Mid-Century Modern Italian Ceramics (Suitable for Zoom)
Stylish and colourful, Italian ceramics of the 1950s–70s reflect the many developments in ceramic design and modern art of the period. Although made in large quantities and exported across the world, until now little has been known about the companies, designers and influences behind them. Major makers from Bitossi to Fantoni to the many factories on San Marino are covered, and the identity of an important, forgotten factory is revealed.
Vintage Fountain Pens (Suitable for Zoom)
The pen is mightier than the sword! In today’s digital world of emails and tweeting, the art of writing has largely been left behind. Adding personality and individuality to communication, the tools of writing have a fascinating history dating back to prehistory and peaking in the golden age of the fountain pen in the 20th century. As well as a full history of development, major makers, keys to identification, dating and value are examined.
Pierre-Georges Jeanniot’s ‘The Horrors of War’ (Suitable for Zoom)
In 2014, the centenary of the start of World War One, I rediscovered the copper plates for Jeanniot’s shocking, graphic and historically important series of ten etchings covering the ‘Rape of Belgium’. Immediately banned when displayed in 1915, the unpublished series was subsequently lost. This lecture examines these fascinating and horrific etchings in detail, puts them in context and considers the many references to the famous, earlier war cycles by Jacques Callot and Francisco Goya. The etching process and the restoration of the plates are also covered. If you would like to book this unique lecture, please ensure you have viewed the etchings online by clicking here before doing so.
Technical Notes: I will bring a fully illustrated presentation built in a fully licensed and updated version of Microsoft Office 365 Powerpoint. I use an Apple MacBook Pro laptop, and bring the correct Apple adaptors to connect it to a standard VGA or HDMI cable on a digital projector. My lecture is also backed up on a memory stick.
I will also bring a USB laser pointer, but I do not bring a microphone due to the different sound systems in each location. A roving lapel (or similar) microphone is best, and I do not require a lectern or light.
I prefer to connect my own Mac laptop to your digital projector as, occasionally, older or different versions or the PC or Mac version of Powerpoint can cause problems with images and text.
Photo of Mark Hill lecturing by David Bartholomew.