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Bishop's Stortford Decorative & Fine Arts Society hosting online talks on the traditional arts of Kosovo, architecture of travel and King Henry VIII's legendary tournament

A series of lectures hosted by Bishop's Stortford Decorative & Fine Arts Society begins in March. The society's publicity co-ordinator and former chair Karen Brady looks ahead to the talks, which will be shown online...

In these times of limitation, many have turned to the internet to look to a wider horizon. For this reason, Bishop's Stortford Decorative & Fine Arts Society (BSDFAS) is making its arts lectures available for a wider audience.

BSDFAS has been active for more than 45 years. It is a member of the national Arts Society, bringing people together through a shared curiosity for the arts.

In recent years, this has meant meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at South Mill Arts. Members gather in the morning for a coffee with friends, followed by a lecture on a wide variety of topics falling within a broad definition of the arts. These include painting, architecture, music, social history and much more.

When faced with the restrictions of lockdown, the committee responded by moving the monthly lectures online via Zoom. This means that members can still enjoy their monthly entertainment with the ability to ask questions via the Zoom link. This month members enjoyed a lecture on the art and culture of Mexico.

With the restrictions on public gatherings continuing, the society would now like to open its virtual doors to guests so that these lively lectures can be enjoyed by anyone with an internet connection.

The society is offering the opportunity to join the next three lectures – which take place on March 9, April 13 and May 11 – for a single payment of £10.

To take up this offer or for more information about the society's activities, visit tasbs.org.uk or email info@tasbs.org.uk.

March 9 The Silver Thread: Silver Filigree and Traditional Arts of Kosovo

This talk will be given by Elizabeth Gowing, an Oxford graduate who lived in Kosovo for many years.

Elizabeth Gowing
Elizabeth Gowing

From its early silver mines, which are mentioned in Dante, through to the 20th-century politics over its mines which resulted in both a war and a golf course, a silver thread winds through Kosovo's history.

Its most intricate tanglings are in the country's cultural capital, Prizren, where a seventh generation of filigree artisans use 'filum' and 'granum', zigzags, 'mouse-tooth' designs and other twists and turns to magic lacy creations from dull sticks of raw material.

The results – in boxes, buttons, jewellery, religious ornamentation and the talismans of superstition – are a fine narrative of Kosovo's history and traditions.

April 13 Art and Architecture of Travel

Sarah Pearson, who is a lecturer and writer on architecture, will be talking about how the infrastructure of travel has provided many architectural treasures, from the thatched petrol station of Blashford in Hampshire to the futuristic styling of Los Angeles International Airport.

This lecture will examine the art and architecture of travelling as well as often-overlooked gems, including bus and railway stations, travel posters and tube stations.

Leading artists and architects in the sphere of travel, including John Hassall, Fougasse, Leslie Green and Richard Rogers will be examined.

Sarah Pearson
Sarah Pearson

May 11 Diplomacy with Axe, Lance and Sword: The Field of the Cloth of Gold (June 7-24, 1520)

Toby Capwell is curator of arms and armour at the Wallace Collection in London and an internationally-acknowledged authority on medieval and renaissance weapons. An author and keen jouster, he had the unusual honour in 2015 of serving as one of the two fully-armoured horsemen escorting the remains of King Richard III from the battlefield at Bosworth to their final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.

King Henry VIII was a great jouster and skilled swordsman, but he only ever fought one field battle - The Battle of the Spurs against the French in 1513.

The ensuing Anglo-French peace treaty was followed in 1520 by an attempt to outlaw all war between Christian kingdoms.

Toby Capwell
Toby Capwell

At the Field of the Cloth of Gold, in the Pas de Calais, Henry met French king Francis I in a lavish courtly spectacle. The meeting took the form of an enormous tournament, with jousts and other supposedly-friendly combats taking place over more than two weeks.

Despite being one of the most famous events in Tudor history, the nature of the martial contests themselves has remained largely mysterious. This lecture will attempt to uncover both the splendour and the sinister undertones of this extraordinary moment in history.

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