An arts organisation in Huddersfield, which brings internationally-renowned speakers to the town, is calling on culture lovers to ‘come and join us’.
“We’d love to see new members,” says Lizzie Booth, the new chairman of the West Riding Decorative and Fine Arts Society, “but I don’t think a lot of people know who we are or what we do.
“We have a programme of professional speakers, including those from the BBC Antiques Roadshow, who deliver talks on all sorts of subjects – not just painting and art, but every branch of the arts.”
The National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies, to which the Huddersfield-based group belongs, is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and will soon be announcing a re-branding (replacing the long-winded title) to take the organisation into the next half century.
Phenomenally successful in many areas and with an international membership, the association has more than 280 accredited lecturers and organises day trips and cultural holidays.
In Huddersfield, however, Lizzie feels that the society is something of a hidden gem, one of the town’s best-kept secrets. And she wants to change all that, swelling numbers so that members can take a more active role in arts and heritage conservation. She said: “I think there are a lot of people who would love the lectures; we get some really fantastic speakers and we have lovely trips – this year we’re going to the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle and last year we went to Port Sunlight near Liverpool. We’ve just got to get the message out there.”
The society has an annual programme of lectures, delivered in the Bronte Lecture Theatre, Huddersfield University, on the third Thursday in the month. Coming up on February 16 is a talk by Yorkshire artist Ghislaine Howard on modern painting, From Impressionism to Yesterday. The March lecture, by Alan Read, entitled How Lord Elgin Gained and Lost his Marbles, will cover the 200th anniversary of the British acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures.
Future speakers include an expert on the world’s foremost glass artist Dale Chihuly (who created the V & A Museum’s glass sculpture) and a chintz and chinoiserie specialist.
As well as an educational role, the society gives grants to other arts organisations and students. The West Riding group, for example, has supported family and childrens’ workshops at both the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Gallery.
Membership is £45 a year, to cover the cost of nine lectures. Members of the public can attend a sample lecture for £5. For details of the lecture programme visit wrdfas.co.uk