Eastbourne News September 2020

Eastbourne News September 2020

8 Oct 2020 - 13:29 BY Viviene Lester

FROM THE CHAIR                                                                            Judith Furner 

 I write to introduce myself as the Chair of The Arts Society Eastbourne.  I was brought up and educated in Eastbourne. My husband and I moved to Hastings with our four children in the early nineteen-seventies, but were very happy to return to Eastbourne some 20 years later. I took a degree in Social Psychology at Sussex University, and went on to study Mathematics with the Open University.  I joined the M500 Society, the OU Mathematics Society, and currently sit on the committee as the Secretary and Weekend Organizer.  I have also been involved with the Association of Humanistic Psychology, and for some years ran a parent support group.

My uncle worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I have many happy memories of theatre trips with my parents.  I continue to go to the theatre as and when I can, and I joined the British Museum some years ago.  I attend lectures at Gresham College and other venues in London. 

I used to belong to a Writers' Group locally, and for many years have belonged to a Reading Group which meets monthly. I joined the Arts Society on the advice of a friend with whom I had been at school, and who is herself an artist.  I have been enormously impressed by the quality of the lectures put on by TASE, and the friendliness of the committee and members both before and after the lectures in the pleasant and comfortable Village Hall at East Dean.

I was prompted to put myself forward as Chair when we were asked, as members, to contribute to the work of the committee.  Little did I know how we were to be precipitated into the greatest civic disruption of my lifetime and, after one meeting, our communication has been electronic, using the telephone, e-mail and Zoom.  I very much look forward to the end of lockdown, to returning to East Dean Village Hall for lectures, to meeting members in person, and to taking forward the already vibrant work of TASE.


MEMBERSHIP                                                                                 Maggie Clive-Matthews

The arrival of the Covid-19 virus made a huge difference to TASE activities and we sadly had to cancel our March, April and May lectures. As a result, all the subscription renewals had to be carried out by email or by post for the first time which took rather longer than usual. However, members were still keen to support the Society and we have our full list of 205 members again with 15 new members welcomed from the waiting list, which now stands at 25. This is the lowest for many years and it is taking about 15 months instead of the previous 2 years to reach the top of the list.

TAS headquarters have arranged an excellent series of online lectures and information pieces of interest which have kept us all in touch and will give us something to look forward to until we can all meet again, hopefully in December.


LECTURES AT HOME                                                                   Nick Clive-Matthews

For the many of us suffering withdrawal symptoms from our regular TASE culture injection, the online Lectures at Home series, available at connected.theartssociety.org, have been offering a fortnightly chance to invite some of the cream of the Arts Society Lecturers into our homes to speak on a variety of different topics. Coupled with the Instant Expert articles on alternate weeks, there has been an opportunity to widen our knowledge in many different fields.

We started with a detailed explanation of the history and significance of the Velázquez painting ‘Las Meninas’, followed by a fascinating lecture on early 16th century Venetian art, then a really interesting talk on the revolutionary new techniques in British glass making introduced in the 1960s. Later on we had Marc Allum from the Antiques Roadshow talking about some of his personal collection and all of these lectures revealed aspects of the development and history of art of which I suspect most of us were unaware.

The two which particularly stood out for me though were Nicola Moorby on J M W Turner and the new £20 note and Rebecca Hassock on Aboriginal Art. Nicola’s explanation of the significance of Turner’s selection to feature on the new banknote and its importance to the world of British art coupled with her detailed description of the design, not just with reference to the artist’s work, life and legacy but also to the clever blending with its security measures, really brought her subject to life, quite literally at the end.

Rebecca’s lecture also really caught the viewer’s attention with her obvious enthusiasm for her subject. She managed to combine a brief history of Australia’s indigenous people, together with the appalling treatment they have received over the years, with a background of their very ancient and different styles of art, as well as how they developed according to their many different language groups and cultures. The descriptions of the three paintings taken from her own collection and the histories and stories of their artists, especially Clifford Possum’s trip to Buckingham Palace, was particularly rewarding and I am sure will have inspired many of us to put viewing Aboriginal Art on our post-lockdown list of activities.

The Arts Society has certainly come up trumps on this and there are more talks and articles to come. If you have not watched any yet I cannot recommend them highly enough.

FUTURE VISITS                                                                                         The Visits Team

What a shame that we had to cancel our visit to Leeds Castle in April. I hope that the plentiful sunshine has compensated everyone during these trying times. 

However, I am in touch with their booking office, and have provisionally requested our visit for Thursday 22nd April 2021 to enjoy a tour of the Castle, the splendid gardens and a special private lecture on some of their treasures.

When we meet again in December I look forward to confirming the visit so that we can save the date - Thursday 22nd April 2021. Until then, I hope you all stay fit and well and we can meet again in December.

Best wishes, Helen Gillott.


The proposed day trip to Portsmouth has been postponed until next September. Our thanks to Janet Fortnum and Diana Guthrie for offering to organise this again as circumstances permit. 


LECTURE PROGRAMME                                                                              Chris Pulling

With the proposed first meeting of the Season taking place in December, I’m sure we will all be looking forward to hearing Leslie Primo’s lecture on’ The Journey of the Magi – Origins, Myths & Reality’. With warm thoughts of meeting up with friends and familiar faces, taking our seats in the Hall, as we sit back and enjoy an illuminating lecture. I am pleased to confirm that all cancelled lectures have now been re-scheduled for September 2021.

Details of this can be found on the membership card and will be updated on the Arts Society website.

You may also be interested in Sussex Area Special Interest Days, who offering the following topics for 2021:-  

1st March     Music and Art 1450-1800 What Does the Painting Sound Like - Adam Busiakiewicz

29th March  The Sublime to the Ridiculous: Hogarth, Reynolds and Gillray - Linda Smith

4th May       Magic Lanterns to MGM, the Birth of the Silver Screen and the Art That Surrounded It                    - Geri Parlby 

The lectures take place at The Ark in Turners Hill, tickets can be purchased to include lunch. Further information will be on the Sussex Area Website, or please contact Chris Pulling.


FROM THE TREASURER                                                                                   Chris Dye

I have only been Treasurer of your Society for 8 months (since 1st December 2019) and have been so impressed with the loyalty and positive attitude of members. This has been such an exceptional time for all of us, but your committee is determined to keep the Society strong and most importantly, ensure that we are all safe. Time will tell if we are able to start lectures again in December - let us hope!

The finances of the Society have been somewhat complex during these uncertain times, but I wanted to let you know of our thought processes in setting the 2020/2021 subscriptions. My priority was of course, to ensure that we remained financially viable! However it was equally important to make members feel that they were being treated fairly and would therefore continue to support the Society. I proposed to Committee members that we should continue to keep in reserve enough money to fund one year's running costs to protect us from any further future unforeseen shocks, any remaining reserves should be used to reduce subscriptions as much as possible. Although we still have administration and running costs, as we will have only three lectures in this financial year, expenses are reduced. Members may not be aware that we are duty bound to pay a number of levies per member to the National and Area administration plus contribute to the national insurance policy. In total this year, that works out to be £13.68 per member. You will therefore see that the element of your £28 subscription that goes directly to the Arts Society, Eastbourne is only £14.32. I do hope you will agree that this is both good value for money and fair.

Much thought has gone into getting this right and by the response of our members (a full complement of 205) it looks like you agree with our thought process! I understand some Societies have struggled to retain members and keep solvent, but thanks to your commitment and our attempts to be fair, The Arts Society of Eastbourne is as strong as ever and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support during these unprecedented times.

YOUNG ARTS                                                                                            Patricia Ollivere

We have three exciting projects on the go at present. We continue to support, along with 22 other Sussex     Arts Societies, our student at West Dean College.

Earlier in the year we gave a donation to the Towner Gallery for their summer events which were to include an Artist in Residence and a number of drop-in Arts and Crafts workshops.  These were obviously cancelled and our money was redirected to a very urgent and worthwhile response to the lockdown. The Towner made hundreds of creative kit bags full of art materials and activities which were distributed to those most in need and all were taken up and greatly appreciated.

Parkland School Arts Therapy Club were due to hold an exhibition of their work at Birling Gap. We have previously funded this and were due to award prizes.  We remain in contact with the school and have postponed the project until next year.

Obviously our support of Young Arts projects has been severely affected by the present circumstances but we will continue to look for opportunities to help those most in need and hope this will restart in September when the schools return.

  • AND FINALLY, FROM OUR PRESIDENT                                                        Jenny Lush

In these strange and uncertain times it is lovely to be in touch with you again and to give a very sincere and warm welcome to our new Chairman, Judith Furner.  A very special welcome, too, to our 15 new members who joined us during the summer.

Over the last five months Dorothy Watson, Vivienne Lester and Chris Dye, together with the rest of the Committee, have worked tirelessly to implement and keep us informed of the necessary changes to our programme and I thank them all for their superb efforts.

At the virtual AGM on 8th September both Dorothy and Vivienne will be retiring from being Chair and Vice-Chair of the Society.  Their professionalism, friendliness and ability to initiate new ideas during their three years in office has been outstanding.  One of the major challenges they and the Committee faced early in 2017 was the rebranding of the Society which involved a lot of hard work and much burning of midnight oil as new IT skills were mastered before we officially became TASE with a brand new logo in May that year.

So many happy and memorable events have taken place over the last three years.  Those of us who participated in the stimulating ‘Rediscover Your Society’ day in October 2017 were assured that there were numerous opportunities for volunteering within the Society and members’ participation was welcomed.  The Committee’s culinary skills have been much in evidence at the hugely enjoyable Lunch Parties for the Front of House team and new members held in Vivienne and her husband David’s lovely garden.  Special Interest Days, Young Arts projects and the increase in our charitable giving, UK and foreign holidays, interesting lectures, pleasurable visits - and delicious cake for tea after the lectures!  We thank both Dorothy and Vivienne for their significant contribution towards all  these occasions and we wish them well as they ‘retire’ to a less prominent seat within the hall for lectures.

I look forward to seeing you all again in December.


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