Wessex Area

The Arts Society works nationally to advance arts education and appreciation, alongside promoting the preservation of artistic and cultural heritage.  We are a UK-based charity with over 80,000 members supporting a network of 376 local societies worldwide.

Wessex Area stretches from Pewsey Vale in the north to Poole in the south with 18 societies. To see the date & time of all the Wessex societies, please download the file in 'Attachments' on the right side of this window.

Our societies bring together groups of like-minded individuals through their individual programmes of monthly lectures by top experts, special interest days, visits, tours, and a range of volunteering activities.  Society and supporter members can become involved in worthwhile conservation volunteering projects in churches, museums, castles, historic houses and more.  Our Heritage Volunteers and Arts Volunteers offer invaluable help to many public institutions, enhancing and encouraging the appreciation and understanding of art and our artistic and cultural heritage.

You are warmly invited to become a member and discover an enjoyable way to expand your knowledge of the arts, make new friendships, and have fun!  If you would like to contact a society with a view to becoming a member, just click on a name on the list here to find their website. 

If you are unable to join a Society, we have ‘Supporters’ too; it means that you receive an Arts magazine three times a year where you can find out about those events which are open to non-members including attending special interest days, and joining volunteers in their work in arts, trails, and  heritage projects. 

The AreaTeam runs our very popular study series across the Area.

These events are designed to give a more in-depth understanding of the topics than the monthly lectures in the societies.​ Monies raised by our events go towards funding our Arts Volunteering projects across Wessex and in our societies. All our events can be booked by going to www.tickettailor.com/events/theartssocietywessexarea

On 25th April 2024, in the Kennet Valley Hall, near Marlborough, our superb study day 'Discovering early 20thC German Art'  The accredited lecturer will be Colin Pink for the three one-hour talks.  This day is open to all members of The Arts Society and non-members.

10:30 - The Rise of German Expressionism

12 noon - The Art of Weimar Germany

14:00 - The Fate of Art in the Nazi period

15:00 - Close 

Book on https://www.tickettailor.com/events/theartssocietywessexarea

On 22nd May, we invite you to our 2nd study day (online only) of German Expressionism 'Discovering early 20thC German Art' with lecturer Monica Bohm-Duchen.

Starting at 16:30, the first lecture: Why Secondary? Women Artists and the Expressioinish Movement;

2nd lecture: Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British Visual Culture. 

For more information and to book your tickets to these fascinating talks on www.tickettailor.com/events/theartssocietywessexarea . Any queries please email Caroline on wessexconnectedevents@gmail.com

For all our events in Wessex Area, please go to: www.tickettailor.com/events/theartssocietywessexarea 

Our 2024/2025 Winter Study series of 5 days will be 'The Silk Road - Art, History and Exploration".  This wonderful series of lectures begins on 15th October 2024 with lecturer Susan Whitfield.  Bookings can be made for the 5 days or individual days:  www.tickettailor.com/events/theartssocietywessexarea 

Fees: 5 days @£165 / individual days @ £35   Online: 5 days @ £100 / individual days @ £20

DAY 1 – 15 October 2024 with lecturer Dr. Susan Whitfield

The Silk Road – Art, history and exploration

1. Introduction to its History and Cultures. A general context-setting lecture, illustrated with maps and artefacts, giving an outline of what we mean by the Silk Road and introducing some of the major events and cultures along it in the first millennium AD.

2. Exploration and Discovery. This tells the story of the early 20th imperial archaeologists of the Silk Road, concentrating on the British/Hungarian, Sir Aurel Stein, and how he uncovered forgotten civilisations of the Silk Road from the desert sands of the Taklamakan. His finds are now mainly in the British Museum and British Library.

3. Art. This lecture introduces several wonderful pieces of art exemplifying the transmissions and interactions of peoples, faiths, technologies, materials and designs along the Silk Road. The objects include a gilt silver flask, a glass bowl, and a patterned sil

DAY 2 – 12 November 2024 with lecturer Christopher Bradley

Treasures from journeys along the Silk Road.

The Silk Road extends over 8,000 kms from China through Central Asia to the Mediterranean. The route acted as a highway for beliefs, ideas, inventions and art, whilst silk was just one of the many valuable commodities traded for 1,400 years. With the Greek invasion of Alexander the Great, early Persian routes spread east towards India. Chinese stability finally allowed the trade of silk, jade and ceramics in exchange for horses, pearls and gold. The wonderful paintings in the Magao caves at Dunhuang are evidence of the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road. Samarkand and Bukhara are the beginning of the great Islamic buildings that continue through Persia and Syria. Along the way we will see traditional murals, ceramics, statues, carpets, architecture, tile-work and of course silk itself.

DAY 3 – 14 January 2025 with lecturer James Allen

Islamic art and architecture

1. Arabic calligraphy. The destruction wrought by Muslim fundamentalists is only one side of Islam, and Islamic art is outstanding for its serenity, its elegance, and its beauty. Lectures 1 and 2 introduce Islamic art through its three most widely appreciated strands. In the first lecture we shall look at the art of Arabic calligraphy, the supreme art of the Islamic world. Don’t worry, you do not have to know Arabic to enjoy it and appreciate its beauty! The lecture will teach the basic elements of the Arabic script and illustrate many of the styles of calligraphy which developed in different parts of the Islamic world. It will also draw attention to the role of Arabic calligraphy in Middle Eastern politics today.

2. Geometry, the Arabesque and Figural Art, looking at geometry and the arabesque, following the latter into the range of floral designs current in later Islamic art. We shall see too how geometry and the arabesque combine to make highly intricate, but deeply satisfying, designs in a range of media. There is another element to Islamic art, however, figural art. It is mistakenly believed, both by Muslims and non-Muslims, that Islamic art is non-representational. We shall explore Islamic art’s figural side, and show how widespread figural art really is, even, most surprisingly, in some religious settings, highlighting sectarian divides in the Islamic world.

3. Domes and Minarets: Mosques of the Islamic world. Images of Romanesque or Gothic cathedral architecture may linger in our memories, but many of us would be pressed to describe a typical mosque. We shall look at three of the most important forms, typified by the Friday Mosque in Cordova (now the Cathedral), the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul, and the Royal Mosque in Isfahan. The lecture explores their different styles, and the minarets and domes that enhance their skylines, and illustrates the rich designs, whether in mosaic, tile, or other media, that adorn these buildings. It also asks whether sectarian differences between Sunni and Shia belief affect mosque design.

DAY 4 – 18 February 2025 with lecturer Sue Rollin

From Samarkand to the Taj Mahal – Central Asia and the great Mughals

Under the great conqueror Tamerlaine and his successors Central Asia experienced a Golden Age. Samarkand and other cities were endowed with splendid monuments, art, literature and science flourished. Babur, the last of the Timurids, expelled from his homeland, went on to conquer India and found the Mughal empire. There the Mughal emperors presided over magnificent royal courts and sponsored creative building which reached its apogee in the Taj Mahal.

For information, my rough intention is that this day might act as an introduction to the winter series for 2025/6, in tracing the impact of the Mughals and other cultures on the evolution of the Indian sub-continent. That will be arranged in 2024, but any thoughts on that are welcome!

DAY 5 – 18 March 2025 with lecturer Chris Aslan

Unravelling the Silk Road

Wool, cotton and silk have each played a crucial role in the fortunes of Central Asia. Wool created the clothing and housing needed by the great nomadic cultures that were to dominate Middle Asia. Silk was more valuable than gold and used as currency, creating a network of trading routes that led to the first outbreak of globalisation. Cotton was the cause of Russian and then Soviet Colonisation and continues to cause controversy today as well as human misery and environmental catastrophe The felts, carpets, embroideries, robes and veils of the Silk Road stratified wealth, displayed religious and political entrenchments and changed the fortunes of this fascinating part of the world; a meeting place between Mohammed and Marx.

The Area also encourages and promotes Heritage Volunteering projects, Arts Volunteering activities and Trails of Discovery projects.  Members of these volunteering activities enjoy working together as a team, exploring new interests and learning new skills. Click here to see what Volunteering is all about.

All Wessex societies welcome new members so please do click on a society near you (the list of Wessex societies is on the right) to see all about that society. Each society holds monthly Lectures as well as Visits to special places and Study Days for a more indepth look at a topic.  Some societies also do Tours abroad which are focussed on the Arts at that location. Guests are always most welcome to attend society events.

Do join us - the Arts Society is all about people enjoying the Arts - do browse our website and visit the societies by clicking the links on the right, and we hope you will enjoy what the Arts Society has to offer.

A list of the day & time each Wessex Area society holds its lecture meeting can be downloaded in the Attachments on the right.

Susie Pearson, Wessex Area Chairman




A magical journey along The Silk Road through central Asia in Cerne Abbas, Dorset and online

Cerne Abbas
Cerne Abbas Village Hall

Join us for Day 1 of this magical journey on The Silk Road in Cerne Abbas and online


Join us for Day 2 of The Silk Road: Treasures fro journeys along the Silk Road