There was a real buzz when members and guests of the Arts Society Wokingham gathered at Moor Close, Newbold College, on a warm, sunny August afternoon.
Some chose to start with refreshments including a wide selection of delicious homemade cakes (prepared by ladies from the Committee).
Another group went on a tour of the premises led by Elena. She explained that the gardens were designed by Oliver Hill in 1910 before the site was purchased by the College in 1945.
They are currently in need of renovation, but walking around the group could see that Hill’s original concept included beautiful terraces, circular brick steps, pergolas, stairs, balustrades and lily ponds.
Hopefully the College will get the necessary funding for the renovation these gardens so deserve.
Members and guests were hesitant to leave in the late afternoon, but they all agreed that the Society should make it an annual event.
A few days later, the Society hosted another successful event: a study day featuring Andy McConnell speaking about the history of glassmaking.
Andy, a presenter from the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ was originally scheduled to speak to members in 2020, but due to the pandemic the study day had been postponed.
Despite the delay, it did not disappoint.
He made the audience laugh with his many anecdotes before getting down to business on glass making.
He got his audience to stop and think about what becomes possible with glass, whether it’s having natural light in our homes, being able to see properly while wearing glasses, or the wonders of the optical fiber.
He then took them through the history of decorative glass by explaining the different techniques of shaping and decorating glass and the effect that social etiquette and fashion had on their design.
Both the Society’s study days are about going deeper into a subject, but also about the social breaks in between.
The Wokingham Theater foyer provided an ideal space for members to chat over morning coffee and a delicious sandwich lunch.
In the afternoon, Andy talked about each of the pieces of glass brought in by the members. The most interesting were those with a background story like the iridescent glass vase called carnival glass because it was often a prize at American fairgrounds, the celery vase named as a utilitarian item to avoid taxes, and the glass bottle with a ball in the neck invented by Codds of Camberwell for soft drinks.
The day was summed up perfectly when Andy was thanked for giving the members the best Wednesday we’ve all had in ages…which surprisingly left him briefly speechless.
Next season, the Society has planned a varied program of monthly conferences, visits and study days. Why not come and learn how to put on a play from an actor’s point of view, listen to Marc Alum’s fascinating stories of his life as an auctioneer, appreciate Sorolla’s paintings (full of life and color), study the details of “Guernica” by Picasso and enjoy the beauty of ancient Palmyra: the “Bride of the Desert”?
The first lecture on September 19 at 7:45 p.m. not only unveils the meaning of the 15th-century Ghent Altarpiece, but explores its later history, including its discovery by the Monument Men in 1945.
For further details, please visit the Society’s website, www.The ArtsSocietyWokingham.org.uk