Chairman’s Letter 2022

January 2022

Dear Members,

Another year in which plans have been hard to make and to keep to if made. We have however managed to provide a programme throughout the year. Up until September all our events were online but in September we were able to meet the wishes of those of our members who missed meeting up to study and discuss art and architecture with other like-minded people. Those who attended the in-person events reported finding the Covid security arrangements reassuring and much enjoyed meeting up with old friends. However, by the middle of December we reverted again to running events online as the Omicron rates rose in London.

For the future we expect to offer a mix of online and in-person events and plan to send out a survey to members to find out what the majority view on the correct balance between in-person and online events should be. We know there is no answer that suits all members but we will endeavour to offer what pleases the most members.


The past couple of years have been especially demanding on those who run events and play other roles in the Society and it is imperative we recruit some new volunteers if we are to continue to offer the same high- standard but affordable events. The Committee members have nearly all put in at least a decade of service and some would like to step down. There are many roles that can be undertaken so please think about what you could offer to do to keep the Society thriving. We need people to set up and run events, help with the management of our finances (paying invoices, compiling accounts etc), take on admin work and many other tasks.  It is not necessary to stand for a place on the Committee for most of the roles but it is essential to be comfortable with IT and have access to a PC or laptop.  If you would like to offer your help or make an enquiry about what might be involved please feel free to contact me via my email address,; this email address can also be found on our website under the Contacts tab. Support from others will be available as you find your feet and the work and procedures involved are well explained in our handbook for volunteers.


We have tried out some less familiar venues this year in order to increase the space available to support social distancing. Friends House, which we have used before, offers excellent space but its rates mean we have to charge a little more for events held there. Lettsom House is central and has excellent sight lines and was judged a good venue by those who attended courses there but we are very aware that the staircase and the lack of a lift present a challenge to some of our members. Unfortunately the listed status of the building means a lift cannot be installed. If you know any good central locations available at an affordable price do please let us know. We are always on the look-out for good, affordable new venues.


Thanks to the efforts of the Review Editorial Panel led by Barrie MacDonald and the contributors we were again able to issue the Society’s annual Review despite ongoing pandemic restrictions. As usual the Review contained a wide range of interesting articles on subjects as diverse as Paula Rego, Watteau, Grinling Gibbons and Neo-Brutalism as well as an article by the winner of the London Art History Society Prize for the Best Modern Period Masters Dissertation, Sasha Morse, assessing the impact of photographs taken by female missionaries at the turn of the twentieth century.


In 2020-2021 we gave donations to the following recipients: £2,000 to The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust to help fund the fees of a student studying Picture Conservation; £2,000 to the Birkbeck Department of Art Research Fund to support MA students’ research projects; £6,000 to The Courtauld Student Hardship Fund to help Picture Conservation students to continue their studies; and £2,000 to The Wallace Collection to facilitate technical research on objects in their collection. We welcome from members suggestions of worthy organisations for future donations. If you do wish to make a nomination, there is a set of qualifying rules so please read the donations guidelines which you can find under the Donations tab on our website. Please do not discuss any nomination with the organisation until it has been approved by the Committee.


Sadly I have to announce the deaths in 2021 of two past Committee members, both of whom contributed greatly to the success of our Society over many years. Terry Bingham-Daly acted as Secretary as well as developing a computerised member database. Elizabeth Lowry-Corry served on the Committee and was a member of the Review Editorial Panel. You will find obituaries in Last Word.

I would like to thank members for the support they have given to all we have done this year. As I have said before your thanks and positive comments are the only reward received by the volunteers who run events, put together the Review, organise trips and visits, manage our communications, look after our finances, organise our donations, look after membership, act as the Society’s Secretary and provide essential support. I am sure you will join me in thanking them for all they do.

I very much hope that 2022 is a better year for all of us and we can continue to enjoy art together and most importantly in good health.

Sue Anstruther