Jo Mabbutt

Decorative Art

Lectures and Talks

Current talks available for Women’s Institute, Probus, U3A, Embroiderers Guilds and other special interest groups:

Gilded Glories – the fabulous world of gilded decoration. Looking at Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus, palatial interiors and exteriors, the use of gilding in fine art including Gustav Klimpt’s erotic ‘Golden Period’ paintings, the actual production of gold leaf, the 2009 Turner Prize winner and 21st century designer food, decorative art and body ornament.

The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers – the colourful history of one of the City of London’s oldest Livery Companies. The Paynters and Steyners came together in 1502 to form the Painter-Stainers’ Company and for over the 700 years have decorated Royal palaces, coaches and barges, heraldic banners and arms, churches, theatres and buildings (interiors and exteriors), decorations for Midsummer Shows and Lord Mayor’s pageants, funeral banners, portraits, landscapes, clocks, organ pipes, and structures for Court and civic ceremonies. Involved in the forming of the Royal Academy, the Company has supported education and training of both fine art and decorative painted craftwork for centuries.

The City Livery Companies - an insight into their medieval beginnings as craft guilds, their halls and traditional ceremonies, their continued support of trades and professions, their strong commitment to charitable causes and their part in the system of local government in the City of London

Living Colour – We know what colours are, we sometimes feel how they affect us but without knowing why. Colours have different meanings in various cultures and this is also linked with their psychological effects. They have had both positive and negative associations and have gone in and out of fashion over the centuries. Colour relationships are explained, we touch on colour psychology and explore myths and superstitions associated with certain colours and combinations.

East Meets West – Influences from beyond Europe on our Art & Culture. Looking at far-flung civilisations such as Japan, Egypt and India and showing how their art, craft and cultures were transmogrified into our interiors, textiles & fashion, architecture, advertising and product design.

Gilding the Lace - Jo has developed various techniques for gilding onto lace, crochet and tatting and also uses different metallic media. She also prints with lace which results in delicate gilded designs. She produces framed gilded antique lace and prints, jewellery, fashion accessories, interior items (gilded glass, wood & ceramics) and Christmas decorations & cards. She also collaborates with other designers. Jo talks about her journey through experimental surface design and the development of her work over the last 6 years.

NADFAS Lectures

Artists and the Theatre

For painters and sculptors the theatre exerts an irresistible pull. Scenery flourished from the Renaissance - artists Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael produced designs and devices for plays, fêtes and masques, the sculptor Bramante brought perspective to the stage. For the early Stuart court Inigo Jones devised evocative designs for court ballets.

Serge Diaghilev commissioned over 20 avant garde painters such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque to provide scenery and costumes for the Ballet Russes and British ballet companies worked with home grown talent - Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel and John Piper in the 1940s and 50s then later from the 1970s David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Gerald Scarfe amongst others who created designs for ballet and opera.

Modern, abstract designs have evolved with Ballet Rambert working with Bridget Riley and sculptors have also contributed to choreography – Usamu Noguchi with Martha Graham and Anthony Gormley with Buddhist Shaolin monks.

What is a Painter-Stainer ? Inside an Ancient City Livery Company

Originally created as two companies in the 1200s to protect their respective trades, the Paynters and Steyners came together in 1502. For centuries the Painter-Stainers decorated Royal palaces, coaches and barges, heraldic banners and arms, churches and even theatres. Disputes with other Livery Companies and the College of Heralds run through their history and artists such as Sir James Thornhill and Sir Godfrey Kneller were members producing ephemeral decorations for Lord Mayor’s pageants to portraits and landscapes. Key to the creation of the Royal Academy, the Company has welcomed many prominent academicians from Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lord Leighton to Sir Hugh Casson. Today the company continues to support education and training of both fine and decorative art. The Company has affiliations with the armed forces and eleven Painter-Stainer Liverymen have served as Lord Mayor of London since 1922.

Gilded Glories – The Fascinating History of Gilded Decoration

The art of beating gold leaf and gilding dates back to ancient Egypt. Gold leaf is nearly 500 times thinner than aluminium foil and traditionally craftsmen pounded gold for hours to create sheets thin enough to cover the most finely detailed surfaces. For over 22 centuries from Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus to Rachel Whiteread’s gilded frieze for the Whitechapel Gallery, skilled artisans have exploited paper-thin metal leaf to enrich materials such as wood, metal, marble, leather, paper, glass, porcelain and textiles – even food and drink. Artists and craftsmen have illuminated manuscripts and icons, decorated noble houses from top to bottom, adorned domes inside and out, embellished erotic canvases and gilded chocolate and schnapps. Gold leaf continues to be used as the ultimate faux decoration and dazzling ornamentation.

Behind the London Livery Companies – Objects and Stories

Over the centuries the Livery Companies of the City of London have accumulated fascinating treasures. Quirky, little known and intriguing, from illuminated ordinance books to cups for toasting and chains of office plus objects which represent their craft and trade reveal their history and their vital importance to the commercial life of the City of London. Reinventing themselves despite ravages of fire and warfare, challenges to their monopolies and the disappearance of certain trades, today they are revived and thrive with 31 modern companies formed since 1945. Surprisingly 42 Halls have survived or been rebuilt. These historic buildings, the setting for the private life of the Livery, retain commissioned portraits, furniture, silver and stained glass. Rare and curious items reveal the stories behind some of the world’s oldest crafts and guilds which have kept pace with modern times and are still very relevant today.

The Thames – The Theatre of Pageantry and Pleasure

London’s grandest thoroughfare for centuries, the Thames has hosted royal weddings and state funerals, fireworks and pyrotechnics, music and masques, coronations and Lord Mayors’ pageants, processions and civic festivities. Teaming with life and busy with shipping, the City’s life-blood has also been the playground of both royalty and the common man. Noble buildings and palaces rose along the river, private and public pleasure gardens swept down to the banks and the shores have been the playground to the children of the East End and happy hunting ground for mudlarks, scavengers and archeologists. The Thames has inspired poets, artists, composers and chroniclers. In Edmund Spenser’s words it has ‘dansed as a stage’, the setting for frost fairs and masques, races for royal yachts and rowing boats, pleasure trips and regattas.

The Power and Psychology of Colour

We know what colours are, we sometimes feel how they affect us but without knowing why. What do they mean and how did they acquire their importance and significance? From ancient times colour has been used symbolically in religion, for identification, visibility and symbolism in battle and to reorganise society with a ‘grammar of colour’ identifying class, profession and status. Colours have had both positive and negative associations and have gone in and out of fashion over the centuries – some due to the development of dyes, paints and pigments and others due to changing social and political hierarchies. Colours have different meanings in various cultures and this is also linked with their psychological effects. This affects us deeply in all that surrounds us.