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.

  • 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.

The Arts Society 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 Field of Cloth of Gold: 6,000 Englishmen in France for 18 days – how did they do it? - NEW

    In June 1520 Henry VIII and Francis 1 meet to ratify an Anglo-French alliance and celebrate the betrothal of Henry’s daughter Mary to the Dauphin. The two handsome ‘Renaissance Princes’ are in their 20’s with similar reputations in military prowess, sport and patrons of the arts. Both have imperial ambitions and are eager to display themselves as magnificent nobleman and warrior kings. Each brings an entourage of 6,000 to a field south of Calais for 18 days of various events and entertainments staged to display the skill and splendour of each King and country.

    The logistics of transporting, accommodating, ordering, feeding and watering, protecting and entertaining the English contingent for this spectacular event is staggering and the supply chain, often through the City of London Guilds, is equally fascinating.

    3,217 horses shipped across the ‘Narrow Sea’ to Calais; a vast quantity of wood sourced from Flanders and floated along the coast; a huge temporary palace is built on stone foundations with brick and timber-framed walls reaching to 40 feet. Royal palaces were virtually emptied of their silver, gold, tapestries and furniture to decorate the temporary palace, other principal tents and a chapel (with an organ); gold and silver cloth, velvet and sables, jewels and pearls were imported to ‘dress and impress’. How was it all achieved? 2020 is the 500th Anniversary of this extraordinary event.