Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting a talk about Chinese wallpaper to the Society of Antiquaries of London at their splendid premises in Burlington House. The Society was founded in 1707 and its aims are to support research into the material past, to foster public understanding of our heritage and to engage in the formulation of public policy on the care of our cultural property.
Above is an impression of one of the Society’s meetings in Regency times, but fortunately the Fellows who came to my talk yesterday were not quite so rowdy.
Apart from being wonderfully rude, the Cruikshank cartoon also hints at the very real creative and intellectual ferment that can arise when like-minded people get together and start exchanging and debating ideas – I have mentioned this ‘coffee house’ or ‘liquid network’ effect in a previous post.
Indeed I think there was some of that going on at the Society yesterday, facilitated, as in the coffee houses of old, by the availability of refreshments. I was certainly stimulated and challenged by the questions asked by the Fellows following my talk and by the further discussions afterwards.
And the Antiquaries have taken the coffee house into the twenty-first century, by making these talks available online complete with audio, video and synchronised slides. So for those who are interested, my talk is available here.