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DateLecture
12 February 2020Cosmonauts and Cotton-Pickers – Soviet Central Asia and the Use of Public Art as Propaganda
08 January 2020Tantrums and Tiaras – Backstage at The Royal Opera House, London
04 December 2019Jane Austen’s Christmas: The Festive Season in the Georgian era
13 November 2019Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite Legacy
09 October 2019From Downton to Gatsby – Jewellery and Fashion 1890-1929
11 September 2019The Fruits of Sin – The Art and Times of Hieronymus Bosch
12 June 2019WONDERS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE: OFF Limits in Syria and Neighbouring Countries
08 May 2019WHEN BRITAIN CLICKED: Photography of the Swinging Sixties
10 April 2019DAME ZAHA HADID: The story of this pre-eminent architect
13 March 2019FRIEDO KAHLO AND DIEGO RIVERA: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting
13 February 2019THE NATION’S PRIZE: The gripping story of how Velazque’s “Rokeby Venus” was saved for the nation
09 January 2019POTS OF ART FROM GRAYSON PERRY
05 December 2018A CORNUCOPIA OF CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS. Where do all the traditions that we follow during the festive season originate?
15 November 2018FOOD AND ART THROUGH THE AGES: From Renaissance sugar sculpture to 3D printing.
10 October 2018HIDDEN CANVASES – STREET ART AND THE CITY
12 September 2018FOREIGNERS IN LONDON 1520-1677: The Artists who changed the course of British Art.

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Cosmonauts and Cotton-Pickers – Soviet Central Asia and the Use of Public Art as Propaganda Chris Alexander Wednesday 12 February 2020

This lecture explores the birth of the Soviet mosaic from its roots in Islamic mosaics and Communist propagandist posters through to the question of preservation in post-Soviet Central Asia. We explore why Soviet thinking was so keen to bring art out of galleries and into public spaces, and how, in an era when Socialist Realism was the only permitted artistic expression, every public artwork came with a message, a value and an agenda. How did Soviet artists deal with the uncomfortable reality that Muslim Central Asia was a Russian colonial conquest? In what ways were gender, race, work, leisure and achievement important when it came to shaping Central Asians’ ideas of their own identity within the wider Soviet family?

Chris Alexander was born in Turkey (hence his middle name) and spent his childhood there and in war-torn Beirut. After school, Chris spent two years at sea before studying Media and journalism at Leicester University. He then moved to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, establishing a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries, creating income for women. After a year in the UK writing A Carpet Ride to Khiva, he moved to the Pamirs in Tajikistan, training yak herders to comb their yaks for their cashmere-like down, spending three years there. Next came two years in Kyrgyzstan living in the world’s largest natural walnut forest and establishing a wood-carving workshop. Chris has recently finished rowing and studying at Oxford and is now a curate at St. Barnabas, North Finchley, and author of Alabaster and Manacle. He returns to Central Asia whenever he can and conducts tours there.