Did you know that I am a DJ as well as a bookseller and Kenilworth’s most famous art historian? (The latter title bestowed by Neil and Gayle, my great friends and fellow DJs, hosts of the wonderful Brunch with the Bradleys.) I do two shows on local internet station Radio Abbey, one about books and folk music, one a celebration of nostalgic tunes from my youth – meant to get everyone dancing! Here is this week’s episode of both. BookFolk is on a Monday from 1-2pm, Old School Disco! is on Tuesdays from 6-7pm. You can also Listen Again later.
We have had art lectures at the bookshop pretty much as long as the bookshop has been open (which, as an aside, is an amazing six and a half years!). Mostly these have been evening lectures, but we are often asked about the possibility of daytime talks. So this autumn there are art history talks on Monday mornings at 11.
The lecturer is me! I am an art historian as well as a bookseller, with a PhD from Bristol University and 20 years of lecturing experience. I still do a bit of professional teaching, but online (for Oxford University), which means I can do it from home in my pyjamas…perfect! But now that we have the new projection equipment, lectures are even easier at the bookshop. And even though it means I have to get dressed, it is all good fun.
Sometimes people say they feel daunted, and don’t come because they think it will be too highbrow or because they haven’t looked at paintings before. But my lectures are informal, friendly, inclusive – suitable for all levels of knowledge, which sounds a tall order, but it isn’t really.
My specialisation is in the art of Northern Europe in the Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries), but I do a few other things as well, including tracing what I call the Northern Tradition through the Dutch 17th century, German Romanticism in the early 19th century, and into the 20th century, and of course I look at Italian Renaissance and late medieval art too. This all sounds very grand, but the key is simply taking a painting and looking at it, and that’s what a lecture is for: you can read about art in books and on the internet, you can go to galleries, but a lecture gives you the opportunity to explore and discuss and ask questions and spend time looking closely with a guide and some fellow-explorers. Paintings – and the labels that go with them – become much less daunting when you do this.
I have mentioned paintings, but my PhD subject was sculpture, which in Germany is an incredible thing in the Renaissance, and prints, which grew out of the development of printed books in the 15th century. It’s all marvellous!
So if you’re free on a Monday morning, do come along at 11 o’clock – or if you prefer an evening talk, I still do those on Tuesday evenings once or twice a month. Lectures are £8 on the door, including coffee/tea, and last about an hour plus time for questions.
This coming Monday, 28 October, I’ll be talking about the greatest European painter of the 15th century: Rogier van der Weyden. A bold claim, but a genuine one! Why have you heard of Botticelli, who is not as good nor as important/influential, but not of Rogier van der Weyden? I can tell you that too if you come along.
Victoria (aka Dr Vic, or Doc Tors as some Bristol friends used to call me!)
There is a lot going on at the bookshop this autumn…to be kept up to date, it’s a good idea to join our mailing list! I am not the world’s most efficient promoter (ahem…) but the more avenues you follow to find out what’s going on, the less likely you are to miss something! So if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, do follow the Tree House Bookshop there too, and I will be working extra hard to keep all the different media up to date.
This Friday we are launching our new film club with a free screening of The Philadelphia Story. We’d love a few more to sign up to the club to pay for the licence! Our new equipment is working very well, it’s a joy to use – thank you to Mustard Presentations of Coventry for an excellent job! – and the films and lectures we have had so far have elicited very positive responses from the audiences. So do join us on Friday if you can! Film starts at 7.30pm.
More soon about other things that will be happening!
It’s 3 September, surely too early to mention Christmas…for me, Christmas is OK from 1 December, but decorations don’t go up until later, and the Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve. There is then that blissful time between Christmas Eve and 2 January when I hibernate and enjoy all the Christmassy stuff. The only thing I really like earlier than about a week before Christmas is the music – I love Christmas music.
However…when you’re in retail, you just have to think about Christmas much too early. For us, the only reason for that is our Advent calendars, which take the form of 24 books individually wrapped, one to open each day in December up to Christmas
Eve. They are always a huge hit, and we have to start early to make sure we can fill all the orders – last year we ran out of books and had other problems, but this year I feel we are better prepared!
So I am launching our Advent calendars of books now. If you would like to order one, get in touch. We can post, but this takes a bit of organisation and we have to add postage costs – enquire if you would like books posted and I can work out the extra cost, it probably won’t be as high as you think.
As ever, we divide them by price into age groups:
0-10: £13 (though books for small babies are harder – we don’t get many!)
Adult (17 and over): £27
We choose generally fiction; for adults they are fiction only, our non-fiction stock is too hit and miss to make these work. Sometimes we will put a fun non-fiction book into the children’s collections.
We can do shared ones too – divide 24 by the number of people and wrap each person’s books in different paper.
You can use the box below (give details of which ages you would like to order for), email us or call into the shop if you would like to order one.
We have shown films at different times in the past at the Tree House, but it’s not easy to do. The set-up is laborious, the speakers inadequate, the whole thing a bit too Heath Robinson, and more than I’ve felt able to commit to regularly.
All of that is about to change!
We are getting the projector and screen fixed to the ceiling, new speakers, and the whole thing wired in and connected to allow us simply to plug in a DVD player or laptop without all the palaver and back-breaking shifting of stuff. This will also mean more room for seats and no wires potentially tripping people up!
This will also make art lectures and any other talks and presentations much easier.
We need £1800 to make this happen, and I am raising that partly through a crowdfunder that basically asks people to buy film club membership or lecture attendance in advance. There are different levels of pledge, from £5 upwards. I am applying for a grant to cover the rest, but will also be doing some in-store fundraisers, and we have another possible sponsor looking at helping with some of the funding too. After just 5 days of the crowdfunder, we have raised £445 – amazing!
We will show films at least twice a month, and the plan is to focus on classic Hollywood and British films, world cinema, and things that are harder to see on television or at the cinema. However, as a club, members will be able to suggest films too – and the annual membership in our crowdfunder gives you the chance to choose a film in the first year. We can do mini-festivals, film days and all sorts. So cool.
The company are booked in to install the equipment on 10 September, and I hope to launch the Film Club in October; we will also be showing a couple of films during Kenilworth Arts Festival (19-28 September).
There is no cinema in Kenilworth, and with Warwick Arts Centre cinema closed for a couple of years, we’re missing our good films! The Talisman Theatre occasionally shows films, and Abbey Cinema shows films for children regularly on Saturday afternoons. But we need more!
There will be no popcorn – too crunchy – but we have ice cream and you can make hot drinks, or BYOB.
Exciting times! If you’d like to sign up, pledge via the crowdfunder, or come and see me at the bookshop. Or come to my art history marathon on Sunday 1 September, 2-5pm – more details on that very soon!
Support the crowdfunder here, or, as I say, come and see me at the bookshop.
This week I will be putting together some summer holiday boxes for children. A box containing a few things to keep children occupied during the school break – a child version, in a way, of our Tree House Box of Treasures. Boxes will contain two books and a mixture of other things: pen or pencil, notebook, a Lost Words trail sheet, bookmark, badges, puzzles, etc. Some may be marked as containing books that may appeal more to girls, or the type of books that are in the box, but I obviously avoid anything too prescriptive in the way of gender differences – it just gives some idea. Boxes are £7, and will be available from Saturday 20 July.
I can also do holiday reading boxes for adults, if you want to take a punt on some surprise books! 4 books for £6. I will make some by genre (crime and thrillers, chick lit, etc) and some that will just be a mixture of general fiction.
I will also make up some of our Boxes of Treasures to sell in the shop. These are £10, and contain two books and a number of little extras and treats.
So if you want some summer reading, or something for your children or grandchildren, come and see us from next Saturday! We will also be open on Sunday 21 July for Kenilworth Food Festival.
Our live music gigs have been fantastic this year – all of them sell-outs, and word seems to be getting around! We only book professional musicians, usually on national (or international!) tours, as well as a few local bands and performers who we think are good, and the quality of the acts we book seems to be paying off.
We have two coming up very soon, in quick succession, both major names on the folk scene, so I am very excited. Jack Rutter is coming on Sunday 12 May and Kim Lowings on Friday 17 May, as a duo with her father Andrew Lowings. Tickets are available from the bookshop or online, and advance booking is strongly recommended.
Have a look at our Live Music tab under Events at the top of the page to see what else is coming up; everyone on it is superb (otherwise we wouldn’t book them!).
Anyway – here are Jack and Kim to whet your appetites!