William Gelling has just returned to the UK after four years as the UK’s High Commissioner to Rwanda and Burundi, representing the UK in a country scarred by the 1994 genocide which now has one of the world’s fastest economic growth rates, and a President with a controversial approach to managing politics and society. Before that William Gelling was William Hague’s Private Secretary and had postings in Iraq, Pakistan and India. He will discuss how Rwanda has pulled itself out of tragedy to economic success, in contrast with Burundi, the world’s poorest country, only 200 miles away, and tell us about what life is like flying the flag for the UK in Africa.
In the last few years the amount paid for the three most expensive artworks would be enough to buy 5,000 brand new Bentley Continentals, or to pay the annual salaries of more than 25,000 nurses. This lecture is about the top end of the art market and is an excuse to examine some beautiful and varied art. So, we’ll see some wonderful paintings including works by Picasso, Cezanne, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Modigliani, Klimt, Bacon and Pollock, all held together by the common thread of their extraordinary commercial value. We will also look at the buyers and sellers, the stories behind the works and the reasons why they have been changing hands recently. Finally, Ian Swankie will try to answer the question “Are they really worth all of these hundreds of millions of pounds?” Ian is a Londoner with a passion for art and architecture. He is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, and St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as being an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars.