Shell House Talks
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Shell House Talks    
Illustrated Talks
1. The Shell –
ancient symbol and decorative feature within the British house and garden.
  • Shell symbolism in mythology.
  • The shell form as a decorative feature in British C18th interior design.
  • The shell form in contemporary design.
  • British and Irish shell house and grotto decoration / restoration in landscape gardens.
2. Eighteenth century British and Irish shell house and grotto decoration –
a survey featuring Mary Delany and other shell artists.
  • Changes in C18th landscape design in Britain and Ireland.
  • The Grand European Tour.
  • The importance of woman in developing the changing function and decoration of shell houses/grottoes.
  • Rococo.
  • Shell artists featured: Lady Hertford, Mary Delany, Alexander Pope, Duchess of Portland, the Parminter sisters, the Goldney sisters, the Lennox sisters, the Dalrymple sisters.
  • The Cabinet of Curiosities and female collectors in the Enlightenment.
3. Nineteenth century British and Irish shell house and grotto decoration and its contemporary re-invention.
  • The ‘picturesque’ garden in the early C19th in relation to the grotto/shell house.
  • Victorian landscape gardens and the fate of the shell house and grotto.
  • The disappearance of the shell motif in interior design.
  • Shell seaside art.
  • Contemporary revival – Quinlan Terry , Simon Verity, Neil Armstrong, Katie Paterson, Malcolm Tempest and others.
4. “A sublime shell house arcadianza!” Female creativity in the changing design, decoration and restoration of British shell houses and grottoes.

Celebrating the lives and influences on female shell artists:

  • Mary Delany’s seventy years’ interest- her seven garden features in Ireland and the south of England from 1720s onwards.
  • Caroline and Emily Lennox of Goodwood and Carton House, Kildare.
  • Diana Reynell: modern restorer: Wimborne St Giles, Walton Bath House, Goldney, Goodwood, Painshill, Marlborough Mound, Mount Edgecumbe, Leeds Castle.
  • Blott Kerr-Wilson: modern restorer: Belcombe Court, Eaton Hall, Cilwendeg (Wales) Ballymaloe (Ireland).
  • Belinda Eade, Linda Fenwick, Fiona Jackson, Sarah Greenall, Tess Morley.
  • In preparation / currently under research. Illustrated talk available from October 2017.
5. A historical survey of the British grotto in landscape gardens and estates with special reference to the craftsmanship of Joseph and Josiah Lane of Tisbury, Wiltshire.
  • The Grand Tour and the role of aristocracy and landowner.
  • Fashion: the classical and the sublime;’ picturesque’, natural and ‘Gothick’.
  • Bath, Wiltshire, Dorset and Surrey.
  • Influential figures: Allen, Kent, Pope, Chambers, Delany ,Hamilton, Beckford, Hoare, Capability Brown.
  • Stourhead, Painshill, Oaklands, the four Fonthill grottoes, Belcombe, Bowood and Bowden. Charlemont and Old Wardour.
  • Some surprises and conundrums.
  • Shifts in design, decoration and use.
6. ‘A sense of the smaller landscape’. A contemplative journey into the home and garden retreats of twenty writers in the British Isles from the 1720s to the present day.
  • Time and place, retreat and control. The nature of writing.
  • Home and office. Town and country.
  • Pope, Walpole, Carlyle, Wordsworth, the Brontes, Shaw, Yeats, Kipling, Henry James, Lawrence, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier, Dylan Thomas, Amis, Self and others.
  • A darker note on Chatterton, Gissing, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath.
Future Publications
  • The Grotto Work of Joseph & Josiah Lane of Tisbury Wiltshire.
  • ‘A Sublime Shell House Arcadianza!’ Female Creativity in the Changing Design, Decoration and Restoration of British Shell Houses 1800-2000.
Past Publications
  • Conchinilia Journey (2015).


Shell House Talks - A Series Of Lectures - 2017 - 2018
Lectures - 2017 - 2018 - click here for more ....
Lecture - BRLSI - 13 Nov 2017 - click here for more ....
Book - Half-Forgotten - the grotto work of Joseph Lane and his son Josiah.
Book - Half-Forgotten.
The grotto work of Joseph Lane and his son Josiah.
Shell House Talks
Shell House Talks
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