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Guests begin to assemble for the lecture
Dr. Cotton explains the origins of the Drecki Lecture series
Catherine Anholt, Alan Cotton, Laurence Anholt, Tricia Cotton
Laurence Anholt:True Art Stories

The award winning artist and author Laurence Anholt MA (Royal Academy), was the guest speaker at this year's Drecki lecture of the South West Academy, held on Saturday 19th October at the premises of Exeter auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood.

Guests were greeted in the foyer with a drink and canapés before being seated and officially welcomed by Academician and Trustee Ann Jones (Ann.L.Roe). Ann pointed out that this was the third time that the Exeter auction house had so generously hosted our lectures, and expressed our sincere thanks to all concerned and particularly the ever supportive and delightful Diana Wilkinson.

She then introduced Dr Alan Cotton, President Emeritus and founder of SWAC, who spoke briefly and sincerely about our debt of gratitude to the painter and philanthropist Zbigniew Drecki and his wife Jo, whose generous financial bequest did so much to establish the South West Academy in its early years.

It was then time for the main event of the evening.

Laurence is a highly entertaining and talented speaker. An hour seemed to fly by as his illustrated talk, peppered with humorous anecdotes, revealed fascinating insights into the lives of many of the famous artists who over the years have become household names for us all.

We were to learn that Laurence's early years were spent in Holland and where his lasting passion for art began, but it was in England that his adult studies in Fine Arts was to ultimately lead to a Masters Degree from the Royal Academy London.

Then married, he and his artist wife Catherine, began writing and illustrating books, mainly in response to the arrival of their young family. 'The books simply grew with the children' said Laurence. Their daughter Claire now works for the United Nations in New York. Tom is a highly successful painter living in Berlin (www.tomanholt.com) and Maddy is an actor based in London receiving rave reviews for her one woman show at the Edinburgh Festival this summer.

So from these small beginnings Laurence and Catherine have now published the unbelievable figure of over 200 books, distributed worldwide and in over 30 languages.

The best selling 'Anholts Artists Series' - an introduction to great artists for young children - include 'Camille and the Sunflowers'; Picasso and the Girl with the Pony Tail'; 'The Magical Garden of Claude Monet' etc.

We learned that each book had been meticulously researched and was based on actual encounters between a real child and a great artist. These had taken Laurence on many fascinating journeys often meeting the family relatives and friends of these icons of the art world.

A particularly fascinating moment was witnessing a full scale musical production of one of their books in Korea.

Their work has gained them many coveted awards internationally including invitations to Buckingham Palace and Downing Street on a number of occasions.

Laurence and Catherine now live and work in a house and studios on top of a hill above the sea in Colyton, Devon where they continue to produce paintings, sculptures and prints and to deliver illustrated talks on art, literacy and child development.

By the end of the hour Laurence had delivered a witty and thoroughly entertaining lecture and sat down to warm and thoroughly deserved applause from all those in attendance. Those not there had missed a real treat.

A vote of thanks was given by Ann's husband Alan, who mentioned how the Anholt 'team' through their unique and distinctive writings, had helped the young to better understand and empathise with these giants of our art world and for those audience members slightly longer in the tooth, to discover some previously unknown and fascinating facts.

Alan concluded with a particular vote of thanks to his wife Ann for her hard work in masterminding this lecture. Grateful thanks too, to Phil Creek (projection); Penny Keen (Admin); Sonia Fynn and Charlie O'Sullivan for their delicious canapés and general help on the night and daughter Lolo Lilley for brilliant help with the design of the publicity flyer.

The evening ended with some brisk sales of signed books and prints at the Anholt table.

Visit www.anholt.co.uk.

ARJ. 25/10/13
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