Day of Special Interest 2023

New York

In November, three talks over the course of the day created the sense of ‘being there’, capturing the vibrancy, energy and ever-changing nature of the city; whether today, or travelling in the Vanderbilts' horse drawn carriage up Fifth Avenue in the Gilded Age.

We considered the influence of ‘new money’ on art patronage and tracked the relentless move of fashionable society uptown using the 'voices' of Henry James in Washington Square, Edith Wharton in Gramercy Park, or F Scott Fitzgerald exclaiming that 'New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world'.  

We explored the people, ideas and fortunes that created the great art collections, buildings and visual environment of the city. Using a wide cross section of imagery, ranging from painting, design, architecture and interiors, fashion, photography and film, we will reflect on how the constantly changing city sees and re-imagines itself. 

'The fun of being a New York painter is that landmarks are torn down so rapidly that your canvases become historical records almost before the paint on them is dry'  (John Sloan 1909) 

The day started at 10.00am and finished at approximately 3.30pm and included:

Our speaker, Mary Alexander, trained as an art historian and graduated with a BA Hons in History and History of Art and MA in History of Art.  Her background combines an unusual blend of academic, communciations skills and experiences, including lecturing to various arts organisations, working with design professionals on special events and publications and writing on various aspects of the history of art and design. Mary Alexander is an approved Arts Society lecturer.  She is a popular and enthusiastic speaker with 30 years experience. 

Images Credit: Wikimedia Commons: View from Empire State Building by  Dietmar Rabich, Central Park view of Bow Bridge by Jet Lowe (Public Domain), High Line by Mike Peel ( and Mary Alexander