Magic Lanterns to MGM

Our U3A were very fortunate this month to host an exciting and original talk led by Dr Geri Parlby. Dr Parlby is expert in her field of art history, gaining a Masters in History of Art, and a theology doctorate. She is also the principal lecturer on the Arts Society South West Area’s History of Art course and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Roehampton University. Dr Parlby took us on an animated and extremely captivating whistle stop historical tour of the motion picture industry.

Dr Parlby talks to group

Speaking to a full hall of members, she explained that magic lantern slides brought the world to life in pictures. The first lantern slides were created in the 1600s, 200 years before photography was invented. This provided entertainment and education in the way that cinema does today. The original slides were made by painting images onto small pieces of glass; and people viewed the slides by shining candlelight or gaslight through them. Moving images had been a powerful source for imagination from the first moment a magic lantern flickered into life in the 17th century. In her lecture, Dr Parlby demonstrated through magnificent slides how the motion picture industry first developed throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. How it then went on to change the face of entertainment and inspire some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century.

After the talk we asked our members if they would like Dr Parlby to return next year for another talk, which was met with a resounding applause and a definite “Yes”.

Report by Daphne Berkovi; photo by Malcolm Brahams