Helen Rufus-Ward is an Art Historian with a BA, MA and a doctorate (DPhil) from the University of Sussex. She has lectured and taught at the University of Sussex since 2007 on all aspects of art history, but her specialism is early Christian and Byzantine art. Helen has published on Late Antique and Byzantine ivory carvings and 19th century plaster cast collecting. An experienced speaker who has delivered lectures at many universities and art institutions, including the Wallace Collection and the Society of Antiquaries of London, Helen has also led special interest tours in the UK and Europe.
Sarah Cove is a practicing Paintings Conservator, Accredited by the UK Institute of Conservation. Alongside running her busy conservation business in London and Cornwall, she is one of Britain’s foremost Technical Art Historians and an internationally recognised speaker and lecturer. Her areas of expertise are 16-20c. British portraiture and 19-20c. British landscape painting. Sarah’s research on John Constable’s painting technique, the ‘Constable Research Project’, celebrated its 30th year in 2016 with lectures in London, Copenhagen and a highly successful ADFAS tour. Publications include essays in the Tate Gallery’s exhibition catalogues for ‘Constable’ (1991) and ‘Constable: The Great Landscapes’ (2006) and a ground-breaking study of the materials and techniques of Jacobean portrait painter William Larkin, published in 2012 by English Heritage. In 2006 Sarah co-led the Constable ‘Six-footers’ symposium at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and in 2014 and 2017 she appeared in the Constable episodes of the BBC’s ‘Fake or Fortune?’. Sarah is a Fellow of the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers and of the International Institute for the Conservation and Preservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
Simon Rees studied at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, receiving a BA and an MA in English Literature. He has taught in Italy and Japan, exploring the art and architecture of both countries. From 1989 to 2012 Simon was Dramaturg at Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, working with set, costume and props designers and giving lectures on their work in opera production. He is now a freelance writer and lecturer and travels extensively presenting lectures on opera, art history and literature. Simon has published several novels (including the award-winning The Devil’s Looking-Glass), poems and opera librettos.
Jacqueline Cockburn is a linguist and art historian with first degrees in French and Spanish and Art History, and a Masters in Applied Linguistics. Her B.A and PhD in Art History were taken at Birkbeck College, University of London where she also lectured on Western European Art for 20 years. Her doctoral thesis was on ‘The Drawings of Garcia Lorca as Gifts’. She has published The Spanish Song Companion and contributed to various academic publications on art historical subjects. Jacqueline was also Head of Department of Art History at Westminster School for 16 years before launching her new career as a freelance lecturer and establishing her own art tour company.
Julian Richards studied archaeology at Reading University and has since worked as a professional archaeologist for English Heritage, the BBC and as an independent. Julian was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1992 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in July 2016. He has been involved in teaching and outreach projects, lecturing widely in continuing education, to groups and societies and to special interest tour companies. Julian’s career in broadcasting has included researching and presenting ‘Meet the Ancestors’ and ‘Blood of the Vikings’ for BBC2, and ‘Mapping the Town’ for Radio 4. He is the author of a number of English Heritage publications on Stonehenge and is the guest curator of ‘Wish you were here’, an exhibition of his own extensive collection of ‘Stonehengiana’ which is currently on display at the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
Gavin Plumley is a writer and broadcaster, appearing on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and contributing to The Independent on Sunday, The Guardian and The Times, as well as in opera and concert programmes around the world. A well known expert on Central European culture and classical music during the 19th and 20th centuries, Gavin lectures widely and has given talks at the National Gallery, British Museum, Royal Opera House, V&A, BBC Proms, Southbank Centre, Tate and Neue Galerie, New York, as well as for history of art societies and The Art Fund.
John Benjamin F.G.A., D.G.A. began his career in 1972 at Cameo Corner, the celebrated Bloomsbury jewellers, well-known for its unrivalled stock of ancient, Renaissance, 18th and 19th century jewellery. After qualifying as a Fellow of the Gemmological Association, he gained the Association’s diamond diploma with distinction and joined Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers as a cataloguer and valuer. He remained at Phillips for 23 years ultimately becoming International Director of Jewellery with responsibility for the sale programme in London and Geneva. In 1999 he established his own independent jewellery consultancy, John C Benjamin Limited. John is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company and Freeman of the City of London. He is a Fellow of the National Association of Goldsmiths’ Institute of Registered Valuers and lectures on a wide range of jewellery related topics in the UK and overseas. John is also a long-standing contributor to BBC Television’s ever-popular Antiques Roadshow.
Chloë Sayer is an independent scholar, author and curator, specialising in the art and culture of Latin America. A fluent Spanish-speaker, she has spent many years researching craft and textile skills. She has made ethnographic collections and carried out fieldwork in Mexico and Belize for the British Museum. In 1991 she co-curated the exhibition The Skeleton at the Feast: The Mexican Day of the Dead at the Museum of Mankind in London (October 1991 – November 1993). She has also worked extensively in Canada with Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), where she is a Research Associate in the Department of World Cultures. She recently co-curated an exhibition for the ROM: ¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture (May 2015 – May 2016) and wrote the accompanying book. Her other books include Mexican Textiles (British Museum Press, 1990), The Arts and Crafts of Mexico (Thames & Hudson, 1990), Focus on Aztecs and Incas (Watts Books, 1995), The Incas (Wayland, 1998), and Fiesta: Days of the Dead and Other Mexican Festivals (British Museum Press, 2009). She has worked on a number of television documentaries about Mexico and Peru for the BBC and Channel 4, and regularly leads cultural tours to Mexico.