Les Lumières talks

Celebrating Art, history & culture, our series of talks will stimulate your intellectual juices. 
  • From Fraternité to intercultural understanding 

In 1789, the revolutionaries in Paris stood up for fraternité, the brotherhood of man. All men were born equal, they claimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Today we would say all people are born equal and all have the right to participate fully in the community, living in harmony, unity and understanding.

In Victoria there are some 20,000 people of African descent who are either French-speaking or come from countries with strong cultural links to France. France also had and still has strong links in the Middle East. Our speakers reflect these different backgrounds.

This panel session will explore how people from bilingual and bi-cultural backgrounds can help build intercultural understanding and a more welcoming society.

Dr Mimmie Ngum Chi Watts, Commissioner at the Victorian Multicultural Commission will be the moderator for this special session and will be joined by 3 speakers: Gracieuse Amah, a young French woman with African (Beninese) parents, Oliver Middleton, a young Australian student who has lived and studied in France and Dr Fouad Abo, a Senior Technical Director who has lived in France for eight years.

      Saturday 13 July, 11am-12pm

      NGV Theatrette

$10 (+ Eventbrite's registration fee)

  • Mirka Mora

From Holocaust survivor to Melbourne cultural icon, Mirka Mora expressed the intensity of her personal life through artworks that embodied feminism, the craft movement as well as community art policies of the 1980s.

Sabine Cotte, a French-Australian conservator, will talk about Mirka at work, her creative processes and her complex and innovative techniques.
Discover her unique blend of traditional methods and modern creativity.

Mirka’s various modes of making art connected intimate emotions, stories of displacement and loss with major movements of the twentieth century.

With privileged access to the artist and her studio, Sabine Cotte offers a new perspective on this extraordinary woman, illuminating Mirka’s significance as one of Australia’s most compelling, creative and prolific artists.

      Saturday 13 July, 12:30pm-13:30pm

      NGV Theatrette 

$10 (+ Eventbrite's registration fee)

  • Women of the French Revolution

On 5 October 1789, some 7,000 women marched from Paris to Versailles to demand that the king and his family hand themselves over to the people of Paris. These women were from the poorest parts of Paris; they were marching to demand bread, but they were also marching to defend the political gains of the previous few months.

This was the first of a number of occasions when women took an active role in the political struggles of the Revolution.

This talk will provide fascinating insights into the role of women in the Revolution, and will reflect on what this means for women today.

Dr Marisa Linton has written widely on the French Revolution. Her most recent book is Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship and Authenticity in the French Revolution, published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

In collaboration with The University of Melbourne.

      Saturday 13 July, 1:45pm-2:45pm

      NGV Theatrette

$10 (+ Eventbrite's registration fee)

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral

After the devastating fire that shocked the world, destroying a significant part of the cathedral, this session will pay homage to this great building and its role as a religious and cultural icon in the centre of Paris for over 800 years.

Drawing on documentary film, and with insights from historians David Garrioch and Peter McPhee we will learn about the building of this great cathedral, its cultural significance and the role it has played in the history of Paris and France.

David Garrioch is Professor of History at Monash University. His research is on the social history of 18th century Paris and coincidentally he is currently working on the history of fire in European cities from the 16th to the 19th century.

Peter McPhee is Honorary Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. He is an expert on the history of the French Revolution and on the social history of modern France.

        Saturday 13 July, 3:00pm-4:00pm

      NGV Theatrette

$10 (+ Eventbrite's registration fee)