Chairman’s Report – 2010 to 2011

Since the last Conference in Durham the Association has lost several eminent and key members who had been involved since the beginning.

Our President Harry James, one-time Keeper of the Department Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, died in December 2009, aged 86. Harry had been involved with ASTENE from the very beginning and was a constant supporter of its activities. His humour and wise advice will be greatly missed.Norman Lewis, who died aged 92, had also been involved with ASTENE since its formation. Norman devoted a lot of time to transcribing the journals of William Bankes in the Dorchester Record Office, and also wrote extensively on the Lebanon, and on Petra and its earliest European visitors.

This year we were shocked by the sudden death of Alix Wilkinson. Alix’s work was always impeccably researched. Her book on Egyptian jewellery written whilst she was working at the British Museum remains a valuable contribution to the field, More recently she had worked on the gardens of ancient Egypt and the gardens and public spaces of Cairo in the 19th century. Again her research was meticulous and her lectures delivered with aplomb. Alix also served as ASTENE as Secretary to the Committee for some years. Her humour and anecdotes will be greatly missed on ASTENE tours.

Brenda Moon was a very distinguished scholar and librarian. Brenda’s contribution to ASTENE is well-known and her biography of Amelia Edwards demonstrates her skill as a writer and researcher. She was a delightful and gentle person, and another member who will be missed from ASTENE tours.

The last AGM followed the Study Day on Monasteries at Rewley House on 3 July 2010. Dr Patricia Usick organised a very successful evening in February to see drawings of sites and monuments held in the archive of the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum. Further events are being planned, including a visit with small conference based in Dublin. The next Biennial Conference is scheduled for July 2013 at the University of Aston, Birmingham.

The meetings of the Executive Committee have discussed a range of issues. We were pleased to give a grant to the Griffith Institute for the digital copying of the volumes of drawings by George Hoskins and his artist Bandoni. These will be published on the Griffith Institute website.

The ASTENE Bulletin remains the key means of communication for members. Four issues have appeared in the year (nos 45-48); one was edited by Robert Morkot and the other three by Russell and Sheila McGuirk. Our thanks also go to Diane Fortenberry who has formatted and prepared some editions of the Bulletin for the printer. Myra Green has gained some excellent reviews, one of the most important elements of the Bulletin. Many members submit information, queries and responses.

The new website has not yet been put in place. Janet Rady, Hana Navratilova and – particularly – Sheila McGuirk have ensured that the old website has been kept up to date. My thanks to them.

The Committee also discussed the Constitution. We feel that some significant changes need to be made to make the Constitution clearer on some issues and to reflect the changes in the Association since its foundation. At the same time, we wish to retain the fundamental nature of the Association. A new draft Constitution will be discussed, circulated to members, sent to the Charity Commission for approval, and then voted on at an EGM.

The AGM at Rewley House in July 2010 saw the election and re-election of members of the Committee. We are delighted that Dr Jaromir Malek agreed to become our new President and Dr Elizabeth French Vice-President.

Robert Morkot