Lecture series lights up the Surrey Museum this fall

From Vimy Ridge, forbidden embroidery and Stalin's Gulag, lecture topics offer something for the history buff in everyone.

From community gardening, activist art and First World War battle Vimy Ridge, the Surrey Museum is setting an inspirational tone this fall with its heritage lecture sessions.

The range of guest speakers includes an Iranian artist and activist, a fashion historian, an organic farmer, and even an account of Stalin’s Gulag.

I Can’t Believe She Wore that Dress is the cheekily-titled Oct. 4 lecture by fashion historian Ivan Sayers, who will lead a guided tour through the fashion faux pas of the past 100 years.

This fun presentation includes dressed mannequins, for easy snarking. It’s tonight Oct. 4 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $10, for ages 16 years and up. Pre-registration required.

At Home Grown Surrey, organic farmer Adam Bongarzone, owner of Sundog Vegetables, will share how consumers can stay fresh and local by eating with the seasons, and preserving food. He’ll also share the basics of growing your own produce. This lecture is Saturday, Oct. 6 (World Food Day), from 11 a.m. to noon. The cost is $5, for ages 16 and up, and pre-registration required.

Also in October, join artist and activist Shohreh Ghanbary for Beyond the Wall: The Memories, the Art, an account of her life in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.

Ghanbary was imprisoned in the 1980s after taking to the streets to protest the Islamic Revolution. She endured horrendous conditions, and lived under the constant threat of execution – even as her fellow prisoners steadily disappeared.

In her cell at night she would embroider images of home inside the pockets of her chador. Each year her parents were permitted to bring her a change of clothes, and her messages were smuggled out of the prison walls.

Ghanbary now lives on the North Shore, where she continues her artwork in a variety of mediums, from painting to drawing and video and remains just as passionately dedicated to human rights, working as an activist who uses her artwork to express beauty and political commentary.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., she’ll share how her forbidden embroidery work kept her from lapsing into despair. The cost is $10 for ages 16 years and up. Pre-registration required.

Later on in the month, learn how to take part in one of Surrey’s diverse community gardens.

Community Gardening, presented Saturday, Oct. 27 from 3 to 4 p.m., will feature members of Surrey’s Hazelnut Meadows Community Gardens.

The cost is $5, for ages 16 years and up; pre-registration required.

Closer to Remembrance Day, the Surrey Museum presents Vimy Ridge. First World War re-enactor and Western Front Association member Tim Heller brings his artifacts to the museum for a presentation featuring his work on the sets of war documentaries and projects, commemorating the 90th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. Heller’s lecture runs from 1 to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3. The cost is $5, for ages 16 and up; pre-registration required.

Also on Nov. 3 is Letters from Russia, a lecture on life within the walls of Stalin’s terrifying Gulag prison system.

Dr. Ruth Derksen Siemens, a local author and historian, shares stories of hope amidst despair through prisoners’ letters written between 1930 and 1937.

Letters from Russia runs from 3 to 4 p.m. The cost is $5. It’s for ages 16 and up; pre-registration required.

After the Remembrance Day ceremony at Surrey Museum Plaza, join local author Robert Mackay for Soldier of the Horse to learn about Surrey’s connections to the Canadian World War I Cavalry, and the important role of horses during the war. It’s on Nov. 11 from noon to 1 p.m. This drop in lecture is by donation, and suitable for all ages.

The Surrey Museum is located at 17710 56A Avenue. Visit surrey.ca/heritage for more.

Hours of operation are Tuesdays-Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Statutory Holidays. 2012 admission is sponsored by the Friends of the Surrey Museum Society. Info: 604-592-6956.