The Arts Society Auckland

Founded in 2004 as The Auckland Decorative & Fine Arts Society Incorporated, our society has a new life now as The Arts Society Auckland in line with our parent body in UK.

We meet on 8 Wednesday evenings during the year at 7.30 to enjoy diverse and stimulating lectures on arts-related topics, delivered by lecturers primarily from the UK. We also help contribute to the preservation of our NZ artistic heritage and promotion of art education.  TASA has donated over $80,000 to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki since our inception and continues to assist its programmes of conservation and education.

our 2024 programme

The success of our Societies is built on the high quality of presentations delivered by experts in their field. Many of these are accredited in the UK for their subject matter and presentation skills.

Our venue is the Rialto in Newmarket with its luxuriously comfortable seats.  In 2024 we offer a mix of The Arts Society speakers from the UK, two from New Zealand and one Australian-based. Six of these will be with us in person and two will come via live broadcast from the UK. With the online talks, there are opportunities to view additional online topics from home, tuning in to the gatherings hosted by the other Societies around the country.  Most members will therefore have the opportunity of enjoying up to 12 top calibre lectures.

Guests are welcome for $35, paid online prior, or in cash on the evening.  We ask that members let us know the name/s of their guests so that we can prepare name tags.


Full year subscription is $270.00; Half year $135.00 (lectures 1-4) with the option of renewing for the second half of the year.

To join as a new member or rejoin please download the TASA 2024 Membership Form

For membership enquiries email  Membership pays for our venue and for refreshments after the lecture.  These two are our major expenses along with lecturers’ fees.

We are hoping to launch a Day Group in 2024, provided we get enough interest. Subscription will be $50.00.

It is possible if you join the Day Group to come to your own choice of evening lectures for $35, as do guests.  In return we ask that you, one, let us know in advance so that a name tag can be prepared, and two, that you pay before the night online, or if that is not possible, to bring cash on the evening.

Our account details are AkDFAS 12-3042-0379470-00.

With sufficient people, the Day Group will be able to participate in such outings as tours of galleries apart from the Auckland Art Gallery, excursions to sculpture parks, visits to studios, walks in the CBD related to the arts and other events depending on what is on.

For general enquiries email

Auckland – 2024 Lecturer Biographies and Topics


John Walsh

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 6 March 2024 – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

John Walsh is a writer specialising in architecture. He edited Architecture New Zealand magazine from 2002 to 2011 and was managing editor of several leading design magazines before working as communications manager for Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects. He is the author of a dozen books on New Zealand architects and architecture, including City House, Country House: Contemporary New Zealand Homes (2016), Big House, Small House: New Homes by New Zealand Architects (2012) and Home Work: Leading New Zealand Architects’ Own Houses (2010). He edited the publications accompanying the New Zealand exhibition at the 2014 and 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Latterly, he has written guides to the architecture of Auckland (2021), Wellington (2022) and Christchurch (2023), published by Massey University Press, and with photographer Jane Ussher published Rooms: Portraits of Remarkable New Zealand Interiors.


In each of New Zealand’s four main cities you can still see 150 years of architectural history – despite urban growth and changes in economic fortune, seismic events, and civic carelessness. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin all retain buildings representative of the international architectural styles and movements that over the past century and a half have enjoyed their moment, from the Gothic Revival through Modernism to contemporary computer-aided shape-making. But although they shared architectural styles, the cities had their own particular histories and characters, and these too can still be read through their buildings. Drawing on his recent series of architectural guides to New Zealand’s four major cities, John Walsh traces the stories of the country’s most significant buildings, and of the architects who designed them.

Dr. Natalia Murray

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 10 April 2024 – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

Dr. Natalia Murray was born in St Petersburg where she gained BA and MA in the History of Art at the Academy of Fine Arts before taking the PhD course at the Hermitage Museum. In 2015 she has been awarded PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art. At present she works as an independent curator and an associate lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art where she teaches her MA course on the role of the exhibitions and private collections in Europe in 1863-1930. In 2017 she curated a major exhibition Revolution. Russian Art. 1917-1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She is currently working on several exhibition projects in London, Paris and US. Her latest exhibition The World as Non-Objective. The Birth of a New Art which traced the development of the new abstract art from Chagall to Malevich, was opened with high acclaim at the Jewish museum in Moscow in November 2022. Her books and articles extend across the wide field of 19-20 century European art, and she has featured in films and art programmes on BBC 4, BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. Natalia is also trustee of the Avant-Garde Art Research Project – a UK-based charity which shares one of her aspirations to reduce the number of fakes on the art market.


In this lecture we will discuss the impact of art dealers, collectors and exhibitions on the establishment of Picasso as one of the most important modern artists and the influence of Shchukin’s and Morozov’s collections of French impressionists and post- impressionists and exhibitions of French art on avant-garde artists in Russia. We will discuss the following questions: How private collections and exhibitions transformed the reception of Picasso? How far Picasso’s art dealers influenced the works that collectors bought, and therefore contemporary taste? And ultimately – how far has the history of art been determined by art dealers?

Peter Medhurst

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 15 May 2024 – BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE UK – 7.30PM

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music in London and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He has presented events at all of the major concert venues in London – the King’s Place, the Barbican, St John’s Smith Square, and the Royal Festival Hall – on subjects that range from Beethoven String Quartets to 18th Century Venetian culture.  Radio work has included Classic FM, Radio 3, and Radio 4.  His recordings number For Two to Play, Schubert Songs, Handel and His Satellites, Tyme at the Virginalls, and On Christmas Night – a programme of Christmas carols and seasonal songs.


Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is the one Baroque composer whose music is a direct reflection of the city in which it was composed.  Listen to a Vivaldi concerto and hey presto one is transported directly to the heart of 18th century Venice.  The reasons for this are many – Vivaldi’s passion for colour, boldness and spectacle in his music; the unusual way in which Venice solved its problems with the poor and the homeless; Vivaldi’s health problems and his eccentricities as a man and a priest.  Against the backdrop of 18th century Venice, and with musical examples, this lecture explores the amazing world of Vivaldi’s music – music that is as intrinsically Venetian as the canvasses of Canaletto.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Peter will be delivering six unique lectures to all the NZ Societies so there is an opportunity to view additional topics from home. Details and links will be sent in advance.

Sarah Burles

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 19 June 2024 – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

Sarah Burles studied History of Art at Cambridge University before doing a master’s degree at University College London. She went on to have a career in museum and gallery education, establishing new services in three different museums before working at the Fitzwilliam Museum for many years.  Sarah is the founder of Cambridge Art Tours, which runs tours and courses in and around East Anglia. She is also a Tour Director for a travel company and has led tours to Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and America. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Sarah moved her work online, offering art history courses to audiences all over the world.


How does a mere mortal go about creating an image of a heavenly being? Across religions and centuries artists have sought to make spiritual messengers, protectors and protagonists visible through their skill and imagination. In Christian iconography, angels have been visualised in a myriad of different ways – Leonardo da Vinci depicts the Angel Gabriel with the realistic wings of a bird while, in contrast, a few years later, Raphael paints a pair of pensive toddlers. Van Eyck’s angels sing and play musical instruments while in the work of William Blake, they appear like phantoms in both poems and pictures. From Byzantine mosaics to contemporary sculpture and much in between, this lecture will explore the depiction of angels in art, intertwining well known images with some of the more unusual and surprising visualisations.

Charlie Waite

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 24 July 2024 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

One of the world’s leading landscape photographers, he has lectured for 25 years throughout the UK, Europe and the US. Has held numerous one-man exhibitions in London, exhibited twice in Tokyo, and was awarded the prestigious honorary Fellowship of the British Institute of Professional Photographers, as well as a Direct Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society. In 2007, he launched LPOTY – UK Landscape Photographer of the Year. Amongst many publications, the most recent includes Landscape; the Story of 50 Photographs (2005), and Arc & Line (2011). He was invited by the Royal Academy to exhibit in 2015’s summer exhibition.


Landscape photography is a way of life and is an essential method of expression for Waite. In discussing his work, Charlie refers to ‘pre-visualisation’ first used by the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams from which he draws much inspiration amongst others. “It is the creative act of the artist-photographer who, in visualising a poetic or revealing image within the scene in front of him, anticipates what the final print must convey to express what he sees and feels”. Charlie refers to Ansel Adams and other artists and photographers who have inspired him and shaped his work.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Charlie will be delivering an additional topic to view from home. Details and links will be sent in advance.

Kathleen Olive

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 28 August 2024 – 7.30pm

Kathleen’s PhD was a study of artisanal culture in Renaissance Florence, through the lens of a goldsmith’s commonplace book known as the Codex Rustici. She lived and studied in Italy for a number of years, and then taught Italian language, literature and history at the University of Sydney. Kathleen now works with Academy Travel, leading tours to Europe and, particularly, Italy.


Expanses of raked white gravel. Iconic trees – pines, maples, gingko – carefully twisted and pruned into dynamic and sometimes torturous shapes. The soothing drip of water onto stone. The autumn light shining through richly coloured leaves. When you deconstruct them, the elements of a Japanese garden seem so simple that they’re almost banal, yet their combined effect is undeniably engaging and soothing. In this talk, I investigate the historic roots of Japanese garden design that, like much of the country’s art tradition, developed in isolation from European influence and thus preserves something quintessentially “Japanese”.

John Francis

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 2 October 2024 – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

John Francis is an experienced University Lecturer, consultant, researcher and visual artist. He grew up on Merseyside and was educated in Fine Arts and pedagogy in the UK and New York. An inspirational speaker who has delivered lecturers and workshops in the US (Texas, California, Massachusetts), Beijing, Malaysia and the UK, John initially trained as a painter and was awarded the Max Beckmann Memorial Scholarship in painting in Brooklyn, New York and went on to be artist in resident for the state of Texas. Later in his career John produced and directed several short films and animations. He has taught film, art and pedagogy at the University of Exeter, Arts University Bournemouth, University Sains Malaysia, Southwestern College, California, Brunel University, London and Kingston University. Lectures and workshops.


God’s eye camera, scantily dressed women and kaleidoscopic patterns are the trademark visual devices of Hollywood’s legendary musical director. Apart from the glamour, surrealist setups and excess of the ground breaking musicals of the 1930’s, Berkeley’s films also explored romantic love, gender roles, social issues and the impact of the Great Depression. In this lecture we will examine key musicals such as Gold Diggers, 42nd Street, Roman Scandals and the later, The Gang’s All Here. Be prepared for an unalloyed musical visual extravaganza!

Jill Trevelyan

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 6 November 2024 – 7.30pm

Venue: Rialto Theatre, 169 Broadway, Newmarket

Jill Trevelyan is a writer and curator based at Pukerua Bay near Wellington. Her books, published by Te Papa Press, include Toss Woollaston: A Life in Letters (2004), Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life (2008), Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer (2013) and Robin White: Something is Happening Here (with Sarah Farrar and Nina Tonga, 2022). Jill works part-time as Art Manager at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Te Manatū Aorere.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a collection of some 2800 taonga, displayed in New Zealand’s embassies around the world. Jill, who is kaitiaki for the collection, will discuss the role of art at the Ministry, and show images of recent building and refurbishment projects.

TASA Supporting the Arts

TASA enjoys a close relationship with the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki. 2020 saw us complete our three year pledge to the conservation of John Sparrowe Esq – a Gainsborough painting. Under the leadership of Sarah Hillary the work was transformed to its former glory. After discussions with the Gallery we have pledged $5000 for 2021 to support the Gallery’s Learning and Outreach Programme by contributing to the cost of decile one schools to participate in this outstanding programme.

Contact AkDFAS


Chair : Nan Norris /
Co Vice Chairs: Jacqueline Thorley & Warwick Thorley

Membership : Brian Murray /

Committee : Adele Buchanan (Treasurer), Nina Jane Williams (Past Chair), Rosemary Dayman (Secretary), Pauline Ward, Ann Batten