Auckland Decorative & Fine Arts Society (AkDFAS)

Established in 2003, Auckland Decorative & Fine Arts Society (AkDFAS) promotes and advances the cultivation, appreciation and study of decorative and fine arts, along with contributing to the preservation of New Zealand’s artistic heritage.

In 2021 AkDFAS enjoyed excellent lectures through the magic of Zoom and have had positive feedback regarding that medium, in the absence of in-person speakers, due to Covid restrictions on travel.

Topics ranged from the Perfume Masterclass (Benny Castles), NZ Architecture (Pete Bossley), to David Lean’s Art of Cinema and with another marvellous line up of experts on a variety of fascinating facts in the world of the Arts, we expect our lives to be further enhanced in 2022.

We continue our involvement with the Auckland Art Gallery, with private tours and support for the educational programme.


auckland-volunteersThe lectures are held at the Auckland University in the Owen Glenn Building, above the carpark.  

Parking is available in the Owen Glenn Building (entrance off Grafton Rd) for a $6.00 flat fee (cash helps).

Guests are most welcome ($30.00 per guest) but we would appreciate their names in advance so name tags may be prepared. Please email Lectures are held in the evening 7.30 pm to 8.30pm. A sandwich and glass of wine is served after the lecture.


our 2023 programme

We have continued to be challenged by Covid-19 and the border situation, however in 2022 we were able to deliver a full programme of eight Society lectures to members, either gathered at the venue or online at home. Additional online topics were also offered for home viewing.

In 2023, we return more to normal with a mix of accredited The Arts Society lecturers from the UK, and one New Zealand and one Australian based lecturer – most will be with us in person with just a couple by live broadcast. We hope that things will run smoothly but will be ready to adapt our programme arrangements if necessary. We will continue to deliver lectures directly to members at home if any gathering restrictions should require it.



Our annual subscription rate is $190.00 per person. Subscription notices are mailed in December and are payable by February 1st.

Returning members:   Please make payment by internet banking, then complete the AkDFAS 2023 Membership Form with any updated details and email to :

New members: To apply for membership, please click here for your 2023 Membership Form
Complete and make your payment according to the directions on the form.

Membership is not transferable, however Members’ guests are welcome. There is a charge of $30 per guest per lecture, and $15 for visiting members of other New Zealand DFAS Societies. Please notify by the Monday evening prior to the Wednesday lecture if you are bringing a guest.

Auckland – 2023 Lecturer Biographies and Topics


Geoffrey Edwards

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 22 February 2023 – 7.30pm

Geoffrey Edwards was Director of the Geelong Art Gallery, one of Australia’s oldest and largest regional galleries.   Prior to this appointment, he held Senior Curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Victoria where he was in charge of the collections of International and Australian sculpture and Melbourne’s celebrated holdings of ancient, antique and modern glass. His professional affiliations, here and abroad, are extensive and include, amongst others, the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, Visions Australia, the International Councils of Museums [ICOM], Craft Australia, Museums Australia [Victoria], the Winston Churchill Trust [he is a former Churchill Fellow], the George Baldessin Trust and the National Trust of Australia [Victoria]. He is the author of various monographs, numerous exhibition catalogues and contributes to journals in Australia, Japan, Britain and the US.


The toppling and vandalizing of prominent statues around the world has been an all-too-frequent news item in recent times. Citing the alleged moral failure or criminal culpability of the toppled subjects, the wrath of outraged crowds has focused on grand sculptural representations of kings, presidents, dictators and celebrated historical identities including Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook, assorted Confederate generals and Cecil Rhodes. But this is hardly a modern-day phenomenon. The Problematic Statue takes a look at the surprisingly long tradition of trashing public art in the interests of re-writing history.

Marc Allum

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 22 March 2023 – 7.30pm

Marc Allum is a freelance art and antiques journalist, writer and broadcaster based in Wiltshire. He is shortly to begin his 23rd year as a specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and has appeared on numerous television and radio programmes. Marc regularly writes for mainstream magazines and is an author, antiques consultant and lecturer. He also runs a fine art valuation and consultancy service. Marc has his own unique style with interests ranging from pre-history to modern design and is a self-confessed collectaholic. He has a passion and reputation for divining the unusual through ‘a desire to connect with history through the interpretation and pursuit of objects and their origins’. Marc has lectured widely for many years to a number of different organisations in both the public and charity sector, including travel companies, The National Trust, The WI and many literary festivals including Cheltenham, Bath, Wells and Petworth. Marc is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.


Marc Allum has been a ‘miscellaneous’ specialist on the BBC’s flagship Antiques Roadshow for 21 years. His personal insight and experience of the show and his knowledge of the world of art and antiques, makes him well-placed to talk about the many great discoveries over the past four decades. Together with his ‘anniversary’ book (Co-authored by Paul Atterbury) Marc explains the many facets of working with great objects, wonderful stories and excited owners. A must for all fans of Antiques Roadshow.

Karin Fernald

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 3 May 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

Karin is known for her entertaining lectures on writers and diarists connected with the arts from the mid-18th to 19th century and moving forward in time with Virginia Woolf. Extensive research into diaries and letters bring lectures to vivid life. Karin illustrates them with slides of contemporary pictures and portraits from varied sources.



A strong influence on younger brother Felix, the teenage Fanny Mendelssohn composed and played prolifically. Persuaded by their banker father to take a back seat, she married an impoverished artist who enjoyed collaborating with her. She continued to play and compose; publishing works under her brother’s name and, after their father’s death, under her own. She died aged 42. Of her exquisite songs Felix said “They prove that true music exists… that the soul is made of music.”
With songs by Fanny Hensel, portraits by Wilhelm Hensel, watercolours by Felix Mendelssohn and paintings by Caspar David Friedrich.

Note: With her online lecture circuit, Karin will be delivering eight 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.

Leslie Primo

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 14 June 2023 – 7.30pm

Leslie Primo holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, gave lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery for 18 years. Currently he lectures at the City Literary Institute, Imperial College, London, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute.


EIn an era of violence, desperation, naked aggression and open and rampant misogyny, this lecture will explore the troubled life and ambition of Artemisia Gentileschi. Growing up in the shadow of Caravaggio and her artists father this lecture will begin with her early works, her constant struggles against the patriarchy that would eventually lead to her rape. The lecture will then explore the impact of this on her paintings before and after this harrowing event, popular themes in her work, her close association with the Caravaggisti style and her treatment of the female anatomy. Finally, this lecture will look at the recently acquired work by Artemisia in the National Gallery and her time in England.

Andrew Prince

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 26 July 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

Andrew grew up with a passion for jewellery and was always determined that he would forge a career in jewellery design. At sixteen he started work in London’s Bond Street with the Antiques Roadshow expert Ian Harris. From there he worked with renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage, working in design and production. Andrew has a love of fine ’costume jewellery’ and antique pieces, realising the beauty of elegant design and fine craftsmanship. Andrew’s work started to become well-known and private commissions came from celebrities including Shirley Bassey and the late Michael Jackson. In 2002 the V&A commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the ‘Tiaras, Past & Present’ exhibition – and this exposure led to Andrew’s jewellery appearing in films. In 2005 he made pieces for ‘Mrs Henderson Presents’ starring Judy Dench: in 2009 for ‘The Young Victoria’ starring Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson; in 2012 for the third series of Downton Abbey for characters played by Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery.


In 1745, a Princess from the minor province of Anhalt-Zerbst in Saxony, married Prince Karl Peter Ulrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, heir to the Imperial Russian Throne. She was Princess Sophie Auguste Frederike and by 1762 she had deposed her husband, was crowned Empress Catherine II and became the sole ruler of the Russian Empire. With seemingly inexhaustible wealth, she set about creating the most glittering court in Europe, if not the world.
From the arts, to architecture, to the most dazzling of jewels, her passion for cultivating, commissioning and collecting only the finest has formed the nucleus of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. In his talk Andrew guides you through this fascinating time and illustrates what was created, lost and survives to this day, not to mention her private passions.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Andrew 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.

Paul Roberts

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 30 August 2023 – 7.30pm

Dr Paul Roberts is Head of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford University.  Paul has been a lecturer with The Arts Society for two decades, has travelled extensively to societies across the country, and has also lectured on numerous cruises. He studied Classics at the University of Cambridge, and Classical Archaeology at Sheffield and Oxford.  He then lived in Italy for several years, teaching, researching (and eating!). He has travelled the Roman Empire from Britain to Syria and has excavated in Britain, Greece, Libya, Turkey and in particular Italy. He is currently excavating a Roman Villa in the Molise region of Central Italy. His research focuses on the daily life of ordinary people in the Greek and Roman worlds, and he has written books and articles on Greek and Roman daily life, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Sicily, Roman Emperors, mummy portraits, and Greek and Roman ceramics and glass. He is now writing a walking guide to ancient Rome.   From 1994 to 2015 he was Senior Roman Curator in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum, where he curated the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (2013). At the Ashmolean from 2015, he co-curated Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Sicily and the Sea (2016) telling the history of Sicily through shipwreck finds. Most recently (2019/20) at the Ashmolean he curated Last Supper in Pompeii, a tribute to the Roman love affair with food and wine.


In this talk we look at one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world, the fabled city of Palmyra, in the Syrian desert. Palmyra arose on a trade route that brought silk, spices and other luxuries across the desert from the east. Her wealth and power are displayed in gorgeous monuments, while her people, wealthy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan, are preserved in their hauntingly beautiful stone funeral portraits.
Palmyra became so powerful during the Roman empire that the warrior queen Zenobia challenged Rome itself. We’ll see Palmyra’s meteoric rise and its dramatic fall, its rediscovery by English lords and its desecration by Isis. But there is hope that beautiful Palmyra will rise again…

Jane Malthus

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 4 October 2023 – 7.30pm

Dr Jane Malthus is a former Clothing and Textile Sciences and Design academic, and a dress historian and curator. Historical, social and cultural intersections and implications of dress and textiles worn and used by nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealanders are at the heart of her research practice.  She has published papers and chapters on topics including settler dress, dress reform, fur, lace, exhibition design, and co-curation, and is Honorary Curator of the Dress Collection at Otago Museum. A member of the Eden Hore Collection steering group and one of its patrons, she has been involved with that collection since the 1980s. She is currently a member of the Board of iD Dunedin Fashion.


The Eden Hore Collection comprises 200+ New Zealand extravagant designer dresses from the 1970s, now owned by the Central Otago District Council (CODC). Collected by a sheep and cattle farmer living near Naseby from the designers or retail stores, it has attracted many visitors to ‘Glenshee’ over the years. From the “why?” question to the “what next?” question, Jane will explain the collection and how they hope to show it in the future.

Gillian Hovell

Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 8 November 2023 – 7.30pm

Gillian Hovell gained a BA (Hons) in Latin and Ancient History, Exeter University, and then branched out into archaeology. She is an ex-BBC, lecturer for the British Museum and York University, and an award-winning writer and author who specialises in relating the ancient world to our modern lives, in person, in the field, on line and in the media (most recently on Radio 4). Publications include Visiting the Past: A guide to finding and understanding Britain’s Archaeology and Roman Britain. Forthcoming are Latin Yesterday, Today and For Ever, and A Mediterranean Tour: Not just a Load of Old Stones. Gillian teaches adult education courses in Latin, archaeology and ancient history and has publicly lectured widely and passionately, on cruises and tours and for museums such as the British Museum & Ashmolean, national press, universities, literary festivals, and diverse societies including Classical Associations, the U3A and the National Trust.


Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival. That annual midwinter party had astonishing tales of myths and legends behind it. Meanwhile, many of the pagan habits were absorbed into our Christmas traditions. Present-giving, holly and even party-hats all have their origins in this 2,000-year-old party. This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we un-wrap the images and stories behind our festive season.

AkDFAS Supporting the Arts

AkDFAS 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 : Nina Jane Williams /
Membership Secretary : Ann Batten /

Committee : Nan Norris (Deputy Chair), Adele Buchanan (Treasurer), Penny Guise (Immediate Past Chair), Charlotte Hellaby (Past Chair),  Rosemary Dayman, Linda MacFarlane, Jennie Oakley