Auckland Decorative & Fine Arts Society (AkDFAS)

Please note : Due to the Coronavirus situation we have cancelled our March, May, June and July lectures.  We intend resuming in August with some programme changes – please see lecture details below. Thank you for your understanding.

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.

AkDFAS Programme Details

auckland-volunteersThe lectures are held at the Auckland University – Room B28 below the University Library. Entrance off Albert Street, Auckland City. 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.


To apply for membership, please download the AKDFAS 2020 Subscription Form, complete and send it with your payment according to the directions on the form. Subscription notices are mailed in December and are payable by February 1st. 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.

2020 Lecturer Biographies and Topics


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 19 February 2020

Guy de la Bédoyère is a historian and archaeologist well-known for his frequent appearances on Channel 4’s Time Team and his numerous books on Roman history and other topics for Batsford, Thames and Hudson, Yale University Press and others. Guy has degrees from the universities of Durham and London and worked for many years in the BBC. He also taught History and Classical Civilization at a girls’ grammar school for nine years. Guy has lectured to societies in Britain, the Gloucester History Festival and also in Australia. He is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.


This lecture looks at the various social classes in Pompeii and Herculaneum used art, sculpture and architecture to advertise their social status. Roman society was very hierarchical but there was also great social mobility. Slaves could be freed and as freedmen they were keen to use business to acquire wealth which would buy political careers for their sons. They invested some of that wealth in showcase houses and tomb, aping the ostentation of the Roman world’s senatorial super rich. The upper classes in Pompeii and Herculaneum endowed their cities with public buildings and expected to be honoured by the community with monuments and votes in elections. This lecture explores some of Pompeii and Herculaneum’s remains in the context of those social classes and the history of the cities, but with a particular focus on real individuals like the public priestess Eumachia, the freedwoman Naevoleia Tyche, the businesswoman Julia Felix and many others.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 25 March 2020 / Cancelled due to coronavirus

Marc Allum is a freelance art and antiques journalist, writer and broadcaster based in Wiltshire. He has worked as a specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow for 22 series and has appeared on numerous other television and radio programmes. Marc regularly writes for mainstream magazines and is an author, antiques consultant and lecturer. He has contributed to or written 15 books including the 40th anniversary Antiques Roadshow – Forty Years of Great Finds, which he co-authored with colleague Paul Atterbury. He also runs a fine art valuation and consultancy service.


An amusing and anecdotal collection of stories and personal insight from Marc’s 30 years in the world of art and auctions. From million pound pots to a lock of Nelson’s hair, this is a riveting romp through the life of a working auctioneer.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 6 May 2020 / Cancelled due to coronavirus

Dr John Stevens is a Research Associate at SOAS, University of London, and a member of academic staff at the SOAS South Asia Institute.  His PhD in History is from University College London. He teaches British Imperial history, Indian history and Bengali language, and is a regular visitor to India and Bangladesh. He publishes widely in the fields of British and Indian history. His biography of the Indian guru Keshab Chandra Sen – Keshab: Bengal’s Forgotten Prophet – was published by Hurst and Oxford University Press in 2018. He appears regularly in the Indian media and was recently a guest on BBC Radio Four’s In Our Time, discussing the poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore.


Before the British arrived in India, the Indian subcontinent was ruled by the Mughal Emperors. The stunning buildings and gardens they constructed from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century have left an indelible stamp on India’s architectural and cultural landscape. Mughal architecture fused elements from Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural traditions, and gave rise to some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in the world. From the Jama Masjid in Delhi, to the Taj Mahal in Agra, to the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, this lecture will take you on a tour of some of India’s greatest buildings, and provide insight into the historical contexts and colourful personalities involved in their construction.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 10 June 2020 / Cancelled due to coronavirus

Lucrezia Walker is a regular lecturer at the National Gallery both in front of the paintings and in the lecture theatre. For the Tate Gallery’s Development Department she speaks to their corporate sponsors in their offices and at their private receptions in both Tates. She teaches US undergraduates on their Study Abroad semesters in London. She was Lay Canon for the Visual Arts at St Paul’s Cathedral 2010-2014.


Living and working in Montmartre and Montparnasse in turn of the century Paris, Modigliani embodies the quintessential image of the bohemian artist: handsome, impoverished, living hard, engrossed in his own distinctive mode of expression, dying young only to be celebrated after his short life ended.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 29 July 2020 /  Cancelled due to coronavirus

Shauna Isaac has been active in World War II art restitution for several years and has worked with families and government organisations to recover Nazi looted art. She set up the Central Registry on Looted Cultural Property and served as a member of the Working Group for the Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague. Shauna studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in the UK and Smith College in the USA. She is a regular lecturer at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Her publications include articles for The Art Newspaper, The Times Literary Supplement and Art Quarterly. She is a contributor to the book Insiders/Outsiders: Refuges from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British Visual Culture.


We have all heard about audacious art heists that are more like blockbuster movies than run-of-the-mill burglaries. In this lecture, we are going to look at famous art thefts, discuss what motivates art thieves as well as examine what aspects the thefts have in common. We will also look at where the burglars made mistakes, which enabled investigators to swoop in and recover stolen masterpieces. In many cases, the police sting operations were just as daring as the thefts.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 2 September August 2020 / RESCHEDULED TO 26 AUGUST Due to coronavirus AND DELIVERED VIA ONLINE BROADCAST TO MEMBERS AT HOME

Stella Lyons gained her BA in the History of Art with a 1st class in her dissertation from the University of Bristol, and her MA in History of Art at the University of Warwick. She spent a year studying Renaissance art in Italy at the British Institute of Florence, and three months studying Venetian art in Venice. In addition, she attended drawing classes at the prestigious Charles H. Cecil studios in Florence. In 2017, Stella was selected by The Arts Society to lecture at the launch of ‘Drawing Room Discussions’ in association with ROSL ARTS, hosted by Guardian arts correspondent Maev Kennedy. Stella runs her own art history courses and she is also a regular lecturer in the UK and Europe for The Arts Society, National Trust, Contemporary Arts Society Wales (CASW), Classical Education Forum, WEA, and several travel companies. Stella also works as an artist’s model for the internationally renowned figurative artist, Harry Holland.


A recent survey found that an average viewer looks at a painting in a museum for two seconds. Why are gallery goers spending so little time interacting with art? Paintings are often designed to be ‘read’, they contain hidden messages and symbols. These aren’t always obvious upon first glance; why are there oranges in van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Portrait’? Where did Hans Holbein hide his messages about mortality in ‘The Ambassadors’? This talk will help to arm viewers with the necessary skills to approach a painting in a gallery or museum, and examine it in detail, delving beneath the surface of the work.


Auckland Lecture Date : Wednesday 7 October 2020 / BROADCAST FROM THE UK due to coronavirus

Mary Rose Rivett-Carnac gained a 1st class honours degree in History of Art & English Literature, and an MA (Distinction) in Victorian Media & Culture from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has written several arts-related articles and is a guide at Dorich House Museum, studio-home of the Russian sculptor Dora Gordine, and at Turner’s House in Twickenham. Since 2007 Mary Rose has worked part-time for the acclaimed arts project, Art UK.


Art UK is a project set up to catalogue paintings held in public collections across the United Kingdom. Remarkably, around 80% of these paintings are held in store and rarely seen ( Art UK has uncovered many paintings relating to Malta, either by Maltese artists or visiting British artists. Its history is recorded in fascinating paintings ranging from depictions of the Great Siege of 1565 to the devastating bombardment in WW2, following which Maltese islanders’ heroism was recognised in a unique way by King George VI. Other paintings portray Malta’s people, palaces, historic cities and unforgettable sea views.


Auckland Lecture Date – Wednesday 11 November 2020

David Maskill studied at the University of Canterbury (MA) and for a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. From 1993-2019, he was senior lecturer in Art History at Victoria University of Wellington where he taught courses on European art from the medieval period to the French Revolution. He has participated in both the Attingham Summer School (2010) and the Attingham Royal Collection Studies course (2017) for the study of historical country houses and their collections.


In the winter of 1742, the King of France, Louis XV, received the ambassador of the Ottoman Sultan in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The ambassador’s six-month stay in France caused a sensation. He was fluent in French and charmed all who encountered him. He met artists and sat for his portrait to them. This lecture explores the circumstances of this remarkable visit and the role that art played in the diplomatic exchanges between France and the Ottoman Empire.

AkDFAS Supporting the Arts

AkDFAS enjoys a close relationship with the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki. We have a three year commitment to support the conservation of John Sparrowe Esq, a Gainsborough painting. The Gallery has taken groups of our members on fascinating tours of their  Conservation Department and we have been able to view the work being undertaken on this painting. We look forwarded to the completion of the work in 2020. The Society is also committed to supporting decile one schools visit the gallery which has an outstanding school programme  engaging the children and broadening their horizons.


Contact AkDFAS


Chair : Penny Guise /
Membership Secretary : Ann Batten /

Committee : Charlotte Hellaby (Past Chair), Nina Jane Williams (Vice Chair) Nan Norris (Treasurer), Rosemary Dayman, Linda MacFarlane, Jennie Oakley