Canterbury Decorative & Fine Arts Society (CADFAS)

Founded in 2001, CADFAS (Canterbury Decorative and Fine Arts Society) was the first NZ overseas member society of The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) in the UK. The success of the Society is built on the high quality of the monthly lectures which are given by lecturers of proven ability who are specialists in their field and are endorsed by The Arts Society. CADFAS is twinned with both the Harrogate and Brisbane River Societies, allowing for a regular exchange of programme details between the Societies.

CADFAS Programme Details

The lectures are held in the Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margaret’s College, 12 Winchester Street, at 7.30 pm on a Monday evening. They last approximately one hour and wine and sandwiches are served afterwards. Guests of current CADFAS members are most welcome ($25.00 per guest) and $15 for visiting members of other New Zealand DFAS Societies but we would appreciate their names in advance so name tags may be prepared. Please phone or text Jackie Watson 022 350 9547 or Libby Harrop 027 473 0028.

Good News – We have a full programme planned for 2021

Our 2020 Programme was affected by the Covid-19 situation, however we were still able to deliver two live lectures and two broadcast lectures – one to members at home and one to our venue. In 2021 we have made the decision not to attempt bringing any lecturers in from overseas. However, we are still offering a full programme of eight lectures, the four New Zealand-based lectures will be with us in person and the four UK-based Arts Society lecturers will deliver their lectures by live broadcast to our venues or to members at home if Covid-19 restrictions require this. We are optimistically anticipating an undisrupted year, but of course our arrangements may be subject to change if the need arises.


Returning members: due to the disruption of our 2020 programme, and thanks to the money that we have in reserve, CADFAS committee has agreed that we will roll over all 2020 paid membership subscriptions to cover the full 2021 programme as well. Therefore current members will not need to do anything for the new year except update any changed details if necessary. Please email to do this.

New Members – members of CADFAS pay an annual subscription of $120 which enables the society to organise a programme of eight lectures a year which are chosen to inform, stimulate and entertain. To apply for membership please download and complete CADFAS Membership Form 2021. Either email this to or post to Membership Secretary, CADFAS, PO Box 36507, Merivale, Christchurch 8146.

2021 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Neil Faulkner

Canterbury Lecture Date : Rescheduled to Monday 1 March 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Neil Faulkner was educated at King’s College Cambridge and Institute of Archaeology UCL. He works as a lecturer, writer, archaeologist and occasional broadcaster. Research Fellow, University of Bristol. Editor, Military History Monthly. Director, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project. Director, Great Arab Revolt Project. Author of The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain, Apocalypse, Hidden Treasure, Rome: Empire of the Eagles, and The Ancient Greek Olympics: a visitor’s guide. Author of forthcoming Lawrence of Arabia’s War. Major TV appearances include Channel 4’s Time Team, BBC2’s Timewatch, Channel Five’s Boudica Revealed and Sky Atlantic’s The British.


This lecture looks at how the other half lived. Using the evidence of street-front bars, first-floor bedsits, jerry-built tenements, the bordellos of Pompeii’s ‘red light district’, and the dingy servants’ quarters of the grand houses, we will explore the world of the ancient poor and their ‘street-corner’ culture.

Benny Castles

Canterbury Lecture Date : Monday 29 March 2021

For 20 years Benny has been associated with WORLD, a fashion brand now in its 3rd decade as one of NZ’s most iconic and Avant-garde fashion houses and retail experiences. WORLD was the first fashion brand in NZ to be given a retrospective at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 2005. Benny started his career with WORLD in retail and is now a partner, designer and director of the company. Benny’s face may be familiar from his appearance as a judge on the recent TVNZ reality fashion show Project Runway.


Unlike the older nations of Europe, New Zealand has little or no history or culture in fine fragrance and scent. The talk will focus on fragrance etiquette and scent profiles, but most importantly brand and fragrance history. Many of the brands date back to the 1700’s and some earlier. They touch on historical figures like Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Grace Kelly, JFK and Winston Churchill, as well as moments in time and object history. Benny’s presentations have been extremely successful with both men and women and especially for those less interested or experienced in fragrance as they are a wonderful eye-opener into history, culture and the cult of fragrance that has become such a globalised and dominant industry. The talk promises to be educational and informative as well as being fun and thought-provoking.

Nigel Bates

Canterbury Lecture Date : Monday 17 May 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Nigel Bates was the Music Administrator of The Royal Ballet from 2012 to 2020 and has been a performer for nearly forty years in and out of London’s Royal Opera House, including seventeen years as Principal Percussionist with the Orchestra. He has worked with many of the leading figures in the classical music industry and was also a producer for both the BBC’s Maestro at the Opera and Pappano’s Classical Voices documentary series. He is a regular contributor to the printed and online content of the ROH. Nigel has given lectures for over twenty years, including arts societies and conservatoires in the UK and across Australia.


The Nutcracker ballet has delighted audiences at Christmas for many decades yet it was deemed a failure at its initial performances. Based upon the current Royal Ballet production by Sir Peter Wright, this lecture takes a close look at how this well-loved ballet now takes its rightful place on stage and how the music of Tchaikovsky along with story-telling, design, dance and a little bit of stage ingenuity all come together to make the most magical escape for young and old alike. Fully illustrated with audio and performance video clips.

Dominic Riley

Canterbury Lecture Date : Monday 28 June 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder and teacher. He specializes in the restoration of antiquarian books and the creation of contemporary fine bindings. He teaches bookbinding both in the UK and USA, and his prize-winning bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library. He is a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and President of the Society of Bookbinders. In 2013 he won the prestigious Sir Paul Getty award in the International Bookbinding Competition, and his winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.


With the advent of the Arts and Crafts movement book-bindings became works of art in themselves. Dominic is one of a small number of bookbinders working today who create these unique Design Bindings. This lecture shows a range of these contemporary bindings, made variously for collectors, exhibitions, competitions, libraries and the occasional Booker shortlisted author. He will show how each design grows from a response to the text and illustrations of the printed book and explain the technical aspects of their execution. Contact for Guest Registration

Pete Bossley

Canterbury Lecture Date : Rescheduled to Monday 9 August 2021

BArch (Hons), NZCD (Arch), Registered Architect (NZ), Fellow NZIA, RAIA, NZIA Gold Medal 2012, Alliance Partner Group GSA, Chair NZIA Auckland 2006-2008
Pete Bossley has an extensive reputation in architecture and interior design, with particular experience in galleries, museums and residential. He is known for several memorable buildings such as the Museum of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa, the Sir Peter Blake extension to the National Maritime Museum in Auckland, many iconic houses throughout the country, apartment buildings and social housing projects. He has exhibited and lectured extensively on his work here and overseas. He has also taught architectural design for over 25 years and was adjunct professor of Architecture at Unitec Architecture and Landscape School.  In 2012 Pete was awarded the NZIA Gold Medal, the highest honour in New Zealand Architecture.


Pete will discuss the importance of ideas to underline good architecture, identifying themes which have run through 40 years of architecture, using projects from his practice as examples. Themes which have been developed over the years and in numerous projects include…
-Fault lines: architectural responses to the perils of living in a faulted land. This is not in terms of seismic engineering, but more of the narrative arising from our fragile geological situation, and how this awareness has generated ideas which have driven the design of architectural projects.
-Encampments: a series of projects which respond to the New Zealand landform by referencing the traditional courtyard house, modified to accept the power of our landscape, incorporating it in to the design of the houses rather than precluding it. Camp formations ranging from Roman military bases to kiwi campsites suggest the value of creating a large whole from a series of smaller pods. Other themes will include the importance of our skyscapes, natural light, balance and imbalance. Contact for Guest Registration

Nicholas Merchant

Canterbury Lecture Date : Monday 13 September 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Nicholas Merchant’s career has mirrored his abiding interest in antiques. He has worked for some of the major auction houses in London as well as running his own book business devoted to the decorative and fine arts. His particular interest is English 18th century furniture and country houses; he enjoys discussing objects, particularly in their historical context. He lectures extensively in the USA, South Africa, Europe and UK, including the V&A, as well as for the principal cruise lines. He is the Art Fund’s West Yorkshire Representative. He arranges specialist short breaks for collectors and a range of prestigious clients including groups of The Arts Society who enjoy visiting the treasures of the UK.


As rich and splendid as are the jewels of Europe, they almost pale into insignificance when considered against those of the Indian sub-continent. The jewels of India are of barbaric magnificence and worn by both sexes in staggering profusion. Indian royalty passing through the midst of their teeming subjects would only have been seen as a glittering coruscation of jewels, setting themselves apart, semi-divine, as, indeed, they believed themselves to be. But it is not just the jewels themselves which set Indian jewels apart from their European counterparts. For millennia, Indian jewels were set and treated in a way far removed from the work of jewellers in London, Paris and Rome. The settings are entirely distinctive. That was until the 19th century when the great jeweller Jacques Cartier arrived in India. An astute businessman, he sought not only to buy jewels in India, but came to show them that by cutting and setting their jewels in European fashion their inherited magnificence would be even more ravishing. He transformed Indian rulers, and he transformed Indian jewellery-making. All part of the glamorous and spell-binding story of Indian jewels.

Michelle Brown

CANTERBURY Lecture Date : Monday 18 October 2021 – BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE UK 

Michelle Brown, FSA, is Professor Emerita at SAS, University of London and a Visiting Professor at University College London. She was formerly the Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. She is a leading expert on Late Antique, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon culture and on manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells. She has published, lectured (including in Australia) and broadcast widely. Her many publications include: Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking Visual Culture.

Note: This lecturer replaces Gregory O’Brien, who is rescheduled to February 2022


The Luttrell Psalter offers a fascinating insight into life in England in the turbulent 14th century. Made in Norwich and Lincs for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, Lord of the Manor of Irnham (Lincs.) in the 1330s, its margins contain a riot of imaginative images peopled not only by saints and grotesques, but by the family and the ordinary folk who worked their land. Their successes and scandals are explored in coded images. For this was an age when kings were deposed by their adulterous queens, heiresses eloped with clerks and the property-merger marriages of barons risked incest. The Black Death was about to decimate Europe, the Scots and French were hostile, and the peasants were getting restless, stalking the margins of society and of the pages. Meanwhile, a hard-hitting Dominican friar sought to get Sir Geoffrey and his people to heaven and painted his spiritual teachings for them, illuminating the age-old cry ‘de profundis’ of the Psalms.

Mary Kisler

Canterbury Lecture Date : Monday 22 November 2021

Mary Kisler is an author, art historian and Radio New Zealand art commentator, having recently retired as Senior Curator, Mackelvie Collection, International Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Mary earned her master’s degree in art history and Italian at the University of Auckland in 1994. She has been a curator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki since 1998, caring for a collection that spans from c.1150 to 1950, a large part of which is European art but which also includes a small collection of Indian miniatures and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. In 2010 Godwit published her book Angels & Aristocrats: Early European Art in New Zealand Public Galleries. In 2019 the Auckland Art Gallery published her Hodgkins catalogue raisonnée to accompany a major Hodgkins exhibition.


Whereas in 17th century Dutch still life painting, every piece of fruit or tableware was redolent with symbolic meaning, modern French artists preferred to paint their families, lovers, and friends, either enjoying a meal, or savouring a glance of wine in one of Paris’s new and exciting Café-concerts. This lecture explores the central role such images play within the development of European Modernism.

CADFAS Supporting the Arts

New Zealand’s very first DFAS, the Canterbury Society continues to support a number of arts projects in the city.

YOUTH ARTS PROGRAMME : The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu delivers a Youth Arts Programme and CADFAS financially supports the transport for low decile school children to attend the programme, enabling school children to enjoy what is now one of the safest and most inspiring art museums in the world.

CHRISTCHURCH ART GALLERY MASTER CLASSES : In addition to the above programme Year 9-13 students are invited to take part in Master Classes at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu.  Students participate in one or more day long workshops led by an artist who features in the Gallery’s collection and exhibition programme.  Each workshop focusses on a different aspect of creating art and includes practical hands-on experience as well as looking at examples, discussions and activities to inspire ideas.

OBSERVATORY TOWER RESTORATION : CADFAS made a substantial donation in 2018 to the Christchurch Arts centre Observatory Tower Restoration Fund. Severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake, all major pieces of architectural masonry and other building materials were salvaged, documented and stored with the intention of restoration. A $10m fundraising campaign has been launched by the owners of the building, the University of Canterbury and CADFAS are pleased to contribute to the fund that will allow the complete restoration of the tower and star-gazing observatory.

Contact CADFAS



Chair : Judith Knibb / | Mobile: 027 348 1205 | Home 03 355 2098


Deputy Chair : Diana Holderness | Home 03 348 7866


Membership Secretary : Jackie Watson | Mobile 022 3509 547 | Home 03 312 6413