The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay

Founded in 2013, The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay helps open up the world of the arts to everyone and supports the preservation of our New Zealand artistic heritage. We have a friendly and enthusiastic membership of approximately 220 who come together to enjoy an annual programme of eight lectures on a wide spectrum of arts-related topics. We also support the arts through a grant giving programme. Since inaugurating in 2013, The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay has contributed more than $40,000 to local and national arts projects and causes, including many with a youth focus.

Programme Details

There are eight lectures annually covering a diverse range of topics from architecture, design, glass, fashion, porcelain, ceramics, art and art history, sculpture and literature. The success of the Society is built on the high quality of presentations delivered by accredited specialists, all of who are approved in the UK for their proven subject matter expertise and presentation skills.

Lectures are held on a Monday evening at 7.00pm. Our lecture venue is the Magdalinos Room in the Havelock North Function Centre, 30 Te Mata Road. The Centre is situated beside the Library in the centre of the village. Light refreshments with a glass of wine or juice are provided after each lecture. Members and guests enjoy this opportunity to mingle with friends, talk with the lecturer and meet other members. For news on The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay, please follow us on Facebook and also on Instagram.


We are still challenged by the ongoing Covid-19 situation, however in 2021 we were able to deliver a full programme of eight lectures to members, either gathered at the venue or online at home. For the first half of 2022 we do not expect to be bringing any lecturers into New Zealand from overseas although remain optimistic that this may change by the end of the year. However, we are still offering a full programme of eight lectures, and hope that we will be able to gather for them all at our venue. There will continue to be a mix of accredited The Arts Society lecturers from the UK (delivered by live broadcast) and a couple of New Zealand and Australian based lecturers – ideally with us in person. 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 gathering restrictions require it.

Download a copy of our 2022 Programme here


Returning members:  Renewing members can simply pay their subscription as outlined below. You can email us to confirm or to update any changed details if necessary:

New members: to apply for membership please download and complete 2022 TASHB Membership Form

Our bank no longer accepts cheques, so payment should be made by direct credit to BNZ Bank Account: 02 0644 0164828 00
Please include your full name and reference as ‘2022 subs’. Either complete and scan the membership form back by email, or post it to the Membership Secretary, TASHB, PO Box 8444, Havelock North 4157.

Early Bird Special : Take advantage of a discounted subscription rate for the full year of 8 lectures – $130.00 per person for subscriptions fully paid no later than 15 February 2022.

After 15 February 2022, the annual fee is $150 per person or $280 for two people living at the same address. This covers the cost of the venue and equipment, travel and accommodation costs for the lecturer and refreshments after the lecture. As an incorporated charitable trust we are a non profit organisation.

Guests are welcome to attend two lectures a year at a fee of $20 per lecture. Membership is not transferable. The fee for visiting members from other NZ Societies will be $15.  Please notify the Membership Secretary, Pamela Reading-Windle by the Friday prior to the lecture if you are bringing a guest or to notify changes of contact details.   Phone: 027 568 8720 or Email:

Hawke’s Bay – 2022 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Ian Swankie

HAWKE’S BAY Lecture Date : Monday 21 February 2022  – Broadcast Live from the UK

direct to members at home –  7.00pm

A Londoner with a passion for art and architecture, Ian is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and gives tours around each venue. He is also a qualified and active freelance London guide and leads regular tours for various corporations and organisations. Since 2012 he has led a popular weekly independent art lecture group in his home-town of Richmond in West London. He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, one of the City livery companies.


London boasts a remarkable range of architecture and this talk reveals the evolution of the capital through its great buildings. We start with a brief look at the development of architecture in the capital and then focus on the modern. Whether we like it or not, there are currently well over 500 new buildings planned in London over twenty storeys high, including dozens more than twice this height. This is in addition to those already completed. This talk looks at the best of these buildings including the cutting-edge designs of the latest towers such as the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie, the Cheesegrater, the Scalpel and 22 Bishopsgate. We will discover their amazing architectural and engineering challenges and also examine the controversies and difficult social decisions needed to manage this dramatically changing skyline.

Caroline Shenton

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 21 March 2022 – broadcast live from the UK

direct to members at home – revised time: 7.30pm

Dr. Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it ‘microhistory at its absolute best’. Its acclaimed sequel, Mr Barry’s War, about the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine, and was described by Lucy Worsley as “a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful”. Caroline was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library in 2017, has appeared at the Cheltenham, Hay and Henley literary festivals and on BBC radio and TV. Caroline’s third book, National Treasures, will tell the extraordinary and sometimes hilarious stories behind the saving of London’s art and museum collections in World War Two.


This is the gripping and sometimes hilarious story of how a band of heroic curators and eccentric custodians saved Britain’s national heritage during our Darkest Hour. As Hitler’s forces gathered on the other side of the Channel to threaten these islands, men and women from London’s national museums, galleries and archives forged extraordinary plans to evacuate their collections to safety. Utilising country houses from Buckinghamshire to Cumbria, tube tunnels, Welsh mines and Wiltshire quarries, a dedicated team of unlikely heroes packed up their greatest treasures in a race against time during the sweltering summer of 1939, dispatching them throughout the country on a series of secret wartime adventures, retold in this talk.

Stephen Taylor

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 2 May 2022 – broadcast live from the UK

direct to members at home – 7.00pm

Stephen Taylor is an artist and art historian who studied John Constable as a post graduate at Essex and Yale, taught art at Felsted School and went on to became Head of Painting at The Open College of the Arts and course director for the Inchbald School of Design. In 2000, Stephen turned to landscape painting with early shows at King’s College Cambridge, Meisel’s New York and Vertigo in London. Now has pictures in private collections world-wide and his book Oak: One tree, three years, fifty paintings was featured in The GuardianThe New Statesman and on Oprah Winfrey’s website.


Movable canvas pictures for interiors – quadrati riportati – were introduced by Titian’s generation. These paintings were not ‘hung’ in the modern sense but incorporated into architectural schemes.What we now call picture hanging evolved slowly over time. The talk traces hanging fashions across three hundred years, from formal Palladianism and early private art galleries to a variety of more informal arrangements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We end with practical tips for today’s homes – without needing to re-arrange the furniture!  Artists, designers and houses: Tintoretto and The Scuola di Sn Rocco; Daniel Marot at Het Loo; Arthur Devis and Palladian interiors in the conversation piece; Galleries at Stourhead and Corsham Court; picture hanging in Dickens’ novels and some of the speaker’s own work hung in private collections.

Gregory O’Brien

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 13 June 2022 – 7.00pm

Poet, essayist, editor and artist Gregory O’Brien is a busy and energetic presence in both arts and literature within New Zealand. With one foot in the literary world and the other in the visual art realm, Gregory has been on the cultural scene for nearly three decades. Gregory trained as a journalist in Auckland and worked as a newspaper reporter in Northland before returning to study art history and English at Auckland University. Between 1997 and 2009 he was curator at the City Gallery, Wellington, and was awarded the Arts Foundation Laureate in 2012 and the MNZM in 2013. Greg has illustrated his own poetry books and has written three publications introducing art to young people. His artworks can be found on book covers worldwide and his poems and drawings were the basis for a winter fashion collection by Auckland designer Doris de Pont in 2006. He has produced books on artists including Ralph Hotere, Graham Percy and Pat Hanly and is currently working on a monograph of Don Binney.

Note: this lecture was originally scheduled for February.


Expanding on the artistic territories covered in his recent book Always song in the water (AUP 2019) and his forthcoming monograph on Don Binney, art writer/curator/poet Gregory O’Brien will explore aspects of the relationship between place, visual art and the written word in the recent art of Aotearoa/New Zealand  art. He will discuss the many ways that place–in particular the provincial landscape–has been a radicalising rather than a conservative force in this country’s imaginative life. Spanning the work of a number of artists O’Brien has written about in the past–among them Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Robin White, John Pule and Elizabeth Thomson–he will explore the imaginative possibilities of the landscape genre as well as signalling an evolving awareness of Oceanic realities that both challenges and enhances our understanding of these islands on which we live.

Andrew Hopkins

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : MONday 25 July 2022 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.00pm

Andrew Hopkins is a previous Assistant Director of the British School at Rome from 1998 to 2002 and since 2004, Associate Professor at the University of L’Aquila. Part of his PhD (Courtauld Institute 1995) on Venetian architecture was awarded the Essay Medal of 1996 by the Society of Architectural Historians (GB). A Fellow at Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2003-2004, and in 2009 was the Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Amongst his many publications are, with Arnold Witte, Alois RieglThe Origins of Baroque Art in Rome (2010), and Baldassare Longhena and the Venetian Baroque (2012). 


The Guggenheim family managed to amass extraordinary art collections, and design or acquire astounding buildings to display their art, their name even becoming a brand. This talk, based on Andrew’s experience working at the Guggenheim in Venice, examines the celebrated museums in New York, Venice and Bilbao, as well as the stunning works they display.

Barry Venning

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 29 August 2022 – 7.00pm

Barry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon’s Art & Ideas series, and several catalogue essays for exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland. He was the BBC’s script consultant on Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in a BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution.
Barry has also published a study of John Constable’s paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art. He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society, Christie’s Education and other organisations.


Outsider art is the name given to work produced by artists from all over the world who are untrained and outside the mainstream of twentieth and twenty-first century art. Their output ranges from tiny drawings a few centimetres wide to the world’s tallest wooden house. The artists include at least two postmen, a coal miner, psychics, unskilled labourers, several prisoners, psychiatric patients, a Russian ex-gangster and an Indian roads inspector. The one thing they have in common is a compulsion to make astounding art. Few of them are well known – but they all deserve to be.

John Stevens

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 3 October 2022 – BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE UK – 7.00pm

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.

Mary Kisler

Hawke’s Bay Lecture Date : Monday 7 November 2022 – 7.00pm

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.


This lecture examines the dialectic between Victorian morals and social constraints, not least for women, and how these ideas played out within the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the women they loved.

The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay supports these local arts-related organisations:

Creative Napier
Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre
MTG Hawke’s Bay

Contact The Arts Society HB


Chair :  Meg Bremner /
Membership :  Pamela Reading-Windle  /
Treasurer : Alison Ritchie
Committee  :  Jeanette Kelly, Carol Nelson, Diane Morris, Jan Cunningham, Ashley Macpherson, Charlotte Jackman, Jenny Corban

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