Marlborough Decorative & Fine Arts Society (MaDFAS)

Please note : Due to the Coronavirus situation we have cancelled our April, May and June lectures. We will be resuming in August – please refer to lecture notes below. Thank you for your understanding.

Marlborough Decorative & Fine Arts Society (MaDFAS) welcomes enquiries about the Society, the seventh to be established in New Zealand.


Due to the travel restrictions imposed by Covid-19, our scheduled UK lecturer will be unable to be with us. However we are very pleased to be relaunching our 2020 Lecture Programme with a wonderful New Zealand speaker.

New Zealand is the first country to be resuming lectures post-Coronavirus lock down, and Marlborough and Nelson the first Societies in the country to meet again.

We look forward to seeing you all again on Thursday, 6 August at 6.15pm




For 20 years Benny has been associated with WORLD. WORLD is 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 it is 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.



 To join Marlborough DFAS, please download the Membership Application Form 2020, fill in your details and mail with your payment to the Membership Secretary, PO Box 296, Picton, 7250. 

Please note we are currently fully subscribed and new applicants will be placed on a waiting list. Annual membership is $150.00 per person or $270.00 for a couple living at the same address. The fee covers the cost of the membership fee, venue and equipment, travel and accommodation cost for the lecturer and refreshments following the lecture. The fee for visiting DFAS members is $20.00. Limited door sales are available at the cost of $30.00 per lecture. Members wishing to bring accompanying guests will be given priority for spare seats, provided we are notified by the Monday preceding the meeting date. After that date supporters and casuals will be accepted on a ‘first request’ basis. The cost per casual attendee is $30. Membership is not transferable.

For further information or to notify changes of contact details please email


Marlborough Programme: Lecturer Biographies and Topics



Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 27 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.


One of the most extraordinary facts about the Roman Empire is that the first five emperors were members of the same family but not one was the son of his predecessor. In reality the bloodline passed down through the female line. Descent from Augustus’ sister Octavia, his wife Livia’s sons by her previous husband, and Augustus’ daughter Julia, turned out to be the only way Rome’s first and longest-lasting dynasty existed at all. Alongside such famous emperors as Caligula, Claudius and Nero were the women of the Julio-Claudians whose dynastic significant conferred on them exceptional power. Some almost ruled in their own right, challenging the customs and traditions of the male-centric Roman world to the core. This lecture looks at these women through the art and sculpture of the time and later centuries, and also on coins, telling their remarkable stories.


Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 2 April 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.


Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 14 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.


Calcutta was the second city of the British Empire and a hub of cultural and artistic production throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This lecture provides an overview of the arts (poetry, theatre, literature, song) and architecture of this extraordinary city, which was India’s capital until 1911. At the epicentre of the ‘Bengal renaissance’, Calcutta played a central role in shaping the arts and culture of modern India, as a huge variety of artists sought to interpret India’s classical heritage in new ways, and to combine this heritage with Western cultural forms. This lecture examines how Calcutta’s arts and architecture were affected by British rule, and explores the fascinating ways in which Indian artists viewed the British in India. 


Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 18 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.


Australian artist and friend of the Impressionists. Two of his friends at art school in Paris were Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. Monet highly rated Russell’s work, and Matisse, said that Russell had taught him everything he knew about colour. Another artist and friend, the sculptor Rodin, said that in the future Russell would be as famous as himself, Monet and Renoir. This did not turn out to be the case. But in later years Russell’s work has received increasing attention, and his paintings shown in exhibitions in Australia, France and England. Last year he was showcased in the exhibition of Australian Impressionists at London’s National Gallery. During their lifetimes Russell was more successful than the unknown van Gogh. What reversed this situation? How do artists become famous? Who writes the canon? A good story has much to do with it. And good publicity. Van Gogh’s story is well known. But the extraordinary story of his friend Russell is rarely told. But he was an excellent painter and led an interesting vagabond life in Australia and Europe. And his story of a life devoted to adventure, love, tragedy and art is one worth telling.


Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 6 August July 2020 / LECTURER REPLACED 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.


The Nazis looted over 20% of Western Art during World War II, confiscating art from Jewish families and emptying museums throughout Europe. This lecture will provide an overview of Nazi looting by setting the scene in Nazi Germany, discussing Hitler’s obsession with art and how the Monuments Men recovered art after the war.  Several landmark cases will be discussed in detail, including Gustav Klimt’s celebrated Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer and the stash of over 1200 artworks found in possession of the son of a notorious Nazi dealer.


Blenheim Evening Lecture Date : Thursday 10 September 2020 / BROADCAST FROM THE UK due to coronavirus

Blenheim Special Interest Session : Friday 11 September 2020 

/ SPECIAL INTEREST SESSION Cancelled due to coronavirus

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.


The first half of the 20th century was a golden age for figurative painters in North America. Many of the most reproduced images from American Art History were created during this time – Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’, Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Christina’s World’, as well paintings by Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper and the Ashcan School of painting. This talk will explore the most iconic images to come out of America, all of which are firmly etched in the public consciousness.


Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak – John Berger, Ways of Seeing. A recent survey found that an average viewer looks at a painting in a museum for just 2 seconds. Why are gallery goers spending so little time interacting with art? Paintings are often designed to be ‘read’, they contain hidden messages, secrets and symbols. These aren’t always obvious upon first glance. This course will help to arm viewers with the necessary skills to approach a painting in a gallery or museum, examine it in detail, and delve beneath the surface of the work. During the course we will ask pertinent questions relating to how we view paintings: What  makes a ‘masterpiece’? How much should we let an artist’s life story affect how we view their work? How do artists create drama and beauty in their works? How important is it to understand symbols when looking at a painting? We will draw upon a wide variety of artistic periods and movements, looking at iconic works from the Italian Renaissance, British 18th Century, French 19th Century, the Pre-Raphaelites and from the American 20th Century.


Blenheim Lecture Date : Thursday 15 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.


In the 19th century enterprising artists travelled from Britain to New Zealand to forge new lives, teaching art and painting. Britain provided a large and ready market for their works. Remarkable paintings of New Zealand’s landscapes, culture and people, and by artists including Frances Hodgkins, Charles Goldie, John Drawbridge, Ralph Hotere and many others are held in UK public collections. Remarkably, around 80% of the paintings are held in store but have been uncovered in a unique project called Art UK (, into which the lecture offers a fascinating insight.



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.


With the establishment of the Royal Manufactory of the Gobelins in Paris in 1662, France replaced Italy as the tastemaker for the decorative arts in Europe. The Gobelins factory brought together in one place the best Italian, Flemish, German and French craftsmen. There, with the benefit of unlimited royal patronage, they created exquisite furniture, tapestries, and silverware for one discerning client – the Sun King, Louis XIV. The productions of the Gobelins were the envy of the rest of Europe and every European ruler sought to imitate the Sun King’s taste.

MaDFAS in the Community

MaDFAS is a registered charity and supports a range of local arts-related projects. In 2015 we were delighted to make a donation to the Marlborough Museum for the restoration of five very early vessels by well-known potter Elizabeth Lissaman.  Along with all the other DFAS New Zealand Societies, we also contributed to the Frances Hodgkin’s project. In 2016, MaDAS funded the framing of  works by AA Deans and Graham Percy for the Millenium Public Art Gallery so that they could be displayed as part of their new Collection exhibition. In 2017 we have funded a $500 First Prize in the Annual Members’ Exhibition of the Marlborough Art Society.  Our MaDFAS Chair was one of the three judges, who selected ‘Beyond Measure’ by Danielle Yealands as a worthy winner.

Bowl by Elizabeth Lissaman, c 1927, Gift of Dame Alison Roxburgh

The Kiwi – Fourteen Aspects, Graham Percy, 2005

Farmland View to Water (Weld Pass, Marlborough), AA Deans





Contact MaDFAS


Chair : Pat O’Brien / /

027 281 2851

Membership Secretary : John Aldridge / / 021 162 2074

Committee : Chris Borrie, Jenny Tyney, Jo Grigg, Jenny Black, Christine Andrews, Maree Leonard, Louise McKenzie