Marlborough Decorative & Fine Arts Society (MaDFAS)

Welcome to MADFAS. Each lecture is delivered by our international and New Zealand experts and offers a wide range of fine arts including, art history, sculpture, design, porcelain, craft, archaeology and ceramics. Lectures are lively, interesting and beautifully illustrated.

Our lectures start at 6.15pm in the Marlborough Research Centre, 85 Budge Street Blenheim. Lectures are an hour long and finish with a glass of wine and a sandwich and an opportunity to meet the lecturer.

our 2024 programme

In 2024 we offer a mix of accredited The Arts Society lecturers from the UK, two from New Zealand and one Australian-based lecturer. Six of these will be with us in person and two will come via live broadcast from the UK. With the online lectures, there are opportunities to view additional topics from home, tuning in to the lectures hosted by the other Societies around the country.

We hope that things will run smoothly but will be ready to adapt our programme arrangements if necessary.


New members: The annual subscription is $150.00 per person, or $270.00 for a couple. To join Marlborough DFAS, please complete the
MaDFAS 2024 Membership Application Form and mail with your internet payment to the Membership Secretary, PO Box 296, Picton, 7250.

Membership is limited and if the Society is over-subscribed there will be a waiting list.

Membership is not transferable.


We have limited door sales available at $25.00 per lecture. Members wishing to bring guests are given priority for spare seats, provided you contact us by the Monday preceding the meeting date. After that date supporters and casuals will be accepted on a ‘first request’ basis.
The cost for a casual attendee is $25.00 and the fee for visiting DFAS members is $20.00.

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


John Walsh

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 14 March 2024 – 6.15pm

John Walsh is a writer specialising in architecture. He edited Architecture New Zealand magazine from 2002 to 2011 and was managing editor of several leading design magazines before working as communications manager for Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects. He is the author of a dozen books on New Zealand architects and architecture, including City House, Country House: Contemporary New Zealand Homes (2016), Big House, Small House: New Homes by New Zealand Architects (2012) and Home Work: Leading New Zealand Architects’ Own Houses (2010). He edited the publications accompanying the New Zealand exhibition at the 2014 and 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Latterly, he has written guides to the architecture of Auckland (2021), Wellington (2022) and Christchurch (2023), published by Massey University Press, and with photographer Jane Ussher published Rooms: Portraits of Remarkable New Zealand Interiors.


In each of New Zealand’s four main cities you can still see 150 years of architectural history – despite urban growth and changes in economic fortune, seismic events, and civic carelessness. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin all retain buildings representative of the international architectural styles and movements that over the past century and a half have enjoyed their moment, from the Gothic Revival through Modernism to contemporary computer-aided shape-making. But although they shared architectural styles, the cities had their own particular histories and characters, and these too can still be read through their buildings. Drawing on his recent series of architectural guides to New Zealand’s four major cities, John Walsh traces the stories of the country’s most significant buildings, and of the architects who designed them.     

Dr. Natalia Murray

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 18 April 2024 – 6.15pm

Dr. Natalia Murray was born in St Petersburg where she gained BA and MA in the History of Art at the Academy of Fine Arts before taking the PhD course at the Hermitage Museum. In 2015 she has been awarded PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art. At present she works as an independent curator and an associate lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art where she teaches her MA course on the role of the exhibitions and private collections in Europe in 1863-1930. In 2017 she curated a major exhibition Revolution. Russian Art. 1917-1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She is currently working on several exhibition projects in London, Paris and US. Her latest exhibition The World as Non-Objective. The Birth of a New Art which traced the development of the new abstract art from Chagall to Malevich, was opened with high acclaim at the Jewish museum in Moscow in November 2022. Her books and articles extend across the wide field of 19-20 century European art, and she has featured in films and art programmes on BBC 4, BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. Natalia is also trustee of the Avant-Garde Art Research Project – a UK-based charity which shares one of her aspirations to reduce the number of fakes on the art market.


One of the pioneers of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky exploited the evocative interrelation between colour and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, sound, and emotions of the public. He believed that total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process. Highly inspired to create art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality, he innovated a pictorial language that only loosely related to the outside world, but expressed volumes about the artist’s inner experience. In this lecture we will look at paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and the origins of his first abstractions, as well as other Russian artists, who developed non-objective art in Russia.

Peter Medhurst

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 23 May 2024 – Broadcast live from the UK – 6.15pm 

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music in London and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He has presented events at all of the major concert venues in London – the King’s Place, the Barbican, St John’s Smith Square, and the Royal Festival Hall – on subjects that range from Beethoven String Quartets to 18th Century Venetian culture.  Radio work has included Classic FM, Radio 3, and Radio 4.  His recordings number For Two to Play, Schubert Songs, Handel and His Satellites, Tyme at the Virginalls, and On Christmas Night – a programme of Christmas carols and seasonal songs. 


It is arguable, that ‘The Glory of Venice’ might be seen as a 500-year period starting in 1453, when Venice began its steady decline, due to the knock-on effects of the fall of Constantinople. However, from that moment on – in the middle of the 15th century – Venice balanced its waning political importance, its loss of trade, its prominence as a sea-faring nation, by taking its artistic achievements to ever greater heights. Therefore, the paradox of Venice is that its ‘Glory’ is inextricably linked to its decline, because its ‘Glory’ reflects Venice’s never-ending passion for survival. The Lecture looks at Venice’s history, its art and its music, in order to assess how magnificent were its contributions to Western culture.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Peter 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.

Sarah Burles

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 27 June 2024 – 6.15pm

Sarah Burles studied History of Art at Cambridge University before doing a master’s degree at University College London. She went on to have a career in museum and gallery education, establishing new services in three different museums before working at the Fitzwilliam Museum for many years.  Sarah is the founder of Cambridge Art Tours, which runs tours and courses in and around East Anglia. She is also a Tour Director for a travel company and has led tours to Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and America. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Sarah moved her work online, offering art history courses to audiences all over the world.


The Impressionists were an innovative and radical group of artists whose took Paris by storm in the 1870s. Using new colours and techniques, they created paintings of modern life which shocked and horrified the art establishment. From the start the group included women artists but their contribution to Impressionism has often been overshadowed by their male contemporaries. Marie Bracquemond, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt all exhibited regularly at the Impressionist exhibitions alongside artists such as Monet, Renoir and Degas. In 1894 they were given the title “Les Trois Grandes Dames d’Impressionisme” by the art critic Gustave Geffroy. This lecture will discuss the lives of each of these artists and their work, revealing their skill and originality as well as their willingness to take risks, despite the additional obstacles they faced as women.

Charlie Waite

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 1 August 2024 – broadcast live from the UK – 6.15pm

One of the world’s leading landscape photographers, he has lectured for 25 years throughout the UK, Europe and the US. Has held numerous one-man exhibitions in London, exhibited twice in Tokyo, and was awarded the prestigious honorary Fellowship of the British Institute of Professional Photographers, as well as a Direct Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society. In 2007, he launched LPOTY – UK Landscape Photographer of the Year. Amongst many publications, the most recent includes Landscape; the Story of 50 Photographs (2005), and Arc & Line (2011). He was invited by the Royal Academy to exhibit in 2015’s summer exhibition.


A fully illustrated talk with in excess of 60 images exploring the relationship between the making of an image and the way in which it is perceived by the viewer. Further discussion around the eye and the brain being an extraordinary double act made up of visual references and intellectual interpretation.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Charlie will be delivering an additional topic to view from home. Details and links will be sent in advance.

Kathleen Olive

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 5 September 2024 – 6.15pm

Kathleen’s PhD was a study of artisanal culture in Renaissance Florence, through the lens of a goldsmith’s commonplace book known as the Codex Rustici. She lived and studied in Italy for a number of years, and then taught Italian language, literature and history at the University of Sydney. Kathleen now works with Academy Travel, leading tours to Europe and, particularly, Italy.


It is often assumed that the art and architecture of Norman southern Italy should be strongly tied to the invaders’ own French or adopted Italian influences. In this lecture, Kathleen investigates the Islamic and Byzantine models for Sicily’s imposing monuments. We consider why the monarchy chose to conflate two such disparate aesthetics in its iconography and how this reflected or advanced the power and wealth of the dynasty. Considering Palermo’s glittering Palatine Chapel, for example, or Cefalù’s imposing cathedral we uncover the values and taste of the Normans in Sicily.

John Francis

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 10 October 2024 – 6.15pm

John Francis is an experienced University Lecturer, consultant, researcher and visual artist. He grew up on Merseyside and was educated in Fine Arts and pedagogy in the UK and New York. An inspirational speaker who has delivered lecturers and workshops in the US (Texas, California, Massachusetts), Beijing, Malaysia and the UK, John initially trained as a painter and was awarded the Max Beckmann Memorial Scholarship in painting in Brooklyn, New York and went on to be artist in resident for the state of Texas. Later in his career John produced and directed several short films and animations. He has taught film, art and pedagogy at the University of Exeter, Arts University Bournemouth, University Sains Malaysia, Southwestern College, California, Brunel University, London and Kingston University. Lectures and workshops.


The Wall Street crash in 1929 led to a questioning of the success of the American dream. President Roosevelt stepped in with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the New Deal. The government initiative meant employment for over eight million largely unskilled Americans and importantly 5,300 artists. Murals, painting, photography, graphic design all flourished. In this lecture we will explore some of the key artists at this era. The abstract painter Jackson Pollock will be evaluated along with the social realism of Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn. The soundtrack of the era is provided by Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rogers.

Jill Trevelyan

Marlborough Lecture Date : Thursday 14 November 2024 – 6.15pm

Jill Trevelyan is a writer and curator based at Pukerua Bay near Wellington. Her books, published by Te Papa Press, include Toss Woollaston: A Life in Letters (2004), Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life (2008), Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer (2013) and Robin White: Something is Happening Here (with Sarah Farrar and Nina Tonga, 2022). Jill works part-time as Art Manager at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Te Manatū Aorere.


One of our best-loved artists, Rita Angus (1908-70) was a complex and fascinating woman whose ideas about feminism and pacifism played out in her art. Jill will discuss Angus’s life and work, focusing on her remarkable self-portraits.

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 : Jenny Tyney /  /

021 187 3650

Member’s Coordinator : John Aldridge / / 021 162 2074

Committee : Maree Leonard (Treasurer), Chris Borrie (Programme Coordinator), Ginny King (Minute Secretary), Jo Grigg,
Colleen Walker, Liz Dillon