nedfasNelson Decorative & Fine Arts Society (NEDFAS)

The Nelson Decorative & Fine Arts Society (NEDFAS) aims to foster interest in and knowledge of Decorative & Fine arts, artistic heritage, culture and history. We are a member society of the UK-based The Arts Society which has a global membership of over 90,000. The Nelson Society provides its members with eight high quality lectures per year. Our lecturers primarily come from the UK where they have undergone a stringent selection process to qualify as lecturers for The Arts Society. Our lecturers are excellent speakers who deliver well-researched and illustrated talks. Recent lectures have focused on architecture, design, glass, fashion, porcelain, ceramics, artists, art and art history, sculpture and literature.


​We have continued to be challenged by Covid-19 and the border situation, however in 2022 we were able to deliver a full programme of eight Society lectures to members, either gathered at the venue or online at home. Additional online topics were also offered for home viewing.

In 2023, we return more to normal with a mix of accredited The Arts Society lecturers from the UK, and one New Zealand and one Australian based lecturer – most will be with us in person with just a couple by live broadcast. 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 any gathering restrictions should require it.

NEDFAS Programme Details

The Nelson lectures are held at The Suter Theatre, Bridge St on a Wednesday with a 6.30pm start. The lectures are of one hour duration and are followed by a social time during which a glass of wine or juice and sandwiches are served. This provides an opportunity for members to meet the lecturer and other members.


The annual subscription is $135 per person, or $245 for a couple living at the same address.
Please download and complete the 2023 NeDFAS New Membership Form

The annual subscription covers the cost of venue and equipment, travel and accommodation for the lecturer, and refreshments after the lectures. Membership is limited to 180 members and a Wait List is managed by our Membership Secretary.

Please email forms to

Members are required to advise our Membership Secretary if they wish to bring a guest. We regret that any one guest is restricted to attending just three lectures per year. There is a charge of $25.00 per guest. Members of other DFASNZ or The Arts Society (international) are welcomed to our lectures at a charge of $15.00. To enquire about membership or guest attendances, please contact our Membership Secretary.

Nelson – 2023 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Geoffrey Edwards

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 1 March 2023 – 6.30pm

Geoffrey Edwards was Director of the Geelong Art Gallery, one of Australia’s oldest and largest regional galleries.   Prior to this appointment, he held Senior Curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Victoria where he was in charge of the collections of International and Australian sculpture and Melbourne’s celebrated holdings of ancient, antique and modern glass. His professional affiliations, here and abroad, are extensive and include, amongst others, the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, Visions Australia, the International Councils of Museums [ICOM], Craft Australia, Museums Australia [Victoria], the Winston Churchill Trust [he is a former Churchill Fellow], the George Baldessin Trust and the National Trust of Australia [Victoria]. He is the author of various monographs, numerous exhibition catalogues and contributes to journals in Australia, Japan, Britain and the US.


In this illustrated lecture, Streams of Fire and tongues of Flame, the ancient and remarkable history of glass as an art form is traced with reference to works in major public collections including the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The lecture also refers to glass-related imagery and symbolism in the visual arts, film and literature – a tradition that ranges in time and type from biblical allusion and Chaucerian dream visions of glass temples through to the novels of Daphne du Maurier, the films of Orson Wells, the poetry of Les Murray and recent science fiction.

Marc Allum

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 29 March 2023 – from 5.00pm 

Marc Allum is a freelance art and antiques journalist, writer and broadcaster based in Wiltshire. He is shortly to begin his 23rd year as a specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and has appeared on numerous television and radio programmes. Marc regularly writes for mainstream magazines and is an author, antiques consultant and lecturer. He also runs a fine art valuation and consultancy service. Marc has his own unique style with interests ranging from pre-history to modern design and is a self-confessed collectaholic. He has a passion and reputation for divining the unusual through ‘a desire to connect with history through the interpretation and pursuit of objects and their origins’. Marc has lectured widely for many years to a number of different organisations in both the public and charity sector, including travel companies, The National Trust, The WI and many literary festivals including Cheltenham, Bath, Wells and Petworth. Marc is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.


Marc explores the anatomy of collecting by using objects brought in by the audience to form an instant ‘Antiques Roadshow’ of history, anecdotes and audience involvement. Marc will bring a few small items of his own in addition to assessing and discussing those brought in by the audience.
This session will be free of charge for members. Guests will be $40 for workshop and lecture.

There will be a 30 minute break between the Special Interest Session and lecture.


Marc’s personal interests extend into many areas and his reputation for divining the unusual is well known. His passion for collecting ‘fakes’ forms a wonderful insight into the history of forgeries and reproductions and encompasses examples from many famous cases, including paintings, antiquities and silver, whilst also exploring the all-important subject of provenance.

Karin Fernald

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 10 May 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 6.30pm

Karin is known for her entertaining lectures on writers and diarists connected with the arts from the mid-18th to 19th century and moving forward in time with Virginia Woolf. Extensive research into diaries and letters bring lectures to vivid life. Karin illustrates them with slides of contemporary pictures and portraits from varied sources.


As a child, Hans Andersen made puppet costumes, taught by his cobbler father. Later in life he sketched, though he never had lessons. He produced collages which anticipate early 20th century modernism and his papercuts of swans, ballet dancers, court ladies, dancing millers, storks, the sandman and other folklore figures, are exquisite and magical. He was a sharp observer of life in Copenhagen, saying of his stories “Every character is taken from life; I know and have known them all.” He was a keen traveller over much of Europe and part of Asia; “Life is to fly with railway flight around the earth – we’re long enough underneath it!” And, influenced by his friend, scientist H.C. Orsted, he was thrilled by the scientific discoveries of his day, even putting them into some of his 156 published stories. With slides of Andersen’s sketches, papercuts and collages, and illustrations of his stories by artists from all over the world, including Arthur Rackham, Edmond Dulac, Lars Bo and Kai Nielsen, and with paintings by Christen Kobke and other Danish artists from Andersen’s day. In her new study day on Andersen, Karin will enlarge further on all of the above.

Note: With her online lecture circuit, Karin will be delivering eight 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.

Leslie Primo

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 21 June 2023 – 6.30pm

Leslie Primo holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, gave lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery for 18 years. Currently he lectures at the City Literary Institute, Imperial College, London, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute. 


In the late 18th century, Britain led the way in the major industry of slavery, which although it did not invent, it did industrialise to an extent never seen before in human history. However, the idea that the enslavement of human beings and the dehumanising to the status of animals was in fact wrong was just beginning to take hold of the consciences of some people in England at this time.
This lecture will trace the Beginnings of Abolition through the eyes of Dido Elizabeth Belle a black woman living in Kenwood House in the late 18th century, and the only known portrait of her painted by the German, but London based Neo-classical painter Johann Zoffany (1733-1810). What made her so different from other blacks living in London at this time, how did Dido come to live at such a grand house at the height of slavery in Britain, what exactly was her status and how was she treated?
In the light of these fundamental questions, this lecture will take us back in time on a journey that will not only look at the image of Dido, but will also look at a variety of images by artists such as Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). These artists and their paintings will be seen in the context of abolition, the changing social attitudes towards the industry of slavery, and the first stirrings of the Anti-Slavery movement in Britain.

Andrew Prince

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 2 August 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 6.30pm

Andrew grew up with a passion for jewellery and was always determined that he would forge a career in jewellery design. At sixteen he started work in London’s Bond Street with the Antiques Roadshow expert Ian Harris. From there he worked with renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage, working in design and production. Andrew has a love of fine ’costume jewellery’ and antique pieces, realising the beauty of elegant design and fine craftsmanship. Andrew’s work started to become well-known and private commissions came from celebrities including Shirley Bassey and the late Michael Jackson. In 2002 the V&A commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the ‘Tiaras, Past & Present’ exhibition – and this exposure led to Andrew’s jewellery appearing in films. In 2005 he made pieces for ‘Mrs Henderson Presents’ starring Judy Dench: in 2009 for ‘The Young Victoria’ starring Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson; in 2012 for the third series of Downton Abbey for characters played by Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery.


In 1745, a Princess from the minor province of Anhalt-Zerbst in Saxony, married Prince Karl Peter Ulrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, heir to the Imperial Russian Throne. She was Princess Sophie Auguste Frederike and by 1762 she had deposed her, was crowned Empress Catherine II and became the sole ruler of the Russian Empire. With seemingly inexhaustible wealth, she set about creating the most glittering court in Europe, if not the world.
From the arts, to architecture, to the most dazzling of jewels, her passion for cultivating, commissioning and collecting only the finest has formed the nucleus of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. In his talk Andrew guides you through this fascinating time and illustrates what was created, lost and survives to this day, not to mention her private passions.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Andrew 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.

Leigh Capel

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 6 September 2023 – 6.30pm

Leigh has been employed in the art industry as a valuer and specialist since 2013, and has worked at distinguished auction houses including Menzies, Mossgreen and Sotheby’s. In 2018, he became the Director of Belle Epoque Fine Art & Antiques, his mother’s business, known for supplying art and furniture to the Australian Film & Television industry, particularly Baz Luhrmann’s films. He is an accredited valuer of the Auctioneers & Valuers Association of Australia. Since 2019, Leigh has exhibited art and more recently has provided valuations at The Sydney Fair at Royal Randwick and The Melbourne Fair at Caulfield Racecourse. His projects have featured in Vogue Australia, ABC News, FilmInk magazine and The Daily Telegraph. He has also presented lectures across Australia as part of the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Societies. His experience within the auction industry and outside as an art dealer provides a rounded perspective of the art market and art history.


Leigh will discuss the value of art in our everyday lives and dissect the reasons why we consume art. Art is a universal language that transcends borders, socioeconomic, political and cultural constructs with numerous shared and distinguishing themes. Value can be broken down into five main areas; market, historical, cultural, contextual and sentimental value. All have relevant and contrasting factors that influence the importance and purpose of a piece of art. There are numerous individuals within society who determine value, and Leigh will identify and assess their importance and influence. He will analyse the current art market (primary and secondary), and discuss how trends are introduced and managed in relation to value. He will also discuss how research and provenance are an essential part of determining value in art.

Jane Malthus

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 11 October 2023 – 6.30pm

Dr Jane Malthus is a former Clothing and Textile Sciences and Design academic, and a dress historian and curator. Historical, social and cultural intersections and implications of dress and textiles worn and used by nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealanders are at the heart of her research practice.  She has published papers and chapters on topics including settler dress, dress reform, fur, lace, exhibition design, and co-curation, and is Honorary Curator of the Dress Collection at Otago Museum. A member of the Eden Hore Collection steering group and one of its patrons, she has been involved with that collection since the 1980s. She is currently a member of the Board of iD Dunedin Fashion.


The Eden Hore Collection comprises 200+ New Zealand extravagant designer dresses from the 1970s, now owned by the Central Otago District Council (CODC). Collected by a sheep and cattle farmer living near Naseby from the designers or retail stores, it has attracted many visitors to ‘Glenshee’ over the years. From the “why?” question to the “what next?” question, Jane will explain the collection and how they hope to show it in the future.

Gillian Hovell

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 15 November 2023 – 6.30pm

Gillian Hovell gained a BA (Hons) in Latin and Ancient History, Exeter University, and then branched out into archaeology. She is an ex-BBC, lecturer for the British Museum and York University, and an award-winning writer and author who specialises in relating the ancient world to our modern lives, in person, in the field, on line and in the media (most recently on Radio 4). Publications include Visiting the Past: A guide to finding and understanding Britain’s Archaeology and Roman Britain. Forthcoming are Latin Yesterday, Today and For Ever, and A Mediterranean Tour: Not just a Load of Old Stones. Gillian teaches adult education courses in Latin, archaeology and ancient history and has publicly lectured widely and passionately, on cruises and tours and for museums such as the British Museum & Ashmolean, national press, universities, literary festivals, and diverse societies including Classical Associations, the U3A and the National Trust.


Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival. That annual midwinter party had astonishing tales of myths and legends behind it. Meanwhile, many of the pagan habits were absorbed into our Christmas traditions. Present-giving, holly and even party-hats all have their origins in this 2,000-year-old party. This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we un-wrap the images and stories behind our festive season.

NEDFAS Supporting the Arts

In 2019 our members were very fortunate to have Julie Catchpole, Director of the Suter Gallery, offer our members an exclusive viewing of Royce McGlashen’s exhibition ’70 for 70’. This tour preceded Ian Swankie’s lecture ‘Pots and Frocks – the world of Grayson Perry: From Essex Punk Potter to Superstar National Treasure’.

From this exhibition NEDFAS presented two Royce McGlashen plates to the Suter Collection. The title of the exhibition ’70 for 70’ referred to Royce’s 70th birthday as well as the challenge to himself to create 70 ‘plates’; the plates and paintings reflected on his inspirations, and in some cases on his own development in ceramics. Royce and his wife Trudie attended the viewing and contributed towards the discussion of his work. The tour was well attended by our members.

Contact NeDFAS


Chair  :  Claire Grant /
Deputy Chair  :  Deborah Moore
Committee : Ainslie Riddoch, Raphaella Carver,  Claire Dowson, Catherine Butchard, Chris Jennings, Judith Fitchett, Frances Taylor

Membership enquiries :