nedfasNelson Decorative & Fine Arts Society (NEDFAS)

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 the lecture notes below. Thank you for your understanding.

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.



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 Nelson and Marlborough the first Societies in the country to meet again.

We look forward to seeing you all again on Wednesday, 5 August at 6.30pm



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.


NEDFAS Programme Details

The Nelson lectures are held on a Wednesday evening with a 6.30 pm 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.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 download and complete the NEDFAS 2020 Membership Subscription and email it 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 Programme: Lecturer Biographies and Topics


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 26 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.


The wreck of the Dutch East Indiaman Batavia on islands near the west coast of Australia in 1629 is one of the most notorious shipwreck stories of all time though it remains little known in Europe. The catastrophe involved a vicious mutiny that resulted in over one hundred survivors being systematically massacred on the islands off the Australian coast where Geraldton is now while they waited for help to arrive. The ship was carrying treasure, 16,000 daalder coins, but also a magnificent late Roman cameo, destined to be sold to the Mogul of India – or that had been the plan. The cameo dates from the fourth century AD and the court of Constantine the Great. Amazingly, the cameo was to survive the ghastly disaster and is today in Holland, while the wreck of the ship that carried it to Australia is now in the Shipwreck Museum at Fremantle. This lecture tells the ship’s story, and traces the cameo’s journey through these epic events looking at why it was there, who took it, why it survived and the events it witnessed.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 1 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.


Marc Allum has been a ‘miscellaneous’ specialist on the BBC’s flagship Antiques Roadshow for 21 years. His personal insight and experience of the show and his knowledge of the world of art and antiques, makes him well-placed to talk about the many great discoveries over the past four decades. Together with his ‘anniversary’ book (Co-authored by Paul Atterbury) Marc explains the many facets of working with great objects, wonderful stories and excited owners. A must for all fans of Antiques Roadshow.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 13 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.


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.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 17 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.


Oz supplied the shark and the rest is history. Damien Hirst rose to meteoric heights after his shark in formaldehyde achieved notoriety. His spot paintings and butterfly wing works command huge sums and his staggering exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable shown at the Venice Biennale in 2017 placed him as the Midas of makers in the art world.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 5 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.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 9 September 2020 / BROADCAST FROM THE UK 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.


During the 19th Century, Glasgow was known as the ‘Second City of the British Empire’. It was a vibrant place, a city which was growing – both industrially and culturally. It was within this innovative environment that the Glasgow Boys were born. The ‘Boys’ were a group of around 20 young artists who revolutionised Scottish painting by bringing it into the mainstream of European art. They rebelled against the elitist, Edinburgh dominated art scene, the artists they termed the ‘Gluepots’, and carved their own, distinctive paths. The Glasgow Boys were the subject of a successful Royal Academy exhibition, Pioneering Painters, in 2010. This talk explores their diverse, modern and inventive work.


Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 14 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.


In the winter of 1742, the King of France, Louis XV, received the ambassador of the Ottoman Sultan in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The ambassador’s six-month stay in France caused a sensation. He was fluent in French and charmed all who encountered him. He met artists and sat for his portrait to them. This lecture explores the circumstances of this remarkable visit and the role that art played in the diplomatic exchanges between France and the Ottoman Empire.

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, Michele Van der Post, Raphaella Carver, Susie Kirk, Claire Dowson, Catherine Butchard, Chris Jennings, Judith Fitchett

Membership enquiries :