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.

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.

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 2024 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.

Please email forms to

We welcome guests to all our lectures – $25 cash payable at the door.
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 on the email address above.

Nelson – 2024 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

John Walsh

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 13 March 2024 – 6.30pm

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

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 17 April 2024 – 6.30pm

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.


In this lecture we will take 1910 as a starting point – the year when the term avant-garde was used for the first time in Russia and when art freed itself from the need to represent reality or observe academic convention. And for this liberation of Russian art artistic developments in Paris were crucial. Many Russian avant-garde artists, including Mark Chagall, Petr Konchalovsky, Aristarkh Lentulov and David Shterenberg had lived and studied in Paris. For Marc Chagall, Paris was his chosen city, and thanks to the avant-garde movements of the 1910s, it provided the young painter with a pool of experimental work, which he enriched with his own cultural references. He lived and worked in Paris most of his long and eventful life – here he accomplished such important commissions as the ceiling of the Paris Opera theatre.

Peter Medhurst

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 22 May 2024 – Broadcast Live from the UK – 6.30pm 

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.


Leonard Bernstein once observed ‘what makes Beethoven great is his perfect sense of form – his ability to realise what the next note always had to be.’ Up to a point I think Bernstein is correct in his assessment, since Beethoven does project a wonderful sense of self-assuredness in his music, giving the impression that the end product was inevitable and that all he had to do was bother to put the dots down onto the page. However, as Beethoven himself said ‘I carry my thoughts around with me for a long time . . . I change things, discard and try again until I am satisfied’, suggesting that like a craftsman, Beethoven often had to hone his ideas into shape until the right solution presented itself. Beginning with the Pathétique Sonata and chartering a course through the symphonies, and the string quartets, Peter Medhurst explores Beethoven’s musical style in order to find what it is that gives Beethoven’s music its unique sound.

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

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 26 June 2024 – 6.30pm

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 arrival of Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo in St Ives at the beginning of the Second World War marked a significant moment, both for them and for the artists already living and working in the small Cornish town. These three artists were key players in British modernism and soon challenged the status quo of the existing artists’ colony, established at the end of the 19th century. They inspired and, in Hepworth’s case employed, a younger generation of artists before they too were challenged by new ideas. This lecture will chart the rise of St Ives as a centre for modern art after the war and show that it was not only Nicholson, Hepworth and Gabo who achieved international success but other artists such as Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and Wilhemena Barns Graham. This success led to the town becoming a focal point for post-war avant garde art which led the eyes of the modern art world to focus, for a brief period, on St Ives.

Charlie Waite

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 31 July 2024 – broadcast live from the UK – 6.30pm

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.


Landscape photography is a way of life and is an essential method of expression for Waite. In discussing his work, Charlie refers to ‘pre-visualisation’ first used by the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams from which he draws much inspiration amongst others. “It is the creative act of the artist-photographer who, in visualising a poetic or revealing image within the scene in front of him, anticipates what the final print must convey to express what he sees and feels”. Charlie refers to Ansel Adams and other artists and photographers who have inspired him and shaped his work.

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

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 4 September 2024 – 6.30pm

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.


Anyone who visits Japan knows of the nation’s extraordinary appreciation for art: year in, year out, art exhibitions in Japan draw some of the world’s highest visitor numbers, with four temporary shows among the international Top 20 in 2018. From the 20th century, government funding for acquisitions has continued to drop – not a uniquely Japanese phenomenon! – so private collections and corporate art museums have become ever more important. From an extraordinary passion project at the Itchiku Kubota Kimono Museum, to the refined tastes of gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada and the innovation and renewal of Naoshima’s Benesse Art Site, this presentation explores different manifestations of private art patronage in contemporary Japan.

John Francis

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 9 October 2024 – 6.30pm

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.


Daphne Du Maurier and Alfred Hitchcock had much in common. Du Maurier is sometimes described as a romantic novelist but this is completely misleading. Like Hitchcock, she dealt with themes of loneliness, gender, fear, suspense and gothic imagery. In their work they built compelling and complex emotional landscapes for their characters. Although they never met, the pair produced three key cultural landmarks of the 20th century in Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and The Birds. In this lecture we will explore Hitchcock’s, ‘The Birds’ (1963). We will closely unpack some of the essential scenes in the film and look at the masterful techniques both on the page and on the screen.

Jill Trevelyan

Nelson Lecture Date : Wednesday 13 November 2024 – 6.30pm

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.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a collection of some 2800 taonga, displayed in New Zealand’s embassies around the world. Jill, who is kaitiaki for the collection, will discuss the role of art at the Ministry, and show images of recent building and refurbishment projects.

Contact NeDFAS


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

Membership enquiries :