Otago Decorative & Fine Arts Society (OtagoDFAS)

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

Established in 2016, Otago Decorative & Fine Arts Society (OtagoDFAS) promotes and advances the cultivation, appreciation and study of decorative and fine arts. The Otago Society provides its membership with eight very interesting and insightful lectures per year.  Lecturers undergo a stringent selection process to qualify as lecturers for The Arts Society (based in the UK), of which OtagoDFAS is a member society.  They have a reputation as being excellent international speakers who deliver well researched and illustrated talks.

OtagoDFAS Programme Details

Our venue is the Auditorium, 1st Floor, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Octagon, Dunedin. Lectures begin promptly at 7.30pm. Please be seated by 7.20pm. Light refreshments with a glass of wine are served after each lecture. Members and guests have the opportunity to talk with the lecturer, meet other members and chat with friends.


To apply for membership, please download the OtagoDFAS Membership Application Form, complete and send it with your payment according to the directions of the form. Membership is limited to 125. If numbers exceed 125, your name will be placed on our waiting list and you will be given the opportunity to become a member at the beginning of the next calendar year. The annual fee is $130 per person or $230 for two people living at the same address. This covers the cost of the venue and equipment, the lecturer fees plus their travel and accommodation, and refreshments after the lecture. As an incorporated charitable trust we are a non profit organisation. Guests are welcome to attend a maximum of two lectures a year. If you would like to attend as a guest please email prior to the lecture –  Membership Secretary, Jacqui Dickson at otagodfas@gmail.com. A $25 guest fee per lecture is payable on the night. The fee for visiting DFAS members is $15. We regret no guest may attend more than two lectures per year. Membership is not transferable. For further information or to notify changes of contact details, please contact our Membership Secretary, Jacquie Dickson, via email at otagodfas@gmail.com.

Otago Programme: Lecturer Biographies and Topics


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 4 March 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.


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 8 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.


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 20 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. 


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 24 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.


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 12 August July 2020 / Cancelled 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.


We have all heard about audacious art heists that are more like blockbuster movies than run-of-the-mill burglaries. In this lecture, we are going to look at famous art thefts, discuss what motivates art thieves as well as examine what aspects the thefts have in common. We will also look at where the burglars made mistakes, which enabled investigators to swoop in and recover stolen masterpieces. In many cases, the police sting operations were just as daring as the thefts.


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 16 September 2020 / RE-SCHEDULED TO 21 OCTOBER AND 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.


Did you know that when Charles Rennie Mackintosh died, his entire estate was valued at just £88? Glaswegian-born Mackintosh, a designer, architect and artist, was the foremost Celtic exponent of Art Nouveau, and had a considerable influence on European art. But he is an even more enigmatic figure today than when he was alive. Both Mackintosh’s, and his wife Margaret Macdonald’s work has a distinctive character, one that captures the transition between the Victorian era and the Modern age. This talk will consider both Charles and Margaret’s life, work and legacy.


Dunedin Lecture Date : Wednesday 21 October 2020 / RE-SCHEDULED TO 16 SEPTEMBER AND 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.


Sculpture has the power to stop us in our tracks. It can be awe inspiring, thought provoking or fun and amusing. Many sculptures are imbued with historical and cultural reference; statues, for example, telling us about remarkable men and woman of the past. Modern sculpture sees the world from different perspectives that may be perplexing or enlightening. The UK’s national collection of sculpture is arguably the finest in the world and is being catalogued in a unique project called Art UK (www.artuk.org). The lecture explores a range of these works and recounts some of the fascinating stories behind them.



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.

Contact OtagoDFAS


Chairs   :  Jenny Ross
Membership Secretary   :  Jacqui Dickson /  otagodfas@gmail.com
Committee    John Timmins, Anna McCreath Munro, Joanna Salmond-Chang, Nicola McClymont, Andrena Hall, Cecylia Klobukowska, Julie Butler