Otago Decorative & Fine Arts Society (Otago DFAS)

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.  TAS lecturers have a reputation as being excellent international speakers who deliver well researched and illustrated talks.

Otago DFAS Programme Details

Our venue is the Auditorium, 1st Floor, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Octagon, Dunedin. Lectures begin promptly at 7.30pm.  Members and guests have the opportunity to talk with the lecturer, meet other members and chat with friends over a glass of wine and light refreshments following the talk.

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, all delivered in our gallery venue. Six of these will be with us in person and two will come via live broadcast from the UK. Online lectures will be held in the winter months and members will also have access to all online events on offer from our sister societies across the country.

Our arrangements may be subject to change if the need arises.


To apply for membership, please download the OtagoDFAS Membership Application Form 2024 then 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 for 2024 is $140 per person or $260 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 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, and membership is not transferable.

For further information or to notify changes of contact details, please contact us via email at otagodfas@gmail.com

Otago – 2024 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

John Walsh

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 20 March 2024 – 7.30pm

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

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 24 April 2024 – 7.30pm

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 line with the retrospective of the leading Russian woman-artist, Natalia Goncharova, which will be held at the Tate Modern in summer 2019, this lecture/study day will be dedicated to the amazons of the Russian avant-garde, whose art challenged traditional aesthetic values and redefined the boundaries between art and life. Working almost entirely within the male exhibition-and-sales paradigm, these women considered themselves artists first and became zealous participants in a great aesthetic revolution. Revolutionary in their art and politics, they had seized the freedom of the first decades of the 20th century to pave a remarkable path from primitivism to cubism and from representation to abstraction.

Peter Medhurst

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 29 May 2024 – Broadcast Live from the UK – 7.30pm

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.


The reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England are jointly regarded as one of the great moments in English music, when composers such as William Byrd, Thomas Morley, Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tomkins – to name but a few – produced works of extraordinary originality and depth. The lecture focuses on the musical history of the period, as well as on the various forms that were used at the time – lute songs, madrigals, keyboard music and church music. The lecture is illustrated throughout with musical examples performed by Peter Medhurst.

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

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 3 July 2024 – 7.30pm

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.


Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge has been described as “one of the country’s most intimate and spellbinding museums, the collection of one man and his unerring eye; restorative, homely yet life-changing”. This man was H.S. ‘Jim’ Ede, curator, writer, collector and friend to artists. In1957, he opened his Cambridge home to university students as “a living place where works of art could be enjoyed… unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.” His collection included works by Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska which were carefully placed alongside pieces of furniture, ceramics and natural objects. His curated home remains, by and large as he left it, characterised by its unique atmosphere, fascinating juxtapositions and personal connections. This lecture will discuss the life of Jim Ede, his collecting, his vision for Kettles Yard and its enduring legacy.

Charlie Waite

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 7 August 2024 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

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.


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

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 11 September 2024 – 7.30pm

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.


When Hugo van der Goes’ Adoration of the Shepherds, a triptych in oil commissioned in Bruges by banker Tommaso Portinari, arrived in Florence in 1483, local artists such as Domenico Ghirlandaio flocked to see it. But northern art had made an impact on the Italians since the first decades of the 15th century, from Burgundian manuscripts to works by Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. And the robust trade route between the Low Countries and Italy ensured an exchange of luxury objects as well as ideas, so that by the time Rubens came to Italy in 1600 to study and work he was following a well-travelled path. This talk traces the influence of artists from the Low Countries on Italian painters such as Colantonio and his pupil Antonello da Messina in Naples, Piero della Francesca in Urbino, and Botticelli and Ghirlandaio in Florence, arguing that Italian painting after the Renaissance could not have looked the same without it.

John Francis

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 16 October 2024 – 7.30pm

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.


The relationship of Art to Advertising has an early start. Sir John Everett Millais’s painting of ‘Bubbles’(1885) was sold for £2,200 to help sell bars of soap. In this lecture we will trace how the advertising industry became so successful and in particular why advertising in the UK is often thought of as Art. From posters to the fifteen second television adverts, we explore some of the most successful adverts and unpack the psychological and cultural context behind them. Award winning adverts by Guinness, Silk Cut and Nestle will be subject to a detailed analysis.

Jill Trevelyan

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 20 November 2024 – 7.30pm

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 Otago DFAS


Chairs   :  Jenny Ross
Secretary   :  Prue Harwood
   :  John Timmins
Committee   : Nicola McClymont, Anna McCreath Munro,
                         Maggie Hanton

Email: otagodfas@gmail.com