Otago Decorative & Fine Arts Society (OtagoDFAS)

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.

Otago DFAS 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.

In 2021 we have made the decision not to attempt bringing any lecturers in from overseas. However, we are still offering a full programme of eight lectures, the four New Zealand-based lectures will be with us in person and the four UK-based Arts Society lecturers will deliver their lectures by live broadcast to our venues or to members at home if Covid-19 restrictions require this. We are optimistically anticipating an undisrupted year, but of course our arrangements may be subject to change if the need arises.

Membership

To apply for membership, please download the OtagoDFAS Membership Application Form 2022 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 2022 is $100 per person or $200 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. Membership is not transferable. For further information or to notify changes of contact details, please contact us via email at otagodfas@gmail.com

Otago – 2022 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Gregory O’Brien

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 9 March 2022

Poet, essayist, editor and artist Gregory O’Brien is a busy and energetic presence in both arts and literature within New Zealand. With one foot in the literary world and the other in the visual art realm, Gregory has been on the cultural scene for nearly three decades. Gregory trained as a journalist in Auckland and worked as a newspaper reporter in Northland before returning to study art history and English at Auckland University. Between 1997 and 2009 he was curator at the City Gallery, Wellington, and was awarded the Arts Foundation Laureate in 2012 and the MNZM in 2013. Greg has illustrated his own poetry books and has written three publications introducing art to young people. His artworks can be found on book covers worldwide and his poems and drawings were the basis for a winter fashion collection by Auckland designer Doris de Pont in 2006. He has produced books on artists including Ralph Hotere, Graham Percy and Pat Hanly and is currently working on a monograph of Don Binney.

FROM AN ISLAND IN THE ANTIPODES: RECENT ART OF AOTEAROA

Expanding on the artistic territories covered in his recent book Always song in the water (AUP 2019) and his forthcoming monograph on Don Binney, art writer/curator/poet Gregory O’Brien will explore aspects of the relationship between place, visual art and the written word in the recent art of Aotearoa/New Zealand  art. He will discuss the many ways that place–in particular the provincial landscape–has been a radicalising rather than a conservative force in this country’s imaginative life. Spanning the work of a number of artists O’Brien has written about in the past–among them Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Robin White, John Pule and Elizabeth Thomson–he will explore the imaginative possibilities of the landscape genre as well as signalling an evolving awareness of Oceanic realities that both challenges and enhances our understanding of these islands on which we live.

Caroline Shenton

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 6 April 2022 – Broadcast Live from the UK

Dr. Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it ‘microhistory at its absolute best’. Its acclaimed sequel, Mr Barry’s War, about the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine, and was described by Lucy Worsley as “a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful”. Caroline was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library in 2017, has appeared at the Cheltenham, Hay and Henley literary festivals and on BBC radio and TV. Caroline’s third book, National Treasures, will tell the extraordinary and sometimes hilarious stories behind the saving of London’s art and museum collections in World War Two.

PACKING UP THE NATION: SAVING LONDON’S MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR

This is the gripping and sometimes hilarious story of how a band of heroic curators and eccentric custodians saved Britain’s national heritage during our Darkest Hour. As Hitler’s forces gathered on the other side of the Channel to threaten these islands, men and women from London’s national museums, galleries and archives forged extraordinary plans to evacuate their collections to safety. Utilising country houses from Buckinghamshire to Cumbria, tube tunnels, Welsh mines and Wiltshire quarries, a dedicated team of unlikely heroes packed up their greatest treasures in a race against time during the sweltering summer of 1939, dispatching them throughout the country on a series of secret wartime adventures, retold in this talk.

Stephen Taylor

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 18 May 2022 – broadcast live from the UK

Stephen Taylor is an artist and art historian who studied John Constable as a post graduate at Essex and Yale, taught art at Felsted School and went on to became Head of Painting at The Open College of the Arts and course director for the Inchbald School of Design. In 2000, Stephen turned to landscape painting with early shows at King’s College Cambridge, Meisel’s New York and Vertigo in London. Now has pictures in private collections world-wide and his book Oak: One tree, three years, fifty paintings was featured in The GuardianThe New Statesman and on Oprah Winfrey’s website.

MAPS AND BRITISH PAINTING: THE GEOGRAPHY OF ART

British painting has used maps in so many ways that art can sometimes look like a branch of geography. In the eighteenth century, early tourists used published route maps with designated spots for painting a view. Some artists were map makers and surveyed for the Ordnace survey and the navy. Coleridge and Wordsworth mapped the lake district as hills, rivers and waterfalls so that poetry and painting became a kind of imaginitive map making. In this light, Constable’s work was his visual geography of the Stour valley. We track connections between maps and painting to the present day: through the work of John Everett Millais on The River Tay, Norman Ackroyd on the Scottish coast and Michael Andrews along the river Thames. In doing so we find that almost as much as the artist, the land makes the art.

Sally Butler

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 29 June 2022

Dr. Sally Butler is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Queensland, specialising in the areas of contemporary Australian art, contemporary Australian Indigenous art and cross-cultural critical theory. Sally is the author and curator of the 2007 publication and international touring exhibition titled Our Way, Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Lockhart River and is one of the editors of the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Art. She was editor of the book Fully Exploited Labour, Pat Hoffie, 2008 and author of a book chapter on the Arnhem Land artist John Mawurndjul. She is also a former Associate Editor of Australian Art Collector Magazine. Other curatorial projects include Sensing the Surface, the photographic art of Carl Warner, and the Queensland/New South Wales touring exhibition Capricornia, Between the Sublime and the Spectacular – an exhibition featuring the work of another Australian contemporary photographer, Shane Fitzgerald.

ABORIGINAL ART FROM ROCK ART TO TODAY

This lecture explains how the modern Aboriginal art movement developed since the 1970s and how it maintains its connection to visual traditions going back to rock art created many thousands of years ago. The lecture focuses on how cultural traditions are reinvented and reinvigorated through innovative art of today. Examples include Indigenous art from the Central Desert, North Queensland, the Kimberleys and Arnhem Land.

Andrew Hopkins

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 10 August 2022 – broadcast live from the UK

Andrew Hopkins is a previous Assistant Director of the British School at Rome from 1998 to 2002 and since 2004, Associate Professor at the University of L’Aquila. Part of his PhD (Courtauld Institute 1995) on Venetian architecture was awarded the Essay Medal of 1996 by the Society of Architectural Historians (GB). A Fellow at Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2003-2004, and in 2009 was the Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Amongst his many publications are, with Arnold Witte, Alois RieglThe Origins of Baroque Art in Rome (2010), and Baldassare Longhena and the Venetian Baroque (2012). 

GETTY: OIL MONEY AND ART COLLECTING

Paul Getty’s astonishing wealth came from oil and with it this tycoon of the West Coast acquired an astounding collection of antiquities which he displayed from the late 1950s in his Herculaneum inspired Getty Villa at Pacific Palisades. Opening just before the Millennium, Richard Meier’s Getty is known for being clad in specially cut blocks of Italian travertine and the Museum houses an extraordinary collection of art works from the Renaissance to the present day. This lecture explores the privileged but tormented lives of the Getty family and their museums and art works.

Barry Venning

Otago Lecture Date : Thursday 14 September 2022 

Barry Venning is an historian of British art with a particular interest in the work of JMW Turner, on whom he has published widely, including the volume on Turner in Phaidon’s Art & Ideas series, and several catalogue essays for exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland. He was the BBC’s script consultant on Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and has recently taken part (2013) in a BBC documentary called The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution.
Barry has also published a study of John Constable’s paintings. His interests and his teaching extend from medieval architecture to contemporary British art. He is currently Associate Lecturer with the Open University and lecturing on a freelance basis for The Arts Society, Christie’s Education and other organisations.

TRUE ORIGINALS: THE ART OF UNTRAINED, VISIONARY AND COMPULSIVE CREATORS

Outsider art is the name given to work produced by artists from all over the world who are untrained and outside the mainstream of twentieth and twenty-first century art. Their output ranges from tiny drawings a few centimetres wide to the world’s tallest wooden house. The artists include at least two postmen, a coal miner, psychics, unskilled labourers, several prisoners, psychiatric patients, a Russian ex-gangster and an Indian roads inspector. The one thing they have in common is a compulsion to make astounding art. Few of them are well known – but they all deserve to be.

John Stevens

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 19 October 2022 – BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE UK

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. 

IMPERIAL CALCUTTA: ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE

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. 

Mary Kisler

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 23 November 2022 

Mary Kisler is an author, art historian and Radio New Zealand art commentator, having recently retired as Senior Curator, Mackelvie Collection, International Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Mary earned her master’s degree in art history and Italian at the University of Auckland in 1994. She has been a curator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki since 1998, caring for a collection that spans from c.1150 to 1950, a large part of which is European art but which also includes a small collection of Indian miniatures and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. In 2010 Godwit published her book Angels & Aristocrats: Early European Art in New Zealand Public Galleries. In 2019 the Auckland Art Gallery published her Hodgkins catalogue raisonnée to accompany a major Hodgkins exhibition.

WISTFUL WOMEN, WINE AND WOMBATS – THE ART AND LIVES OF LONDON’S PRE-RAPHAELITE PAINTERS

This lecture examines the dialectic between Victorian morals and social constraints, not least for women, and how these ideas played out within the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the women they loved.

Contact Otago DFAS

Committee

Chairs   :  Jenny Ross
Secretary   :  Prue Harwood
Treasurer
   :  John Timmins
Committee   Nicola McClymont, Anna Mcreath Munro, Joanna Salmond-Chang, Cecylia Klobukowska

Email: otagodfas@gmail.com