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.  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.

We are anticipating a return to normal programming for the 2023 season following two and a half years of unpredictable disruption to the events sector. We are pleased to offer six in person lectures, with two online lectures delivered in our gallery venue. 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 2023 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 2023 is $130 per person or $240 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 – 2023 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Geoffrey Edwards

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 8 March 2023 – 7.30pm

Geoffrey Edwards was Director of the Geelong Art Gallery, one of Australia’s oldest and largest regional galleries.   Prior to this appointment, he held Senior Curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Victoria where he was in charge of the collections of International and Australian sculpture and Melbourne’s celebrated holdings of ancient, antique and modern glass. His professional affiliations, here and abroad, are extensive and include, amongst others, the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, Visions Australia, the International Councils of Museums [ICOM], Craft Australia, Museums Australia [Victoria], the Winston Churchill Trust [he is a former Churchill Fellow], the George Baldessin Trust and the National Trust of Australia [Victoria]. He is the author of various monographs, numerous exhibition catalogues and contributes to journals in Australia, Japan, Britain and the US.


The toppling and vandalizing of prominent statues around the world has been an all-too-frequent news item in recent times. Citing the alleged moral failure or criminal culpability of the toppled subjects, the wrath of outraged crowds has focused on grand sculptural representations of kings, presidents, dictators and celebrated historical identities including Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook, assorted Confederate generals and Cecil Rhodes. But this is hardly a modern-day phenomenon. The Problematic Statue takes a look at the surprisingly long tradition of trashing public art in the interests of re-writing history.

Marc Allum

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 5 April 2023 – 7.30pm

Marc Allum is a freelance art and antiques journalist, writer and broadcaster based in Wiltshire. He is shortly to begin his 23rd year as a specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and has appeared on numerous television and radio programmes. Marc regularly writes for mainstream magazines and is an author, antiques consultant and lecturer. He also runs a fine art valuation and consultancy service. Marc has his own unique style with interests ranging from pre-history to modern design and is a self-confessed collectaholic. He has a passion and reputation for divining the unusual through ‘a desire to connect with history through the interpretation and pursuit of objects and their origins’. Marc has lectured widely for many years to a number of different organisations in both the public and charity sector, including travel companies, The National Trust, The WI and many literary festivals including Cheltenham, Bath, Wells and Petworth. Marc is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.


An interesting lecture chronicling the four-year archaeological excavation of Marc’s own back garden and how the discovery – in the heart of Chippenham – of a Roman farmstead and a stunning Samian ware bowl under his house, rewrote the history of the town and made the national news!

Karin Fernald

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 17 May 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

Karin is known for her entertaining lectures on writers and diarists connected with the arts from the mid-18th to 19th century and moving forward in time with Virginia Woolf. Extensive research into diaries and letters bring lectures to vivid life. Karin illustrates them with slides of contemporary pictures and portraits from varied sources.



Taught from childhood by artists including Edward Lear, throughout her life Queen Victoria painted and sketched. There are delightful watercolours and sketches of the people around her, together with revealing self-portraits. Others, drawn from her remarkable memory, are of performances witnessed from the Royal Box at Drury Lane. She loved the ballet, then in its full romantic flowering; worshipping Marie Taglioni, first ballerina to dance on points. In opera, she admired the beautiful soprano Giulia Grisi and took singing lessons herself with the great operatic bass Luigi Lablache. In youth an excellent dancer, aged 72 the Queen was seen to perform “light, airy steps in the old courtly fashion, no limp or stick, every step carefully and prettily danced.” With slides from the Royal Collection at Windsor of Victoria’s watercolours and sketches, together with paintings, portraits and cartoons of the early 19th century.

Note: With her online lecture circuit, Karin will be delivering eight 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.

Leslie Primo

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 28 June 2023 – 7.30pm

Leslie Primo holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, gave lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery for 18 years. Currently he lectures at the City Literary Institute, Imperial College, London, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute.


This lecture will attempt to revive the reputation and celebrate a great artist that, although born in Switzerland, went on to become a great British Neo-Classical artist, with a reputation equal to her male contemporaries in an age that rarely recognised women in this field.
This lecture will not only look at her training and early paintings, but also the influence on Kauffman of Italian painting and the great Renaissance masters, not to mention Dutch painting.  The lecture will also chart Kauffman’s rise to fame on the Continent, along with her association with the most famous figures of the age including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 –1832) and Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) to name but a few.
The lecture will also look at Kauffmann’s controversial private life, her arrival in England and subsequent success in a relatively short period of time, and what happened to Kauffmann after leaving England.
Thorough the use of existing documentary evidence gained from the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive the lecture will not only chart the rise of Kauffman, but also look at how her work was received by the critics of her day and beyond.

Andrew Prince

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 9 August 2023 – broadcast live from the UK – 7.30pm

Andrew grew up with a passion for jewellery and was always determined that he would forge a career in jewellery design. At sixteen he started work in London’s Bond Street with the Antiques Roadshow expert Ian Harris. From there he worked with renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage, working in design and production. Andrew has a love of fine ’costume jewellery’ and antique pieces, realising the beauty of elegant design and fine craftsmanship. Andrew’s work started to become well-known and private commissions came from celebrities including Shirley Bassey and the late Michael Jackson. In 2002 the V&A commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the ‘Tiaras, Past & Present’ exhibition – and this exposure led to Andrew’s jewellery appearing in films. In 2005 he made pieces for ‘Mrs Henderson Presents’ starring Judy Dench: in 2009 for ‘The Young Victoria’ starring Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson; in 2012 for the third series of Downton Abbey for characters played by Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery.


Andrew was inspired to produce this talk after visiting the National Portrait Gallery. Seeing all the Tudor, Stuart and Hanoverian monarchs, dressed in their finery, he wondered where had all their spectacular jewels gone? Among the many jewels he traces, Andrew follows ropes of glowing pearls that belonged to Catherine de Medici, Mary Queen of Scotts, Elizabeth the First, Queen Victoria and now Queen Elizabeth II.
He also follows a spectacular and historic diamond that belonged to King James the first of England, King Charles the First and was later sold, worn by Marie Antoinette, stolen during the French Revolution, purchased by a Russian Aristocrat and later mounted in a tiara by Cartier for and American Heiress, who then became a British Member of Parliament! Jewel hunting has never been more fascinating.

Note: With his online lecture circuit, Andrew 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.

Paul Roberts

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 13 September 2023 – 7.30pm

Dr Paul Roberts is Head of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford University.  Paul has been a lecturer with The Arts Society for two decades, has travelled extensively to societies across the country, and has also lectured on numerous cruises. He studied Classics at the University of Cambridge, and Classical Archaeology at Sheffield and Oxford.  He then lived in Italy for several years, teaching, researching (and eating!). He has travelled the Roman Empire from Britain to Syria and has excavated in Britain, Greece, Libya, Turkey and in particular Italy. He is currently excavating a Roman Villa in the Molise region of Central Italy. His research focuses on the daily life of ordinary people in the Greek and Roman worlds, and he has written books and articles on Greek and Roman daily life, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Sicily, Roman Emperors, mummy portraits, and Greek and Roman ceramics and glass. He is now writing a walking guide to ancient Rome.   From 1994 to 2015 he was Senior Roman Curator in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum, where he curated the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (2013). At the Ashmolean from 2015, he co-curated Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Sicily and the Sea (2016) telling the history of Sicily through shipwreck finds. Most recently (2019/20) at the Ashmolean he curated Last Supper in Pompeii, a tribute to the Roman love affair with food and wine.


In this talk we look at one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world, the fabled city of Palmyra, in the Syrian desert. Palmyra arose on a trade route that brought silk, spices and other luxuries across the desert from the east. Her wealth and power are displayed in gorgeous monuments, while her people, wealthy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan, are preserved in their hauntingly beautiful stone funeral portraits.
Palmyra became so powerful during the Roman empire that the warrior queen Zenobia challenged Rome itself. We’ll see Palmyra’s meteoric rise and its dramatic fall, its rediscovery by English lords and its desecration by Isis. But there is hope that beautiful Palmyra will rise again…

Jane Malthus

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 18 October 2023 – 7.30pm

Dr Jane Malthus is a former Clothing and Textile Sciences and Design academic, and a dress historian and curator. Historical, social and cultural intersections and implications of dress and textiles worn and used by nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealanders are at the heart of her research practice.  She has published papers and chapters on topics including settler dress, dress reform, fur, lace, exhibition design, and co-curation, and is Honorary Curator of the Dress Collection at Otago Museum. A member of the Eden Hore Collection steering group and one of its patrons, she has been involved with that collection since the 1980s. She is currently a member of the Board of iD Dunedin Fashion.


The Eden Hore Collection comprises 200+ New Zealand extravagant designer dresses from the 1970s, now owned by the Central Otago District Council (CODC). Collected by a sheep and cattle farmer living near Naseby from the designers or retail stores, it has attracted many visitors to ‘Glenshee’ over the years. From the “why?” question to the “what next?” question, Jane will explain the collection and how they hope to show it in the future.

Gillian Hovell

Otago Lecture Date : Wednesday 22 November 2023 – 7.30pm

Gillian Hovell gained a BA (Hons) in Latin and Ancient History, Exeter University, and then branched out into archaeology. She is an ex-BBC, lecturer for the British Museum and York University, and an award-winning writer and author who specialises in relating the ancient world to our modern lives, in person, in the field, on line and in the media (most recently on Radio 4). Publications include Visiting the Past: A guide to finding and understanding Britain’s Archaeology and Roman Britain. Forthcoming are Latin Yesterday, Today and For Ever, and A Mediterranean Tour: Not just a Load of Old Stones. Gillian teaches adult education courses in Latin, archaeology and ancient history and has publicly lectured widely and passionately, on cruises and tours and for museums such as the British Museum & Ashmolean, national press, universities, literary festivals, and diverse societies including Classical Associations, the U3A and the National Trust.


Early Christians celebrated Christmas at the same time as the ancient Romans were feasting and partying for their pagan Saturnalia festival.  That annual midwinter party had astonishing tales of myths and legends behind it.    Meanwhile, many of the pagan habits were absorbed into our Christmas traditions.   Present-giving, holly and even party-hats all have their origins in this 2,000-year-old party.      This talk will revel in artwork that is ancient and modern as we un-wrap the images and stories behind our festive season.

Contact Otago DFAS


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

Email: otagodfas@gmail.com