Waikato Decorative & Fine Arts Society (Waikato DFAS)

WaikatoDFAS meets at 7:30pm at The Centre for Performing Arts, Southwell School, Peachgrove Road, Hamilton. The evening starts with a one hour lecture followed by light refreshments with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

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.


New members: To join WaikatoDFAS, please download and complete the 2021 WaiDFAS New Members Form

Returning members: For members renewing for 2021 whose contact details have changed, please download and complete the 2021 WaiDFAS Returning Members Form. Returning members are encouraged to pay their subscriptions on-line – the Returning Members Form does not need to be completed unless your contact details have changed.

Please return all completed forms to the Membership Secretary, PO Box 851, Hamilton, 3240 or scan and send to dfaswaikato@gmail.com.

A half year membership is available for $70 for new members who join any time after June. This membership will cover the last four lectures for 2021. Please use the 2021 New Members Form on this page or contact our Membership Secretary, Jill Brown.


Guests are welcome to attend a maximum of two lectures a year. Please advise our Membership Secretary, Jill Brown, (021 273 2161) of their attendance prior to the lecture. A $20 per lecture guest fee is payable on the night. The fee for visiting DFAS members is $15.00.

For further information or to notify changes of contact details, please advise Jill Brown, Membership Secretary, Phone 021 273 2161 or email dfaswaikato@gmail.com.

Membership is non-transferable.

Waikato 2021 Programme: Lecturer Biographies and Topics


Neil Faulkner

Waikato Lecture Date : Rescheduled to Thursday 18 February 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Neil Faulkner was educated at King’s College Cambridge and Institute of Archaeology UCL. He works as a lecturer, writer, archaeologist and occasional broadcaster. Research Fellow, University of Bristol. Editor, Military History Monthly. Director, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project. Director, Great Arab Revolt Project. Author of The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain, Apocalypse, Hidden Treasure, Rome: Empire of the Eagles, and The Ancient Greek Olympics: a visitor’s guide. Author of forthcoming Lawrence of Arabia’s War. Major TV appearances include Channel 4’s Time Team, BBC2’s Timewatch, Channel Five’s Boudica Revealed and Sky Atlantic’s The British.


Cinematic images are modern art forms. In the ‘golden age’ of cinema – before the development of CGI technology – film-makers had to construct sets to represent landscapes, townscapes, and interiors. Sometimes they used paintings and photographs, sometimes they built scale models, sometimes they constructed full-size replicas. In each case, they created an art installation they then captured in celluloid images.
Drawing on new insights from the archaeology of cinema, this lecture will use the films of renowned British director David Lean to explore the art of cinema. How do the ‘artists’ – in this case formed of large collaborative teams (directors, screenwriters, production designers, costume designers, camera crews, fixers, etc.) – choose locations, construct sets, dress actors, and, more generally, ‘imagine’ the world they seek to represent? How much is authentic, and how much preconception and prejudice? What are the influences on the way the cinema depicts the world?

Benny Castles

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 18 March 2021

For 20 years Benny has been associated with WORLD, a fashion brand now in its 3rd decade as one of NZ’s most iconic and Avant-garde fashion houses and retail experiences. WORLD was the first fashion brand in NZ to be given a retrospective at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 2005. Benny started his career with WORLD in retail and is now a partner, designer and director of the company. Benny’s face may be familiar from his appearance as a judge on the recent TVNZ reality fashion show Project Runway.


Unlike the older nations of Europe, New Zealand has little or no history or culture in fine fragrance and scent. The talk will focus on fragrance etiquette and scent profiles, but most importantly brand and fragrance history. Many of the brands date back to the 1700’s and some earlier. They touch on historical figures like Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Grace Kelly, JFK and Winston Churchill, as well as moments in time and object history. Benny’s presentations have been extremely successful with both men and women and especially for those less interested or experienced in fragrance as they are a wonderful eye-opener into history, culture and the cult of fragrance that has become such a globalised and dominant industry. The talk promises to be educational and informative as well as being fun and thought-provoking.

Nigel Bates

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 6 May 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Nigel Bates was the Music Administrator of The Royal Ballet from 2012 to 2020 and has been a performer for nearly forty years in and out of London’s Royal Opera House, including seventeen years as Principal Percussionist with the Orchestra. He has worked with many of the leading figures in the classical music industry and was also a producer for both the BBC’s Maestro at the Opera and Pappano’s Classical Voices documentary series. He is a regular contributor to the printed and online content of the ROH. Nigel has given lectures for over twenty years, including arts societies and conservatoires in the UK and across Australia.


Tantrums & Tiaras is a look at backstage life at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the pressures faced by performers, be they singer, dancer, conductor or musician. We see how the building copes with the demands of modern productions and examine audience expectations both inside the theatre and out. We also look at some of the highs and try to understand some of the lows that have been the fortune of this world-class performing venue over the years. Fully illustrated including audio and video clips.

Dominic Riley

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 17 June 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder and teacher. He specializes in the restoration of antiquarian books and the creation of contemporary fine bindings. He teaches bookbinding both in the UK and USA, and his prize-winning bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library. He is a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and President of the Society of Bookbinders. In 2013 he won the prestigious Sir Paul Getty award in the International Bookbinding Competition, and his winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Contact dfaswaikato@gmail.com for Guest Registration


Why was the best paper made from the worn out clothes of peasants? Why did leather have to be tanned outside the city walls? Why is gold leaf so thin that it is measured in atoms and cannot be touched with the hands? Why do printers have to do everything upside down and backwards? Why did gold finishers get paid more than other bookbinders despite not washing their hair? And why is the art of bookbinding itself, surely the most complex of all hand crafts, as beguiling and enchanting today as it was when it was invented on the banks of the Nile 2,000 years ago. This lecture is a ‘Through the Round Window’ for grown-ups, and tells the fascinating story of everything that makes a traditional hand bound book.

Pete Bossley

Waikato Lecture Date : Rescheduled to Thursday 29 July 2021

BArch (Hons), NZCD (Arch), Registered Architect (NZ), Fellow NZIA, RAIA, NZIA Gold Medal 2012, Alliance Partner Group GSA, Chair NZIA Auckland 2006-2008
Pete Bossley has an extensive reputation in architecture and interior design, with particular experience in galleries, museums and residential. He is known for several memorable buildings such as the Museum of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa, the Sir Peter Blake extension to the National Maritime Museum in Auckland, many iconic houses throughout the country, apartment buildings and social housing projects. He has exhibited and lectured extensively on his work here and overseas. He has also taught architectural design for over 25 years and was adjunct professor of Architecture at Unitec Architecture and Landscape School.  In 2012 Pete was awarded the NZIA Gold Medal, the highest honour in New Zealand Architecture.


Pete will discuss the importance of ideas to underline good architecture, identifying themes which have run through 40 years of architecture, using projects from his practice as examples. Themes which have been developed over the years and in numerous projects include…
-Fault lines: architectural responses to the perils of living in a faulted land. This is not in terms of seismic engineering, but more of the narrative arising from our fragile geological situation, and how this awareness has generated ideas which have driven the design of architectural projects.
-Encampments: a series of projects which respond to the New Zealand landform by referencing the traditional courtyard house, modified to accept the power of our landscape, incorporating it in to the design of the houses rather than precluding it. Camp formations ranging from Roman military bases to kiwi campsites suggest the value of creating a large whole from a series of smaller pods. Other themes will include the importance of our skyscapes, natural light, balance and imbalance. Contact dfaswaikato@gmail.com for Guest Registration

Nicholas Merchant

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 2 September 2021 – broadcast live from the UK

Nicholas Merchant’s career has mirrored his abiding interest in antiques. He has worked for some of the major auction houses in London as well as running his own book business devoted to the decorative and fine arts. His particular interest is English 18th century furniture and country houses; he enjoys discussing objects, particularly in their historical context. He lectures extensively in the USA, South Africa, Europe and UK, including the V&A, as well as for the principal cruise lines. He is the Art Fund’s West Yorkshire Representative. He arranges specialist short breaks for collectors and a range of prestigious clients including groups of The Arts Society who enjoy visiting the treasures of the UK.


As rich and splendid as are the jewels of Europe, they almost pale into insignificance when considered against those of the Indian sub-continent. The jewels of India are of barbaric magnificence and worn by both sexes in staggering profusion. Indian royalty passing through the midst of their teeming subjects would only have been seen as a glittering coruscation of jewels, setting themselves apart, semi-divine, as, indeed, they believed themselves to be. But it is not just the jewels themselves which set Indian jewels apart from their European counterparts. For millennia, Indian jewels were set and treated in a way far removed from the work of jewellers in London, Paris and Rome. The settings are entirely distinctive. That was until the 19th century when the great jeweller Jacques Cartier arrived in India. An astute businessman, he sought not only to buy jewels in India, but came to show them that by cutting and setting their jewels in European fashion their inherited magnificence would be even more ravishing. He transformed Indian rulers, and he transformed Indian jewellery-making. All part of the glamorous and spell-binding story of Indian jewels.

Michelle Brown

waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 7 October 2021 – BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE UK

Michelle Brown, FSA, is Professor Emerita at SAS, University of London and a Visiting Professor at University College London. She was formerly the Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. She is a leading expert on Late Antique, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon culture and on manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells. She has published, lectured (including in Australia) and broadcast widely. Her many publications include: Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking Visual Culture.

Note: This lecturer replaces Gregory O’Brien, who is rescheduled to February 2022


The Luttrell Psalter offers a fascinating insight into life in England in the turbulent 14th century. Made in Norwich and Lincs for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, Lord of the Manor of Irnham (Lincs.) in the 1330s, its margins contain a riot of imaginative images peopled not only by saints and grotesques, but by the family and the ordinary folk who worked their land. Their successes and scandals are explored in coded images. For this was an age when kings were deposed by their adulterous queens, heiresses eloped with clerks and the property-merger marriages of barons risked incest. The Black Death was about to decimate Europe, the Scots and French were hostile, and the peasants were getting restless, stalking the margins of society and of the pages. Meanwhile, a hard-hitting Dominican friar sought to get Sir Geoffrey and his people to heaven and painted his spiritual teachings for them, illuminating the age-old cry ‘de profundis’ of the Psalms.

Mary Kisler

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 11 November 2021

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.


Whereas in 17th century Dutch still life painting, every piece of fruit or tableware was redolent with symbolic meaning, modern French artists preferred to paint their families, lovers, and friends, either enjoying a meal, or savouring a glance of wine in one of Paris’s new and exciting Café-concerts. This lecture explores the central role such images play within the development of European Modernism.

Contact Waikato DFAS


Chair  :  Lyn Jones [lynmarkjones@gmail.com]

Treasurer  :   Julie Sergel

Membership Secretary  :  Jill Brown  [dfaswaikato@gmail.com]

Programme Secretary :  Susan Law

Committee  : Sue Primrose, Brett Douglas