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.

We are still challenged by the ongoing Covid-19 situation, however in 2021 we were able to deliver a full programme of eight lectures to members, either gathered at the venue or online at home.

For the first half of 2022 we do not expect to be bringing any lecturers into New Zealand from overseas although remain optimistic that this may change by the end of the year. However, we are still offering a full programme of eight lectures, and hope that we will be able to gather for them all at our venue. There will continue to be a mix of accredited The Arts Society lecturers from the UK (delivered by live broadcast) and a couple of New Zealand and Australian based lecturers – ideally with us in person. We hope that things will run smoothly but will be ready to adapt our programme arrangements if necessary. We will continue to deliver lectures directly to members at home if gathering restrictions require it.

Our 2022 brochure and programme can be downloaded here: Waikato Brochure 2022


New members: To join WaikatoDFAS, please download and complete the 2022 WaiDFAS New Members Form

Returning members: For members renewing for 2022 whose contact details have changed, please download and complete the
2022 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 scan or photograph the completed form and return to the Membership Secretary –  dfaswaikato@gmail.com.

Our annual subscription is $120 per person. 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 2022. Please use the 2022 New Members Form on this page or contact the Membership Secretary.

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.


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.


Waikato 2022 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

Ian Swankie

WAIKATO Lecture Date : Thursday 24 February 2022 – Broadcast live from the UK

direct to members at home – 7.30pm

A Londoner with a passion for art and architecture, Ian is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and gives tours around each venue. He is also a qualified and active freelance London guide and leads regular tours for various corporations and organisations. Since 2012 he has led a popular weekly independent art lecture group in his home-town of Richmond in West London. He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, one of the City livery companies.


Just north of Piccadilly, in the city of Westminster, is the historic district of Mayfair, now one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the world. In this armchair tour, we’ll discover the humble early roots of this area and later its aristocratic appeal. We’ll visit famous gardens such as Berkeley Square and Grosvenor Square, see posh shops, private members’ clubs, stately Georgian townhouses, and many hidden corners. As we duck in and out of alleyways and mews, we’ll discover some of the secrets behind the silk curtains and gilded shutters.

Caroline Shenton

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 24 March 2022 – broadcast live from the UK

direct to members at home – 7.30pm

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.


In the early evening of 16 October 1834, to the horror of bystanders, a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament, creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen by the King and Queen at Windsor and from stagecoaches on top of the South Downs. In front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses, the great conflagration destroyed Parliament’s glorious old buildings and their contents. No one who witnessed the disaster would ever forget it.  Based on the acclaimed book of the same name, this talk takes the audience through the gripping hour-by-hour story of the fire with a particular focus on the oils and watercolours produced by Turner

Stephen Taylor

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 5 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.


Movable canvas pictures for interiors – quadrati riportati – were introduced by Titian’s generation. These paintings were not ‘hung’ in the modern sense but incorporated into architectural schemes. What we now call picture hanging evolved slowly over time. The talk traces hanging fashions across three hundred years, from formal Palladianism and early private art galleries to a variety of more informal arrangements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We end with practical tips for today’s homes – without needing to re-arrange the furniture!  Artists, designers and houses: Tintoretto and The Scuola di Sn Rocco; Daniel Marot at Het Loo; Arthur Devis and Palladian interiors in the conversation piece; Galleries at Stourhead and Corsham Court; picture hanging in Dickens’ novels and some of the speaker’s own work hung in private collections.

Gregory O’Brien

Waikato Lecture Date :  Thursday 16 June 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.

Note: this lecture was originally scheduled for February.


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.

Andrew Hopkins

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 28 July 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). 


Much richer than the Guggenheims, the Rockefellers – even today the richest and most powerful family in the USA – not only amassed one of the greatest art collections of the 20th Century, including superb impressionists, but also donated their nine-storey New York townhouse on Fifth Avenue to found the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA. An incredibly private family, mostly the family avoided scandal, but some time back I worked for a year in one of Harvard University’s research institutes, whose director had been married to a Rockefeller, so I learnt some of their secret and shameful stories.

Barry Venning

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 1 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.


Modern art is often considered difficult, but it is much less so when seen through the eyes of some of the greatest cartoonists of the last one hundred and fifty years, who provide a funny and sceptical but instructive guide to modern art from Courbet in the later C19 to contemporary British art. A chance to enjoy the insights and cartoons of (among others) Daumier, Fougasse Larry, Thelwell, Matt, Giles and the wise guys at the New Yorker magazine. Collectively, they provide an absorbing, illuminating and (above all) hilarious sidelong view of 150 years of modern art.

John Stevens

Waikato Lecture Date : Thursday 6 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. 


Before the British arrived in India, the Indian subcontinent was ruled by the Mughal Emperors. The stunning buildings and gardens they constructed from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century have left an indelible stamp on India’s architectural and cultural landscape. Mughal architecture fused elements from Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural traditions, and gave rise to some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in the world. From the Jama Masjid in Delhi, to the Taj Mahal in Agra, to the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, this lecture will take you on a tour of some of India’s greatest buildings, and provide insight into the historical contexts and colourful personalities involved in their construction.

Mary Kisler

WAIKATO Lecture Date : Thursday 10 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.


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]  P:  021 061 0716

Treasurer  :   Julie Sergel

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

Programme Secretary :  Susan Law

Committee  : Sue Primrose, Brett Douglas