The Arts Society Wellington

The Decorative and Fine Arts Society of Wellington Incorporated (WeDFAS) was the third Society to be established in New Zealand and had its first lecture in August 2006. In 2018 we changed our name to The Arts Society Wellington, in line with the re-branding of our parent body in the UK. We offer the opportunity to hear eight top quality, diverse and interesting lectures each year covering a wide range of decorative and fine arts subjects. Recently our members have enjoyed hearing about architecture, glass, painting, fashion, porcelain, artists, sculpture, art history, design, craft, archaeology, literature and ceramics. Our lecturers primarily come from the UK where they have undergone a stringent selection process to qualify as lecturers for The Arts Society (based in the UK). The Arts Society lecturers have a reputation as excellent speakers who deliver well-researched and illustrated talks. Our membership currently stands at 240. At a Special General Meeting on 30 July 2018 the Society adopted its new operating name and updated its Rules. The current Rules, which were further amended at the 2021 AGM to cover electronic meetings, can be read here. Each year the Society donates $3,000 – $4,000 to local charities and causes, particularly those with a youth focus.

Programme Details

The Arts Society Wellington hosts eight one-hour lectures per year. They take place on a Monday evening with a 6pm start, at the National Library Auditorium Taiwhanga Kauhau, Aitken Street, Thorndon, unless otherwise advised. We round off the evening with a glass of wine and sandwiches, providing members with an opportunity to meet the lecturer and each other.

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. Six of these will be with us in person and two will come via live broadcast from the UK. With the online lectures, there are opportunities to view additional topics from home, tuning in to the lectures hosted by the other Societies around the country.

We hope that things will run smoothly but will be ready to adapt our programme arrangements if necessary.


The Arts Society Wellington has a full membership and a waiting list. The waiting list operates in date order. Membership is not transferable. To express an interest to join, please download the TASW Membership Application Form 2024 and send it to the Membership Secretary at 19 Glenbervie Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington 6011 or to

To enquire about lectures or have your name added to the waiting list, please contact our Membership Secretary, Denise Almao, at  or 19 Glenbervie Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington 6011.

Annual membership is $150.00 or $300.00 for two persons living at the same address. The membership subscription covers the cost of venue and equipment, travel and accommodation and fees for lecturers and refreshments after the lectures. As an incorporated society and registered charity, we are a non-profit organisation and support the arts within our community.

Because seating in our lecture theatre is limited, members are required to advise our Membership Secretary in advance if they wish to bring a guest. We regret that guests are restricted to attending just two lectures a year. There is a charge of $25.00 per guest. Members of other NZ Societies or international members of The Arts Society are welcome to attend our lectures at a charge of $15.00 on prior notification to our Membership Secretary.

Wellington – 2024 Lecturer Biographies and Topics

John Walsh

Wellington Lecture Date : Tuesday 12 March 2024 – 6.00pm – Note Changed day

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 15 April 2024 – 6.00pm

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 20 May 2024 – Broadcast Live from the UK – 6.00pm 

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.


Despite the enormous political challenges that Vienna faced between 1780 and 1830 – the end the Holy Roman Empire, four battles against Napoleon, unprecedented inflation and state bankruptcy following the wars – the city thrived, culturally. In fact, it could be argued that Vienna never had a finer moment in terms of its artistic achievements. Much of the familiar, visionary building of the city was in place, outstanding writers, poets, architects and painters brimmed with original ideas, and above all, composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert had made Vienna the musical capital of the world. The lecture explores the history and the arts of Vienna in the late Classical and early Romantic eras.

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 24 June 2024 – 6.00pm

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 29 July 2024 – broadcast live from the UK – 6.00pm

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.


Landscape photography is a way of life and is an essential method of expression for Waite. In discussing his work, Charlie refers to ‘pre-visualisation’ first used by the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams from which he draws much inspiration amongst others. “It is the creative act of the artist-photographer who, in visualising a poetic or revealing image within the scene in front of him, anticipates what the final print must convey to express what he sees and feels”. Charlie refers to Ansel Adams and other artists and photographers who have inspired him and shaped his work.

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 2 September 2024 – 6.00pm

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.


Anyone who visits Japan knows of the nation’s extraordinary appreciation for art: year in, year out, art exhibitions in Japan draw some of the world’s highest visitor numbers, with four temporary shows among the international Top 20 in 2018. From the 20th century, government funding for acquisitions has continued to drop – not a uniquely Japanese phenomenon! – so private collections and corporate art museums have become ever more important. From an extraordinary passion project at the Itchiku Kubota Kimono Museum, to the refined tastes of gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada and the innovation and renewal of Naoshima’s Benesse Art Site, this presentation explores different manifestations of private art patronage in contemporary Japan..

John Francis

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 7 October 2024 – 6.00pm

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

Wellington Lecture Date : Monday 11 November 2024 – 6.00pm

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.


Whanganui artist Edith Collier (1885-1964) spent nine years in England from 1912-1921, painting some exceptional works, including a series of modernist portraits. Jill is currently co-editing a book on Collier which will be launched, with an exhibition, when the Sarjeant Gallery reopens after a major refurbishment project in mid-2024.

Supporting the Arts

The Arts Society Wellington is one of the sponsors of Artsplash, Wellington’s annual primary and intermediate school arts festival, a week-long festival that brings together thousands of primary and intermediate school children from throughout the region to celebrate and perform dance, drama, music, visual arts and wearable art in one of the city’s premium venues. We have also supported The New Zealand Portrait Gallery to enable it to bring students from lower decile schools in the Wellington region to view the Gallery’s exhibitions.

Contact The Arts Society Wellington


Chair  :  Robyn Vavasour /
Treasurer  :  Julian Proctor /
Membership Secretary  :  Denise Almao /
Committee  :  Jane Kirkcaldie, Belinda Langford, Richard Eats, Penney Moir, Lucia Tubbs, Jonothan Briscoe