The Arts Society Wellington

Formerly the Decorative & Fine Arts Society of Wellington Incorporated (WeDFAS), we have recently 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.

The Arts Society Wellington had its first lecture in August 2006 and was the third Society to be established in New Zealand. Our membership has grown to 236 since then.

At a Special General Meeting on 30 July 2018 the Society adopted its new operating name and updated its Rules.  The current Rules can be read here.

The Arts Society 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 in Aitken Street, Thorndon, Wellington, 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 Half Study Days, when offered, consist of two 60 minute lectures and include a break for refreshments. Their subject matter differs from the programmed evening lecture and they are a more in-depth and interactive event. There is a fee of $35 for all members and guests attending.


The Arts Society Wellington has a full membership and a waiting list. The waiting list operates in date order. Membership is not transferable. Waiting list members are invited to attend our Study Days.

To express an interest to join, please download the 2019 Membership Application Form and send it to the Membership Secretary at PO Box 19030, Marion Square, Wellington, 6141 or to

To enquire about lectures or have your name added to the waiting list please contact our Membership Secretary, Denise Almao, or PO Box 19030, Marion Square, Wellington, 6141.

Annual membership is $130.00 or $230.00 for two 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 charitable trust 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 any one guest is restricted to attending just two lectures per year.

There is a charge of $20.00 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 notification to our Membership Secretary.

2019 Lectures

Please click on the button to the right for biographies of lecturers and topic synopses.

Steven Desmond

The Odd Couple: Lutyens & Jekyll in the Garden

Monday 25 February 2019

Dr James Grant

Medical Gold – From Ancient Egypt to the Nobel Prize

Monday 1 April 2019

Ian Swankie

Pots & Frocks – The World of Grayson Perry

Monday 13 May 2019

Hilary Williams

A Feast for the Eyes – The Frick Collection, New York

Monday 17 June 2019

Toby Faber

Faber & Faber – 90 Years of Excellence in Cover Design

Monday 5 August 2019

Dr Mark Spencer

The International Legacy of Banks & Solander

Monday 9 September 2019

Ghislaine Howard

The Cuisine of Art and the Art of Cuisine

Monday 14 October 2019

Dr Susan Whitfield

Dunhuang & the Silk Road: Imperial Archaeology to Digital Revolution

Monday 25 November 2019

Supporting the Arts

The Arts Society Wellington is one of the sponsors of Artsplash, the annual Wellington Regional Young People’s Arts Festival, a week-long festival that brings together thousands of primary and intermediate school children from throughout Wellington 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 Friends of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery to enable them to bring students from lower decile schools in the Wellington region to view the Gallery’s exhibitions.

In 2011 we contributed to a fund for restoration work in Christchurch after the earthquakes.

Contact The Arts Society Wellington


Chair  :  Robyn Vavasour /
Vice Chair  :  Karin Beatson /
Membership Secretary  :  Denise Almao /
Committee  :  Jane Kirkcaldie, Peter Bull, Richard Eats, Belinda Langford, Kerry MacDonald, Jules Proctor, Lucia Tubbs