ADFAS Shoalhaven

Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society Shoalhaven Inc.

About ADFAS Shoalhaven
NADFAS Twin - Blockley

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

A big welcome to our exciting society - ADFAS Shoalhaven.

We meet in the wonderful township of Berry and our Focus Days are held at the Nowra Players Theatre. ADFAS is a great place to meet new friends with a shared interest in the Arts.

In 2016 ADFAS Shoalhaven will provide a program of nine lectures.  One in-depth Full Focus Day and one half Focus Day will also be held where topics can be examined in more detail (there is an additional charge for these). New members are always welcome and may join at any time during the year.  No prior knowledge is needed - just an interest in learning more about the arts.


Committee 2016

Jim Birkett
(02) 44235588

Vice Chairman
Fran Smith
(02) 44487016

Membership Enquiries
Margaret Stephens
(02) 44643394

Postal Address:
PO Box 269
Berry NSW 2535

Venue and Time of Lectures

Unless indicated elsewhere, lectures are held on Thursday evenings at the Uniting Church Hall, Albert Street, Berry, NSW and start at 7.30 pm; a light supper is served at the conclusion of the lecture.

Programme for 2016

18 February - Dr Michael Turner

50 Objects 50 Stories: extraordinary curiosities in the Nicholson Museum

The Nicholson Museum is home to the largest collection of Antiquities in the Southern hemisphere. It includes objects of worldwide significance and renown. It is also home to some most interesting stories, involving collectors, curators, archaeologists, authors, and its fair share of scoundrels. There’s the Assyrian ivory relief cleaned on site by Agatha Christie using her own face cream; the Cypriot sculpture looted (along with 35,572 other Cypriot artefacts) by the American ambassador to Cyprus in the 1870s; a gold torc found in a peat bog in Ireland that was sold at auction to Randolph Hearst and yet somehow found its way into the Nicholson Museum; and a fragment of Homer’s Iliad on papyrus acquired for the museum in 1938 by its then curator, one later notorious Enoch Powell. This talk looks at these and several other extraordinary stories.


10 March – Lars Tharp (Antiques Road Show fame)

Of Meissen Men, the birth of European porcelain

The extraordinary adventure of how Meissen – Europe’s first manufactory of ‘true’ porcelain – came into existence; the design precursors of its first wares, its inspired inventions and continued history right into the 20th century; its influence on later factories throughout the world, from the 18th century to the present.


21 April – Julie Ewington

Fiona Hall and the 2015 Venice Biennale Australian Pavilion

Fiona Hall’s remarkable photographs, sculptures, installations and paintings have taken her to the forefront of the field in Australia, and for many years she has also been regularly exhibiting internationally, in the UK, Europe and New Zealand. This illustrated lecture will be based on Julie’s long and deep knowledge of Hall’s work. In May 2015, Julie will travel to Italy to view the Venice Biennale, and will review the issues, arguments, successes and failure of this great recurring exhibition. She will consider Hall’s presentation and reception in this important international context, as well as reviewing how other leading artists are critically received.

It will be the first presentation in the new official Australian pavilion, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, the distinguished Melbourne architectural firm. Having just returned from Venice Julie will explore ad discuss this new gallery.


19 May – David Rosier

The Ultimate Renaissance Ruler – Emperor Qianlong (1735 – 1796)

The Emperor Qianlong was arguably the greatest of all Qing Emperors and guided China through a period of unquestionable political, economic and cultural growth and prosperity.

The lecture explores Qianlong’s role as a successful military leader and as a tireless instigator and supporter of cultural projects seeking to preserve his Manchu culture whilst retaining and blending with the Confucian based system of government that had flourished in China for over 1500 years. A specific aspect considered will be his project to update and revise Regulated Court Costume and Dress Accessories.

Consideration will be given to Qianlong’s exceptional achievements in the fields of the sciences and arts, which are seen as representing his greatest contribution to China’s heritage.

Qianlong was an exceptional scholar with a prodigious output of poetry, essays and calligraphy throughout his reign but it was perhaps as a collector, curator and appraiser of Fine Art and Antiques that Emperor Qianlong created his most durable legacy.


20 May – David Rosier

Half Focus Day – Dressing to Impress: Formal, Semi Formal and Informal Costume of the Court and High Society in China 17th to 20th Century

The session will consider:

Regulated court costume for the Imperial Family and the Ranks of Civil and Military Officials.

Informal costume of the Imperial Court and members of Chinese Society with a focus on the robes for the ladies of the Court

Dress Accessories with a focus on collars, sleeve bands, jewellery and shoes, including Bound Feet Shoes.


23 June – Michael Scott-Mitchell

Play Time: Contemporary Theatre Design

Michael Scott-Mitchell is one of Australia’s leading set designers, working across theatre, opera and large-scale arena events. He most recently designed John Bell’s Tosca for Opera Australia showing an incredible eye for detail with the recreation of the magnificent interior of Sant’Andrea della Valle. Michael’s the new production of Carmen will open in Sydney this year. He also designed the sets for the critically acclaimed production of The Elixir of Love and its glorious salute to Australiana, complete with horses, sheep, cows and dogs made from corrugated iron. Michael is currently the Head of Design at NIDA.


21 July – Martin Elis

Art, Power & Money: the Life and World of Matthew Boulton

The talk celebrates the achievement of Matthew Boulton, one of the most extraordinary figures of the 18th century. An entrepreneur and industrialist of brilliance, a visionary who changed the nature of manufacturing, Boulton stands at the very centre of the industrial and intellectual revolution, which laid the foundations of the modern world. His business partnerships saw both the development of the steam engine with James Watt, and the creation of exquisite silver and ormolu with John Fothergill. He built the Soho Manufactory, the most advanced and productive factory in the world, and established the world’s first mechanised mint.


25 August – Leslie Primo

Gender and the Body: Kept behind Curtains, the Story of the Nude

The nude is still seen in our modern age, and indeed has been seen for quite some time as the pinnacle of creative artistic perfection, but throughout the course of art history the notion of the perfect body and consequently gender has been constantly reshaped and redefined.

This lecture will look at the continuing fascination with representation of the body in sculpture and in painting across the ages, with sculpture from the 4th century BC, painting from the Renaissance, and through to the modern age with paintings from the Impressionists.  This span of time will encompass iconic works within this lecture by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Bernini, Degas, Renoir and Velazquez, to name but a few.

Moreover this lecture will look at the reasons that lay behind the commissioning of such images.  What were their purposes, who were the patrons behind these images, and what, if any, hidden riddles; signs and symbols are hidden within these seemingly enigmatic and flawless images of perfection.

As this lecture charts the ever changing attitude towards the nude as a subject we will look at the treatment of nudes by collectors and museums in the 19th century, as we set the scene and chart the many and varied approaches to this subject that has become synonymous with the very idea of art itself; indeed finally asking ourselves, ‘if this is art’, how did it become so and why? 


26 August – Leslie Primo

Full Focus Day – Design, Invention, and Creation: the Multiple Lives of Leonardo da Vinci

Speculations regarding the true life and meanings of Leonardo’s works have been rife for centuries; culminating in recent times with books such as the Da Vinci Code, which only serve to confirm this continued interest while shedding no light on the man himself or his works.  Indeed what do we really know about this enigmatic Renaissance icon? 

This study day aims to provide the participant with an insight into the life of the great Renaissance masters and ultimately an understanding of his works through the historical and social context within which this artist worked.  This will be achieved by looking at his early career and influences including his training and working methods, and the stylistic similarities or differences in his works.  Emphasis will also be put on his reasons for the choices he made in mediums, such as chalk, charcoal, silverpoint and painting methods.

Part one: Here we will begin by focusing on Leonardo’s early life and tutelage in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio.  We will also look at the methods taught in the Verrocchio workshop and how Leonardo might have employed these in his own and subsequent work.  This will lead us neatly on to examining his earliest commissions and how these might have shaped his future work. 

Part two: In this section of the study day will look at Leonardo’s patrons and his fascination with the Madonna and Child grouping and portraits.  This subject would be constant throughout Leonardo’s life, something he returns to time and time again up to the end of his long life.   And finally part two will also look at Leonard’s association with particular noble families, the interaction between these families and the female portraiture that was produced as a result of the associations with these families.

Part three: And finally part three will look at Leonardo’s life of invention and fascination by all living things including the mechanics generally and the mechanics of flight.  Part three will also look at his major projects and how these coincided with Leonardo’s peripatetic existence, which finally brought his life to an end in France.


22 September – Monica Bohm-Duchen

Marc Chagall: Wandering Jew or Citizen of the World?

As his work makes abundantly clear, Marc Chagall (1887-1985) remained deeply loyal to his humble Russian-Jewish origins. Yet he also wished his art to have a universal appeal – which, judging by its popularity, it undoubtedly achieved. This lecture will trace his long, chequered and colourful career, giving particular emphasis to the creative tensions produced by the very different cultural and artistic environments in which he found himself: starting with his hometown of Vitebsk (up to 1906), then St.Petersburg (1906-10), Paris (1910-14), Revolutionary Russia (1914-22), Berlin (1922-3), Paris (again, 1923-40), America during World War Two, and back to France in 1948.


20 October – Mary Alexander

Riviera Paradise: The Fusion of At, Design and Pleasure on the Cote d’Azur in the 1920s and 30s

Since the C19 English high society had regularly 'wintered over' on the Côte d'Azur, promenading by the sea and leaving by April. In the early 1920's, however, an intoxicating mix of artists, writers, musicians and international visitors, inspired by a mythological seascape of luminous colours, create a new summer season. Suntans and sportswear soon became 'de rigueur' in the chic new coastal resorts, villas and hotels. In the words of Matisse writing in 1918 ... "It seems like a paradise which one does not have the right to analyse".

In this experimental Riviera playground of ideas, a vibrant synergy pulsated across the visual design arts.

Traditional boundaries were torn down. Matisse, Picasso, Dufy, Cocteau, and Chanel merged the worlds of fashion, theatre and interiors. The impresarios Serge Diaghilev and Paul Poiret generate an exciting fusion in the creative arts. Cole Porter, Scott Fitzgerald, and the intriguing Gerald and Sara Murphy who become lifestyle icons, introduce an American perspective and attract an influential new set of discerning patrons and Collectors.


17 November

AGM and Party- Berry Court House


The annual subscription fee is $130 per person, which includes the ADFAS Bulletin.

There is a $10 badge fee for new members.

Full Focus Days are $60 members and $70 non-members, with morning tea and lunch.

Half Focus Days are $30 members and $35 non-members including morning tea and 2 lectures.


Visitors are most welcome, $25 fee applies.

Members unable to attend a lecture may transfer use of their badge to a non- member (visitor fee of $10).  This is subject to presentation of the membership badge on the night.

The fee for members of other ADFAS Societies is $10.

Membership between Societies is not transferrable.

 Download our Guide on "How to use ADFAS-Shoalhaven's Library Catalogue"