ADFAS Canberra welcomes you.

ADFAS Canberra offers a yearly program of one hour illustrated lectures by overseas and Australian lecturers, chosen for their communication skills and expert knowledge. Occasional half-day sessions (Special Interest Mornings) are also held where topics can be examined in more detail.

Regular newsletters provide information on lectures, speakers and other activities.


Lectures are held at the National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra.
Free parking is available in the National Library carpark after 5.30pm.

In 2023 lectures will be held on a Tuesday evening.
Lectures start at 6.00 pm. They last an hour and refreshments are served afterwards.

Find full details of the 2023 program here

Annual Membership Single – $225
Annual Membership Double / Couple – $445
The annual membership covers attendance and catering at all lectures.  Admission is by name badge.
Click here to join or email:

Please note:    Special Interest Mornings and other events attract a separate charge.

Guests welcome:
Guests and visitors are most welcome, at a charge of $35 per lecture.
We ask guests to please register beforehand with our Membership Secretary at

For all enquiries please email:
Postal Address: PO Box 8 Deakin West ACT 2600
ABN: 65 303 903 455

Committee 2023
Acting Chair: Alex Hagan
Vice Chair: Sue Healy
Secretary: Janet Lynch
Public Officer: David Campbell
Treasurer / Membership Secretary: Myra Croke   Ph: 0419 433 170


Tuesday 14 March 2023
Breaking the Ice: Jackson Pollock and American Abstract Impressionism
Presented by Anna Moszynska
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

What caused American painting to take off as it did in the mid-20th century?  The painter Willem de Kooning attributed its initial success to the work of his friend Jackson Pollock whom he credited with ‘breaking the ice’.  This talk looks at the career of the famous action painter and assesses how his contribution to painting (including his infamous drip technique) contributed to Abstract Expressionism becoming an artistic phenomenon worldwide.  Pollock’s path left a particularly significant legacy in terms of future developments.

Anna is a London-based lecturer and writer who oversaw the development of the first Master’s Degree in contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute in the 1990s.  She taught at institutions including The City Lit, Royal Academy and Tate London, has lectured in cities ranging from Dubai to New York, currently teaches in London and Paris and runs her own courses.  Anna’s books include Abstract Art (1990, 2020) and Sculpture Now (2013).  She enjoys introducing art to audiences in a lively and approachable way to make modern and contemporary art both accessible and interesting.

Tuesday 18 April 2023
Ancient Pella in Jordan: An Archaeological Journey
Presented by Dr Peta Seaton AM
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

Dr Seaton will speak about the ancient site of Pella, where the University of Sydney has been excavating for 40-plus years, giving us a glimpse of life on a dig, its volunteers and Jordanian colleagues.

Peta will take us on a journey from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic prehistoric cultures and the earliest agriculture, the first walled cities of the Early Bronze Age from around 3600 BCE, rich foreign relations and political interactions with Egypt and Syria until 1100 BCE, the Greek Hellenistic influences on the Levant under Alexander the Great, the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine era and the advent of Islam.

Peta has an Honours degree and PhD in Middle Eastern archaeology from Sydney University. She has been involved in the Pella Archaeological Project in Jordan since 1979, is President of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation and an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney. Peta worked with NSW Premier, was a member of the NSW Parliament from 1996 to 2007 and is an occasional guest lecturer and media commentator on policy issues. Peta is a Director of the NDIS, on the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Board.

Tuesday 16 May 2023
Golden Vienna
Presented by Ian Gledhill
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

The Strauss family may have dominated musical life in 19th century Vienna, but other composers also wrote some beautiful waltzes and operettas.  We look at the golden age of Viennese music, featuring the works of Josef Lanner, Karl Millocker, Carl Michael Ziehrer and others.

Ian Gledhill has had a very varied career, from designing underground railways as an engineer for London Transport, to appearing in pantomime with Julian Clary.  In between he has worked in travel and tourism, music publishing, television, and especially the theatre, where he has been an actor, director, set designer, stage manager and opera translator.  His main interests include architecture, history, transport and classical music, especially opera and operetta, and these are reflected in the wide-ranging list of subjects for his lectures.  He began giving lectures in 1997, and now gives on average around 75 a year.

Tuesday 20 June 2023
The Printed Map as an Art Form
Presented by Dr Robert Clancy
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

This talk is about the transition of the printed map, from a highly decorative production with little accuracy, to a more austere document of great accuracy.  It is illustrated, reflecting the milestones of history, and using “keystone” maps of interest and beauty: from the great Incunables of the 15th century, the travelogues of the mid-16th Century, the magnificent Dutch atlases of the 17th century, to the school atlas of mid-1850, and the specialist thematic and topographic maps thereafter.

Robert is a medical graduate and physician, with a PhD in auto immune disease and Foundation Professor of Pathology at the innovative medical school in Newcastle.  As a clinical immunologist he researched mucosal immunity and oral vaccines to manage chronic airways disease.

He collected maps of Terra Australis for 40 years, with special interest in Australia and Antarctica.  He sees maps as a way of illustrating and understanding the past, has written four books on historic cartography and lectures and writes widely on a variety of cartographic topics. Robert was awarded an AM for contributions to historic cartography and immunology and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW (FRSN).

Tuesday 18 July 2023
The Age of Jazz
Presented by Sandy Burnett
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

Jazz is one of the twentieth century’s most important musical genres: a fascinating blend of rigorous structure, free-wheeling creativity, close-knit ensemble work and improvisation.  This lecture covers the early years of jazz from its very beginnings through to the start of the Second World War.  Drawing on his practical experience both as musicologist and gigging musician, Sandy is able to shed light on jazz from the inside.  His illustrations range from early pre-impressions by Maurice Ravel and others and the very earliest jazz recordings through to classics by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the dawn of the Swing Era.

Sandy is one of the UK’s most versatile music commentators.  After studying at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and working as music director for the RSC, National Theatre and in London’s West End, Sandy Burnett spent a decade presenting on BBC Radio 3.  He devises and leads cultural holidays worldwide, wrote the Idler Guide to Classical Music, runs an online classical music appreciation Listening Club, is a highly sought after double bassist on the London jazz scene, and was appointed the Academy of Ancient Music’s Hogwood Fellow for 2018-19.

Wednesday 19 July 2023
Special Interest Morning
Presented by Sandy Burnett
Venue and Time: 25 Forster Crescent, Yarralumla at 10 am.


Ludwig Van Beethoven: Classical Music’s Greatest Revolutionary

Born in Bonn in December 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven became one of the greatest and most disruptive figures in the history of classical music.  This talk presents an overview of this brilliant, cantankerous, visionary and astonishingly original composer, someone who tore up the rule book of classical music.  Visual illustrations include a selection of contemporary portraits, while musical examples are drawn from his genre-busting piano sonatas, quartets and symphonies, and from the revolutionary opera Fidelio.  It reveals how Beethoven became a true Romantic artist, or as he preferred to describe himself, a “poet in sound.”


From Preludes to Passions: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Music and its Timeless Appeal

More than any other composer, Johann Sebastian Bach’s music has transcended the passage of time.  Sandy examines the enduring appeal of this astonishing composer’s work, traces the evolution of his life and career from his early days at Eisenach and Arnstadt through spells at Weimar, Cöthen and finally Leipzig, and looks at the shifting perception of Bach’s music over the years since his death in 1750.  Illustrations include a selection of musical highlights great and small, ranging from tiny keyboard preludes through to some of the earth-shattering moments from the mighty John and Matthew Passions.

The Special Interest Morning will run for approximately two and a half hours with a break for morning tea midway. Attendance costs are $60 for members and $65 for non-members.


Tuesday 22 August 2023
The Story of the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
Presented by Mark Cottle
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

In the early seventh century a great ship was dragged ashore from the River Deben in Suffolk.  It became the burial place of a powerful Anglo-Saxon warlord, buried with a mound of treasures from all over the known world.  Fine weaponry, gold coins and exquisitely crafted jewellery revealed levels of sophistication which were a revelation.  The aim of the lecture is to examine the finds in turn, partly to appreciate them in their own right and partly to explore what insights they offer and what questions they pose about their world.

Born on the Isles of Scilly and educated at Truro School, Cornwall, and Birmingham University, Mark’s career has been spent in education and training at home and abroad.  He has lectured at Exeter College on Medieval and Tudor history, St Mark’s & St John’s University College, Plymouth, and at Bath University on Anglo Saxon and medieval England.  Currently Mark runs two small companies providing training and study breaks.

Tuesday 19 September 2023
Dressed to Thrill: The Art of the Japanese Kimono
Presented by Marie Conte-Helm
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

The kimono, literally meaning ‘wear’ (ki) and ‘thing’ (mono), is a traditional garment worn by both men and women in Japan.  But it is so much more.  Rich in symbolism and encapsulating the best in textile design and techniques through the ages, the kimono has a fascinating history that reflects wider aspects of Japanese life and culture.  From everyday kimono to wedding kimono to the elaborate dress of Japanese geisha, this lecture will trace the story of the kimono, its past and its present, and the place that it occupies in the world of contemporary fashion.

Professor Conte-Helm has a BA in History of Art, an MA in Asian Art and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  She served as Executive Director of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, Visiting Professor at Northumbria University, a Member of the Board of Governors of the University for the Creative Arts, Director General of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation from 1999-2011 and held senior academic at various UK universities.  She is a Resident Historian with Viking Cruises, lecturing on many aspects of Asian Art and East-West Encounters.  She was awarded an OBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to UK-Japan educational and cultural relations, and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Government of Japan in 2019.

Tuesday 17 October 2023
Palmyra: Bride of the Desert
Presented by Dr Paul Roberts
Venue & Time: National Library of Australia, 6pm.

Come and look at one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world the fabled city of Palmyra, in the Syrian desert.  Palmyra arose on a trade route that brought silk, spices and other luxuries across the desert from the east.  Her wealth and power are shown in splendid monuments, while her people, wealthy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan, are preserved in hauntingly beautiful stone funeral portraits.

Palmyra became so powerful during the Roman empire that the warrior queen Zenobia challenged Rome itself.  We’ll see Palmyra’s meteoric rise and its dramatic fall, its rediscovery by English lords and its desecration by Isis.

Dr Paul Roberts is Head of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford University.  He studied Classics at the University of Cambridge, and Classical Archaeology at Sheffield and Oxford and has travelled the Roman Empire from Britain to Syria and has excavated in Britain, Greece, Libya, Turkey and Italy.

From 1994 to 2015 he was Senior Roman Curator in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum, curating Ancient Faces (1997), Gladiators and Caesars (2000) and  Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (2013).  At the Ashmolean from 2015, he co‑curated Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Sicily and the Sea (2016) and curated Last Supper in Pompeii (2019/20).

Wednesday 18 October 2023
Special Interest Morning
Presented by Dr Paul Roberts
Venue and Time: 25 Forster Crescent, Yarralumla at 10 am.

Hadrian: Man of Mystery

Hadrian is a Roman emperor we think we know.  We know he built Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain and imagine him as a man of peace, either travelling continuously through the empire or living a life of luxury in his villa at Tivoli, outside Rome.

But in reality, he was a person of huge contrasts.  Adopted by the previous Emperor, Trajan, because of his skills as a shrewd politician and ruthless general, Hadrian, as his enemies discovered, was as capable of massacre as mercy.  He was an obsessive in everything he did, from amateur architecture to love.  Though married to his wife Sabina for 40 years, Hadrian’s greatest love was a young man Antinous, whom Hadrian made a god after his suspicious death.

Today we find out more about Hadrian, this incredible, mysterious man.


Athens and Rome: A Tale of Two Cities

Two of the most beautiful, powerful and important cities of the ancient world which each stood at the centre of its world: Athens the home of democracy, the cradle of the arts, Rome the eternal city, the capital of the world.

This talk explores the art and architecture of these extraordinary cities at the height of their power.  We wonder at their monuments, from Parthenon to Pantheon, from stadium to circus and from theatre to amphitheatre.  We admire the products of their craftsmen, from the bronze and marble masterpieces of the Greeks to the fine paintings and mosaics of the Romans, and from the red figure vases of Athens to the silver cups and cameo glass of Rome.

We also look at the people who helped make these cities great.  From slaves, who were the engine of both societies, to statesmen and thinkers such as Socrates, Pericles, Augustus and Hadrian, and writers such as Euripides and Vergil.  Two cities, so similar yet so different, but which have shaped our modern lives more than any others.

The Special Interest Morning will run for approximately two and a half hours with a break for morning tea midway. Attendance costs are $60 for members and $65 for non-members.

Monday 4th December 2023
AGM and Christmas Party
Venue and Time: 25 Forster Crescent, Yarralumla at 5.45pm

Details will be available in November 2023.


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