Select Society

Postal Address:

ADFAS Canberra
PO Box 8
Deakin West, ACT 2600


ABN:    65 303 903 455

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 when topics can be examined in more detail.

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


Postal Address:
ADFAS Canberra
PO Box 8
Deakin West, ACT 2600

Lola Wilkins
Ph: 0405 132 146

Vice Chairman
Patrick Batho
Ph: 0404 002 090

Marcel Dimo
Ph: 0451 681 473

Terry O’Brien  

Ph: 0427 799 544

Membership Secretary

Sally Petherbridge

Ph: 0420 536 409 – please leave a message.

Programme for 2019

For venues see below under “Venues and Times of Lectures”

Monday 25 February (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

Fakes and Forgeries

Hilary KAY

Hilary Kay’s lecture will allow us to be a witness to the devious world of the master forger including objects that fooled the experts, from a Botticelli to a bottle of gin.

Hilary Kay is a pre-eminent British antiques expert, lecturer, broadcaster and author, best known for her many appearances on BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow program which she joined in 1978.

In addition to working as an expert on Antiques Roadshow Hilary has taken part in numerous television programs including presenting a landmark series for BBC One called Brilliantly British which explored the lives of Thomas Chippendale, Josiah Wedgwood and William Morris.

Currently she presents and curates the online art appreciation course – The Art Institute.

Monday 18 March (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

The Art of Hugh Ramsay

*Dr. Deborah HART

Hugh Ramsay was an extraordinarily talented artist whose brilliant career was cut short when he died at the early age of 28. After his studies, as a young artist in Paris, Ramsay had the rare honour of having four works accepted into the Paris Salon. Often referred to as ‘an artist’s artist’, Hugh Ramsay’s greatest strengths were undoubtedly his paintings and drawings of the human figure. Among the standout works are his much-admired self-portraits and his portraits of his sisters that   reveal his close bonds with his family.

Dr Deborah Hart is Head of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Australia where since 2000 she has also been Senior Curator of Australian Paintings and Sculpture post-1920. She is currently working with the curatorial team on a rehang of the Australian Art collection and is also curating the major exhibition that is the subject of this talk – The Art of Hugh Ramsay. The exhibition The Art of Hugh Ramsay will include loans from collections around the country and will bring the work of one of Australia’s most talented artists to the fore. Dr. Hart will give us a preview of this important exhibition and the artist whose work it will display.

Monday 20 May (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

Nelson’s Mistress and Artists’ Muse – The life, times, and reputation of Lady Emma Hamilton

Martin HEARD

Emma Hamilton is best remembered as the lover of Admiral Lord Nelson. However, in her time she was a European celebrity: The daughter of a blacksmith, Emma became the companion and later wife of Sir William Hamilton, classical scholar and British ambassador to the Kingdom of Sicily in Naples.  She carried out an unofficial but crucially important diplomatic role for both Queen Carolina and the British government, a clandestine activity that enabled Nelson to defeat the French at the battle of the Nile. None of these actions was officially recognised, and were deliberately ignored by the Establishment after Nelson’s death. In 1815 she died in obscurity, avoiding her creditors, an exile in Calais.

Martin Heard studied History of Art at Manchester University and then worked in a fine art publishing company. Having ‘retired’ from a career in information technology, he now researches English 18th century art and architecture and late 19th century French art and architecture.

Tuesday 21 May Special Interest Morning (Commonwealth Club, Yarralumla ACT)

George IV – Connoisseur or Conman?

Martin HEARD

George IV, better known as the Prince Regent, gives his name to an elegant style of architecture and design and a period of British history noted for its extravagance, political upheaval and moral decadence. He was arguably London’s best town-planner, his projects including Regent’s Park, Regent’s Street, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.  George lV‘s legacy is the Royal Collection and the architectural grandeur of those cities that have whole areas in the Regency style. However, he amassed fantastic levels of debt, for which, time and again, Parliament bailed him out. He claimed funds for supposedly legitimate purposes but spent it on wasteful extravagances such as the Brighton Pavilion. Arguably the rebuilding, decoration and final demolition of Carlton House in London was his most outrageous misuse of public funds.

Monday 17 June (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

Making it Up As He Went: 60 Years of Collecting with Sir Rex Nan Kivell (1898 – 1977)


Rex Nan Kivell, the New Zealand-born collector extraordinaire, acquired on average, two items a day for 60 years. In six decades of collecting he gathered together maps, prints, drawings, oil paintings, ethnographic and decorative art objects, rare books, manuscripts, ephemera and photographs. Nan Kivell had the presence of mind and the deep pockets necessary to acquire items which reinforce one another in developing narratives, whether they be of exploration or settlement, of missionary zeal or conflict with original inhabitants or simply documenting those that came before us and left their marks for us to interpret today.

His remarkable collection has been a cornerstone in the National Library’s ability to illustrate, in exhibition and publication, stories from our part of the world. Without doubt had his collection not been acquired by the Library in 1959, and supplemented with gifts until his death, the National Library would not be able to flesh out the displays in the Treasures Gallery and in exhibitions such as Mapping our World and Cook and the Pacific. This lecture will examine Nan Kivell’s surprising life and his obsessive collecting through which he reinvented himself in one of the great rags to riches tales of the 20th century.

Nat Williams is the National Library’s first James and Bettison Treasures Curator. He delights in discovering, researching and telling the many stories behind the collections. Prior to this he was the Library’s Director of Exhibitions and most recently a co-curator for the Mapping our World exhibition.

Monday 15 July (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

The History Of The Royal Academy Of Arts, London

Rosalind WHYTE

In 2018 The Royal Academy of Arts celebrated its 250th anniversary, so it is an opportune time to explore its history and the role it has played in the development of British art.  The lecture will look at the position of artists in London before and after the formation of the Academy in 1768 and some of the characters involved, from the first President, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and other establishment figures, to artists who have taken a more oppositional stance, whether individually, such as Reynolds’ great contemporary and rival Gainsborough, or as a group, such as the (initially) clandestine Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of young rebel artists who sought to subvert the Academy from within. 

 Like any important institution, the Academy has been embroiled in intrigue and controversy over the course of its history and no scandal or outrage will remain unexposed as the lecture traces the history of one of Britain’s most important cultural bodies from inception to the present day.

Rosalind Whyte has a Master’s degree from Birkbeck College, University of London as well as a Master’s degree in Art History from Goldsmiths’ College, University of London.  She is a guide and lecturer at Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy and lectures frequently at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Rosalind is an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society and lectures extensively for them and other societies in Britain, Europe and South Africa.

Monday 19 August (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

Persephone’s Isle: The Heritage of Sicily


Sicily, at the heart of the Mediterranean and its largest island, has long been a crossroads between Europe and Africa, between East and West, a strategic prize coveted by many a foreign conqueror.  Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards have all ruled over the island and contributed to its rich and diverse cultural heritage. As a result, Sicily’s historic cities, its medieval hill towns, its lovely mountains and valleys boast a wealth of splendid monuments.  

A fusion of Arab, Byzantine and Romanesque styles, Norman culture epitomizes Sicily’s capacity to absorb and adapt the traditions of her conquerors and so produce some of the finest art in the Mediterranean world.

Archaeologist, interpreter and lecturer, Sue Rollin studied at London University (Institute of Archaeology) and at Heidelberg University and her linguistic repertoire includes three ancient Near-Eastern languages and several modern European ones. She has taught at Cambridge University and interpreted for the EU and UN. With Jane Streetly she has written two books, Blue Guide: Jordan as well as Istanbul: A Traveller’’ Guide.

Tuesday 20 August Special Interest Morning (Commonwealth Club, Yarralumla ACT)

From Samarkand to the Taj Mahal: Central Asia and the Great Mughals


Around the turn of the 15th century Tamerlane, the last of the great nomad conquerors, swept across Asia in an orgy of destruction. Tamerlane was ruthless and brutal; he was also intelligent and cultured and used the vast resources of his far-flung empire to endow his capital Samarkand and other cities of his native land with splendid monuments.  What Tamerlane began, his successors continued – art, architecture, science and literature flourished and Central Asia under the Timurids experienced a Golden Age.

By 1500 however the last of the Timurids, Prince Babur, Tamerlane’s great-great grandson, had been driven out of Samarkand by a new wave of conquerors, the Uzbeks. Nevertheless Babur was destined to become a figure of consequence in world history, for moving southwards, he first became monarch of Kabul and then in 1526 he invaded India.  There he founded what was to become the great Mughal Empire whose last reigning sovereign Bahadur Shah II, the 23rd of his line, was exiled from Delhi after the Indian Mutiny in 1858.

For our special interest day we look first at Tamerlane and his legacy, especially the beautiful city of Samarkand, queen of the Great Silk Road.  We then follow Prince Babur through Afghanistan to India where we focus on the magnificent royal courts of the first six emperors of the Mughal dynasty, often known as ‘the Great Mughals’ whose rule had a lasting impact on India and whose creative building reached its apogee in that most ethereal of monuments, the Taj Mahal.

Monday 16 September (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

The Mystery of Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’


Hans Holbein was the first great European painter to spend much time in England and he brought with him a sophistication and skill with far reaching consequences for England’s artistic development.

His ‘Ambassadors’ is recognised by the National Gallery of London as one of its greatest treasures. It dates from a tradition in the arts when no object was without meaning and symbolism.  However, practically all of this meaning has been lost to the modern observer. The lecture considers the tempestuous circumstances of its creation and the hidden messages concealed within.

Anthony Russell is a cultural historian, writer and artist. He has travelled much of the world combining painting with tour lecturing – principally to American university students on bespoke tours and to The Arts Society (formally NADFAS).

He spent six years as a consultant for Luke Hughes advising on the furniture needs of prestigious buildings throughout Britain, including museums, palaces, schools and cathedrals.

Now based in London, he spends much of his time lecturing and undertaking research. At the British Museum, where he runs outreach events and hosts visiting lecturers, he has been described as “Hugh Grant meets the Dalai Lama.”

Monday 14 October (National Library of Australia, Canberra)

The Follies of the Irish: Mad Buildings for Mad People


Castle Ward is a great country house literally divided in two: one half all sedate and Classical, the other all fun and Gothic, accurately reflecting the characters of the couple who built it – such is the type of house one finds in Ireland!  

From the seventeenth century onwards the Irish found ample opportunity to build castles, houses, gate lodges, garden buildings and elaborate gateways that defied both normal taste and budgetary restraint. This entertaining lecture traces such structures with ample quotations from contemporary diaries and letters bringing alive the oddities of Ireland in times past.

Dr. Tom Duncan was educated at Trinity College, Dublin where he studied History of Art and Ancient History & Classical Archaeology. He then studied for his Masters in the United States and moved to England in 1984 to complete his doctorate.  For many years he has lectured widely to heritage and arts organisations both nationally and internationally.

Monday 25 November (Commonwealth Club, Yarralumla ACT)

The Annual General Meeting and Christmas Party


*Australian lecturer. We are very pleased to include excellent Australian lecturers; join us to hear these speakers who are at the forefront of their respective subjects


Lectures will be held at the National Library of Australia.

Lectures start at 6.00 pm. They last an hour and refreshments are served afterwards. Free parking is available in the National Library carpark after 5.30pm.

The cost of attending 8 lectures is included in the membership subscription and admission is by name badge.

In addition to the 8 lectures, there are two Special Interest Mornings (SIMS) on Tuesday 21 May and Tuesday 20 August held at The Commonwealth Club, Yarralumla at 10 am.  Each of these sessions runs for about two and a half hours with a break for morning tea midway.  Attendance costs are $50 per member and $55 per guest. Those attending need to register in advance by completing the SIM form.


The annual subscription in 2019 is $210 per person ($420.00 double). The subscription covers attendance and catering at all lectures (eight in 2019). Special Interest Mornings (SIMS) (two in 2019) and other events attract a separate charge announced at the time of the event. Admission is by name badge.


Guests and visitors are most welcome, at a charge of $30 per lecture, but need to register beforehand with our Membership Secretary at

ALL MEMBERSHIP ENQUIRIES to the membership Secretary Sally Petherbridge at or on 0420 536 409 (m) – please leave a message.

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