Brisbane River

Select Society

Postal Address:

ADFAS Brisbane River
PO Box 1904
Carindale QLD 4152

ADFAS Brisbane River provides a yearly programme of eight illustrated lectures given by six overseas and two Australian lecturers all chosen for their communication skills and expert knowledge in their fields.  Additionally three Interest Events are held where topics are examined in more detail.

The annual membership fee provides access to the eight lectures, which are followed by friendly conversation and refreshments, and to the special Christmas Morning Tea following the Annual General Meeting.  Our Interest Events are limited in attendee numbers and have a modest separate charge of $60 each which covers the lectures and refreshments.


Anyone with an interest in the arts or who wishes to develop an interest in the arts is very welcome to join.  No prior knowledge is needed and the lectures are very accessible.   Our friendly members all have one thing in common – an interest in learning more about the arts.

Please contact the Chairman or Treasurer for all enquiries.


Committee 2017

Terry Cronin
Ph: (07) 3870 8799

Chris Rylands
Ph: (07) 3398 4827

RSVP for Guest Attendance and AGM:
Maria Hansen
Ph: (07) 3374 3530

Programme for 2017

Friday 10 March
Anthony Russell  BA

Possibly the most admired historic English building outside London, Blenheim Palace is an uncompromising World Heritage monument to English military ambition and one family’s self-importance.  The story of its construction is a fascinating catalogue of excess and outrage, while the result is both monstrous and utterly sublime.  However, it is in the effect that its perceived spirit has had on consecutive generations of Marlborough’s that is most revealing.  It is also of course, from within this ‘cauldron’ that Winston Churchill, who was recently voted the “the greatest Britain of all time”, was born.  This lecture explores these themes and the characters involved, marvelling at the genius of Vanbrugh and considering the real impact the palace has left on the English nation.

Anthony Russell is a cultural historian, writer and artist who has travelled much of the world combining painting with tour lecturing – principally to American university students on bespoke tours and 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, while assisting at the British Museum with outreach events and visiting lecturers.  An advocate of nonviolence he is the founder of the Chandos, is on the committee for Uniting for Peace and a contributor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma.

Friday 21 April
Michael MARENDY  MSc PhD

During the latter part of the nineteenth century retailing underwent enormous change.  Small over crowded drapery stores were transformed into multi-storey department stores.  In addition to dressmaking, millinery and tailoring services, many of these stores established specialised departments which stocked corsets, dress fabrics, gloves, hosiery, lace, mantles, shoes, and underclothing, thus providing the total look for women, a service an individual dressmaker could not provide.  Most drapery stores in Brisbane were owned and operated by men, who would have had access to bank loans, or were able to enter into lucrative partnerships which enabled them to rent, buy or build large premises, stock a variety of goods, employ a large number of shop assistants and skilled modistes, as well as advertise on a daily basis.  The lecture will discuss the growth of the Brisbane department store and the services it offered.

Dr Michael Marendy holds an MSc (clothing and textiles) from the University of Alberta, Canada and a PhD from Griffith University.  Michael was awarded a Churchill Fellowship which allowed him to gain valuable hands on experience in the textile conservation laboratory at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  He has worked in a conservation capacity for various institutions including the Queensland Museum, Museum of Brisbane, Queensland Women’s Historical Association and the Queensland Art Gallery, among others.  Michael has served on education, fashion, museum and textile related professional bodies and advisory committees.  As a renowned public speaker he has presented papers both nationally and internationally.

Thursday 18 May – 10.30am – 1.15pm – INTEREST MORNING

Buried deep in the jungles of Central America and Mexico are the remains of a sophisticated civilization with a rich and varied culture that produced remarkable art works and architecture. These hidden treasures reveal a complex, highly intelligent, creative people who immortalized themselves with their art.  The Interest Morning includes a discussion of various forms of Mayan art: intricately carved stelae, polychromatic figurines, ceramics, painted murals, hieroglyphs, textiles, sculpture, and architectural marvels like soaring temple pyramids accompanied by visual examples and explanations of stylistic elements.   Materials and methods of Mayan art will also be included as well as their history, culture, concepts of beauty, and motivation for artistic expression.   The monumental art and architecture commissioned by kings in an attempt to memorialize themselves will be highlighted with beautiful illustrations. This Interest Morning illuminates for us the artistic expression of one of the world’s most enigmatic and highly advanced ancient civilisations.

Sandra Mowry is an author, historian lecturer and world traveller.  She has taught at the University of Delaware, Rosemont College, Widener University and the University of Pennsylvania.  Sandra wrote a newspaper column for fifteen years as well as many other articles and has made numerous radio and television appearances in the US.  As a volunteer for the Philadelphia Art Museum she has presented programs on ancient civilizations, artifacts and architecture.  In addition she has conducted extensive research into the cultures of many countries and civilizations.  Sandra has travelled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America and has shared her experience and knowledge with the public in talks for service organisations and enrichment lectures on numerous cruise lines for over 20 years.  Sandra also paints in several mediums, mainly watercolor, and in the decorative arts, she paints furniture in two styles: primitive folk art and a la MacKenzie-Childs.

Friday 19 May

These two architects would forever change the history of architecture by pushing the conventional limits and extending the boundaries of architecture with their bold, innovative designs.  Frank Lloyd Wright, leader of the Prairie School movement and creator of the Usonian home, had a vision to change the landscape of the US.  Canadian-American Frank O. Gehry forged his own architectural language with complex shapes and non-traditional materials, leaving the creative impact of his astonishing buildings all around the world.  This lecture will contrast the very different ways they challenged academic standards, and will include personal profiles and biographical information that focus on the influences and inspirations that spawned their creativity and personal styles.  Methods, concepts, creative processes and elements of style, form and function will be illustrated with examples from their bodies of works.  The two are intrinsically bound by the amazing coincidence that skyrocketed their careers and propelled them to worldwide fame when each designed the same venue, with the same name, sponsored by the same organization, but four decades and an ocean apart – the New York Guggenheim and the Bilbao Guggenheim museums.

Sandra Mowry has taught at the University of Delaware, Rosemont College, Widener University and the University of Pennsylvania. She has presented programs on ancient civilizations, artefacts and architecture for the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Friday 23 June

Music speaks to us through pictures and gestures in sound, all pre-arranged by talented composers.  Today Heath explores how western composers have created sound-based messages through gesture and pattern.  En route, he travels through a wide variety of musical media – instrumental music, opera, sacred music, pop music and (even) advertising jingles.

Professor Heath Lees was for 25 years Professor of Music at the University of Auckland, now retired he spends his time equally between New Zealand and France.  With a research interest in the relationship between music and literature Heath is the author of a number of musical treatments of writers such as Beckett and Joyce as well as a book “Mallarmé and Wagner: Music and Poetic Language”.  Heath is much in demand as a lecturer and presenter for various arts and music groups, and for Wagner Societies the world over.  Founder of the Wagner society of New Zealand, in 2016 he toured most of the Wagner Societies in the US and Canada and presents the pre opera talks for the Opera Australia production of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”.  For some years Heath was host of the TVNZ weekly Arts Program “Kaleidoscope” and has also presented over 400 episodes for Radio New Zealand’s “Concert Programme”.

Friday 14 July

Using examples of original dress from the period, magazine editorial and contemporary photographs, this lecture looks upstairs and downstairs at the importance of dress across the social classes.  Downton Abbey is the perfect example of how class dominated dress for centuries using the example of each member of the household from Lord Grantham, the family patriarch down to Daisy the scullery maid, this lecture considers how dress was central to status.  It also begins to chart the changes that occurred during and after the Great War and how life was never to be quite the same again.

Dr Kate Strasdin has worked in curatorial positions with objects of dress and textiles in museums for many years and is currently Assistant Curator at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Totnes, Devon.  Kate is also a Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University, teaching history and contextual studies to fashion and textile students.  Her publications include ‘An Easy Day for a Lady’ (Costume, Journal of the Costume Society, 2008) and ‘Empire Dressing – the Design and Realisation of Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Gown’ (Journal of Design History, 2012).  Kate is currently writing a book about Queen Alexandra’s wardrobe which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2018.  She is also one of the youngest practitioners of the dying art of producing handmade Honiton lace.

Friday 14 July – 12.45pm – 3.15pm – INTEREST AFTERNOON

This Interest Afternoon is all about slow fashion and a reaction to the mass production fast fashion that is so much a part of our experience of dress today.  It combines couture embroidery, Honiton lace and a look at foundation garments into an afternoon that is all about the trimming and additions to historic dress that make it look the way it does.

Couture Embroidery from 1850.  Tucked away in the attic workshops of Paris Haute Couture embroidery studios have produced stunning hand worked embellishment for high class dressmakers since the 1850s.  We delve into the history of just some of these establishments, from the splendours of Maison Lesage and Maison Lemarie – embroidery and feather houses, to the less well known art of the plisseur, pleating fabrics using traditional techniques. We also consider some of the older British embroiderers such as Hand & Lock and looks at how, through establishments such as the Royal School of Needlework, the art of embroidery still occupies an important place in industry today.  Honiton Lace.  The art of Honiton lace making is an age old skill that has seen the creation of some of the finest lace work in the world.  Used to embellish the garments of the rich and famous from the 18th century onwards, this is primarily the story of the Honiton lace trade in the 19th century and its revival under Queen Victoria.  We look at some of the industry’s most impressive pieces from the Queen’s wedding dress to the royal christening gown.  It is an industry rooted in rural traditions and so this is a tale of ordinary people creating extraordinary garments.  The Foundations of Fashion – the History of Underwear.  Christian Dior said ‘Without foundations there can be no fashion’.  For centuries, the clothed silhouette was determined not so much by what the outer garments looked like but how they were shaped by foundation garments.  From corsets to farthingales, busks to camisoles, crinolines to bustles, we look at how these foundations shaped our ancestors’ approach to dress.

Friday 25 August

The Nazis looted over 20% of Western Art during World War II and the effects of Nazi looting are still evident today.  The lecture covers the following topics: setting the scene in Germany, the Fuhrer museum, Nazi art repositories, Post War restitution and the Monuments Men, contemporary restitution issues and current international recovery efforts.  There are several landmark international cases that I will discuss in detail, including Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer and the stash of looted art found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich flat in 2012.

Shauna Isaac studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Birkbeck College, London.  She runs an art recovery company and serves on the advisory board of the European Shoah Legacy Institute.  She has given talks to the Focus-Abengoa Foundation Symposium in Seville, the Courtauld Institute, the Documentation Centre of World War ll Cultural Assets, Sotheby’s and Microsoft.  Shauna’s publications include articles for The Art Newspaper, Art & Law Magazine and Art Quarterly.

Friday 15 September

Two of the greatest and most accessible artists of the nineteenth century – at once traditional and revolutionary, Degas and Rodin continue to excite and disturb the modern viewer.  Rodin was a sculptor whose vision is fired by his vibrant spiritual and sensual search for expression; his figures struggle between heaven and hell.  Degas was an artist who seemingly disparaged the spiritual and yet his work is, like Rembrandt’s, profoundly human, to such a degree that he teaches us to see the spiritual in the earthbound.  Renoir once said, that even ‘if Degas had never picked up a paintbrush in his life, he still would have been the greatest artist of the nineteenth century.  He shows us, as one famous ballet dancer once said ‘the blood in the shoe.’  As an old man, Degas revealed a great truth about himself and his work: ‘if the leaves on the trees didn’t move’ he said, ‘how sad we would be’. That is the simple consolation of movement caught in his work.  Michael will bring along some of the props that he made for the film Degas and the Dance, these include monotypes, pastels, drawings, etchings and etching plates.

Michael Howard teaches at Manchester School of Art and Design at the Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches both academic and studio-based students. He is a painter, sculptor, printmaker and ceramicist who has exhibited at the RA and his work is represented in the Manchester Art Gallery and many private collections internationally.  Michael has published widely on European art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  His books include: L. S. Lowry: A Visionary Artist; Goya; Whistler; Monet; Cézanne; and The Impressionists by Themselves.  Michael has featured on television and radio many times and he and his wife, the artist Ghislaine Howard, worked on the film Degas and the Dance which has received many awards.

Thursday 19 October – 10.30am – 1.15pm – INTEREST MORNING

The Interest Morning looks at Antique Tribal Rugs and Dowry Weavings of the Persian and Central Asian Nomads.  We are taken on a journey beginning in Outer Mongolia in the 5th century BC and following the 11th century migrations from Turkmenistan, the cradle of weaving, into the Caucasus, Persia and Afghanistan.  We will be introduced to the nomadic tribes of these countries and their woven rugs, carpets and dowry bags, with particular emphasis on those of the 19th century and earlier.  These tribal weavings illustrate the skill of the women who produced exquisite works of woven art, using vegetable colours and age-old designs whilst living and travelling in primitive conditions and hostile landscapes.  The tribal weavings of the 19th century and earlier represent the pinnacle of achievement and wonderful free expression of the art of the weaver. Today, these weavings are highly desirable and collectable works of woven art.

Whilst carrying out reconnaissance work for two university archaeological expeditions in southern Iran, Brian MacDonald travelled extensively throughout that country as well as in Afghanistan and Turkey.  He has lived and worked amongst two tribal groups in Iran – the Afshar of Kerman Province and the Qashqa’i of Fars.  Brian was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his work amongst the Persian nomads.  He has returned to Iran on several occasions travelling and collecting rugs and dowry bags amongst the Bakhtiari, Qashqa’i and Shahsevan tribes.  Brian’s book Tribal Rugs – Treasures of the Black Tent is now in its 3rd up-dated re-print.

Friday 20 October

An Exploration of Symbolism in the Antique Weavings of the Nomadic Tribes of Persia and Central Asia.  The nomadic peoples of Ancient Persia and Central Asia were pre-Islamic and believed in Shamanism.  Man is a symbol-making animal and this can be seen in the art of the nomadic peoples.  Magical, cosmic and talismanic symbols played a major part in their everyday lives and so it was a natural progression for symbols to be woven into their rugs and weavings.  It was a language that only they could read.  No rug in nomadic life was made purely for decoration – all had symbolic meaning and purpose.  The weaver was able to weave or ‘write’ into the rugs, her own particular beliefs and interpretations of the events in her life at the time.  Today, these nomadic women no longer weave spontaneously and the language of symbols is lost.  The meanings may now be forgotten by the weavers but the magical and spiritual symbols remain – part of the culture which has linked countless nomadic women for thousands of years.  This Interest illustrates many of the symbols woven into rugs and weavings, exploring the symbolic representation and significance of the lost language.

Whilst carrying out reconnaissance work for two archaeological expeditions in southern Iran, Brian MacDonald travelled extensively there as well as in Afghanistan and Turkey. He has also lived and worked amongst two Irian tribal groups – the Afshar of Kerman Province and the Qashqa’i of Fars. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his work amongst the Persian nomads he has several times returned to Iran, travelling and collecting rugs and dowry bags amongst the Bakhtiari, Qashqa’i and Shahsevan tribes. Brian’s book Tribal Rugs – Treasures of the Black Tent is now in its 3rd updated reprint.

Friday 1 December


Venue and Time of Lectures and Special Interest Events

The State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, South Brisbane.
Please be seated by 10.25am as sessions begin at 10.30am sharp


Non-ADFAS members are invited to attend lectures and Interest Events as Guests however they must be registered beforehand by telephoning Maria Hansen on 3374 3530 or by email to

Lecture – $30 per person ($25 other ADFAS society members)
Interest Events – $65 per guest


The annual membership subscription is $190.00

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