Brisbane River

Select Society

Postal Address:

ADFAS Brisbane River
PO Box 259
Virginia BC QLD 4014

ABN: 21 339 806 033

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.

Our 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 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. 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.

We regret that we currently have no membership vacancies.

Committee 2020

Judy Winston Smith
Ph: (07) 3371 6851

Terry Cronin
Ph: (07) 3870 8799


Ken Roberts
Ph: 0419 383 938

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

Membership Enquiries:

Programme for 2020

** Please note lectures are currently cancelled until the end of August and updates will be posted on the Webpage as they become available

6 March 2020
The Canal Age
Paul Atterbury

Between the 1760s and the 1840s a network of 2,000 miles of canals and waterways was built to connect the cities, towns, and industrial centres of Britain, a network vital to the successful development of the Industrial Revolution. These canals and river navigations, created almost entirely for commercial traffic with private capital and by huge gangs of labourers working largely with their bare hands, impacted hugely on the British landscape and created a social and economic revolution. A generation of engineers, architects and artists helped to turn Britain into the world’s greatest trading Empire.

Paul Atterbury is a writer, lecturer, curator and broadcaster, and a familiar face on the BBC Television’s Antiques Roadshow, where he has been a member of the team of experts for over 25 years. He specialises in the art, architecture and design of the 19th and 20th centuries, but has many interests and enthusiasms outside this area of expertise, some of which are reflected in the lectures he is offering. He lives with his wife Chrissie by the sea in Weymouth, Dorset and they are both regular visitors to Australia. Indeed, Paul has lectured to every ADFAS society in Australia and New Zealand during previous visits.

24 April 2020
Touching the Sky: The Invention of the Skyscraper
Matthew LAING

From their humble origins, skyscrapers are the architectural symbol of the 20th century and a genuine turning-point in the long and complex histories of cities, life and work. Yet the skyscraper did not happen overnight. It was the culmination of many forces – economic, industrial, technological and architectural. This lecture tells the story of the first half-century of the skyscraper era, from the 1890s to the crowning achievements of the Chrysler Building in the 1930s and the Seagram Building of the 1950s. It will explore the unique conditions that led to their development (and enduring popularity) in the United States, and the key visionaries who made them possible.

Dr Matthew Laing, lecturer at Monash University, graduated from the Australian National University. Matthew has held positions at Boston College, USA and Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Matthew’s interest in United States history, politics and culture began during his early years as an intern in the US Congress. He runs annual tours to the USA through Academy Travel, gives lecture series on American culture and history at the East Melbourne Library, and delivers occasional public lectures on American subjects in a sessional capacity for other university faculties.

22 May 2020
Mosaics in the Northern Adriatic: Power, Beauty and Education
Nirvana ROMMEL

For centuries, Aquileia hid Europe’s largest early Christian mosaic.  Poreč mosaics have great aesthetic beauty and story-telling powers. They bear witness to centuries of people and culture mixing and power struggles in the first Christian millennium. The lecture explains their function within their socio-political background in one of Europe’s most multicultural areas.

Nirvana holds a BA in History of Art, an MA in English Language and Literature and has worked extensively as a freelance lecturer, public programs’ consultant and tour director.

26 June 2020
The Tentmakers of Old Cairo
Jenny Bowker

Tentmaker work is brilliantly coloured appliqué, and it is usually men who make it. The name comes from the fact that the work used to line tents or screens covered in appliqué that could line a whole street, or define an area for a wedding, a party or a funeral. The designs are intricate and beautiful. Some are designed on paper-fold principles, others derived from Mosque floors or door decorations, or from wall panels in Pharaonic tombs. Some are based on Koranic calligraphy.  The art is dying. Its connection with funerals deems it unlucky to put inside a house. The work is seen as the work of labourers, and is not admired or respected. Imitation printed fabric is made now printed in Egypt on long-lasting synthetic fabric to replace work made by the Tentmakers. There were about 255 excellent stitchers in 1979. There are now perhaps only about 45 of the master stitchers left, and while many work in the back streets they are rarely doing their own design work.  Jenny lived for four years in Cairo and worked closely with the Egyptian Tentmakers. She has led many International Exhibitions with the Tentmakers in order to keep their art alive.

Jenny has been working with textiles since receiving her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) from ANU, Canberra.   Married to a diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Jennifer has been fortunate to live for a total of eleven years in Middle Eastern countries. A noted Quilter her solo exhibitions have been held in the U.K., Australia and the Middle East. Jennifer has also lectured in countries where she has travelled, and is a sought-after lecturer at Quilt Conventions and Universities.

17 July 2020
The Art of the Icon
Dr Alexey Makhrov

The lecture examines the concept of the icon in the Russian Orthodox Church. It explains the liturgical and cultural significance of the icons, and analyses the reasons for their veneration and use in everyday life. It considers the arguments of the Iconoclasts, compares the approaches to religious painting in the West and in the East. The lecture is illustrated with masterpieces of icon art and examples of miracle-working icons.

Dr Alexey Makhrov studied art history at the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg and obtained a PhD in architectural history at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He worked as postdoctoral researcher of Russian art criticism of the nineteenth century at the University of Exeter, England, before moving to Switzerland in 2003. Having obtained a master’s degree in International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, he has taught courses on art history in Zurich and Geneva. He has worked as lecturer on cultural tours to Russia and Switzerland since 1998.

Interest Afternoon – Friday 17 July 2020 at 12.30 pm
Summer Palaces of the Tzars
Dr Alexey Makhrov

The royal estates in the environs of St Petersburg not only impress with their splendour but also give fascinating insights into the private life of the Romanovs. During the 18th century inhospitable terrain was transformed into idyllic locations in Oranienbaum, Peterhof, Strelna, Gatchina, Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk. Peter the Great, his daughter Elisabeth, Catherine the Great and their successors spared no expense in building and decorating palaces, villas and gardens. During the Second World War most of the estates were heavily damaged but have since been lovingly restored. The lectures represent the palaces and gardens in the environs of St Petersburg and give an account of their past and present.

21 August 2020
John Peter Russell: Australian Artist and Friend of the Impressionists
Lucretia Walker

Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, rated the work of fellow artist, Australian John Peter Russell highly, and Matisse claims that Russell had taught him everything he knew about colour. Sculptor Rodin believed that in the future, Russell would be as famous as himself, Monet and Renoir. This did not turn out to be the case. However, during their lifetimes Russell was more successful than the unknown van Gogh. What reversed this situation? How do artists become famous? His extraordinary story rarely told, is of a life devoted to adventure, love, tragedy and art and is one worth telling.

Lucrezia Walker has lectured regularly for the National Gallery, London, teaching six-week courses, Study Days and giving lunchtime lectures. She is a regular speaker at the Royal Academy, at Tate Britain and Tate Modern. She studied in Venice and Perugia, lived and worked in Rome, and has 20 years’ experience leading cultural tours in major European cities. Lucrezia teaches the London Art History Programme for the University of North Carolina and was Galleries Correspondent for The Tablet, and Lay Canon (Visual Arts) at St Paul’s Cathedral where she continues to serve on its Visual Arts Committee. She is the author of several books on 19th and 20th century artists and art movements.

18 September 2020
China Comes to Town
Janus Karczweski-Slowikowski

A study of Chinoiserie furniture and furnishings of, in particular, the 18th century with a view to assessing whether it was to be taken seriously or regarded as a caricature.  The surprise comes in realising that some “modern” Western furniture had already existed for several centuries in China.

Janusz has retired from a 35 year career in Higher Education. Whilst studying for his first degree, he worked part time in an antiques shop, which he came to take over as proprietor. Such was his interest in collecting that he became known as the dealer who bought but never sold. His lectures seek to explain furniture in terms of the skills and materials employed in its design and construction and also its socio-economic significance. He has lectured on antique furniture since 1975. He has lectured to over 300 NADFAS societies including those in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, The Hague and Spain.

Interest Afternoon – Friday 18 September 2020 at 12.30 pm
Are You Sitting Comfortably? The History of the Chair
Janusz Karczweski-Slowikowski

Be amazed at just how much there is to reveal about something so common place as the chair.  We trace the development of the chair in terms of its construction and style from ancient times through to the 19th century and considers its role as a symbol of power and authority in religious and courtly ritual as well as in more ordinary domestic settings.  The afternoon affords a great deal of fun for attendees.

Interest Morning – Wednesday 14 October 2020 at 10.30 am
The Book as Art+ Book Binding Demonstration and Clinic
Dominic Riley

Part one illustrates the potential of the book as a three-dimensional object, from pop-ups, hidden fore-edge paintings, peep-show books, to books with hidden compartments and intriguing surprises. Whatever the reason for the creation of these unusual books, playfulness and humour is always a guiding principle. Dominic will show work from his favourite book artists, including examples of experimental book structures he has collected and some he has made himself as part of his interest in this creative genre. Seen together they represent over two hundred years of questioning the notion of ‘what is a book?’

In the second session Dominic will give a ‘live’ demonstration of some aspects of the art of bookbinding such as restoration techniques and tooling leather with gold leaf. The aim here is to show some of the ancient skills involved in the creation of a fine binding or the repair of an old or rare book – techniques which were once closely guarded secrets and even today are rarely seen outside the world of bookbinding societies.

To conclude, participants will be invited to bring along a book of their own they may like to discuss. This could be an old curiosity which they would like to find out more about, or a treasured volume in need of repair. Dominic will offer helpful advice about how to care for such books, and give guidance for those considering having a binding restored.

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder, artist, lecturer and teacher. He specializes in the restoration of antiquarian books and the creation of contemporary fine bindings. He teaches his craft both in the UK and USA, across Europe and in Australia and New Zealand. His prize-winning bindings are in collections world wide, including the British Library, the V&A, the National Library of Wales, the Grolier Club in New York and the San Francisco Public Library. He is an accredited lecturer with the Arts Society, a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and President of the Society of Bookbinders. In 2013 he won first prize — the prestigious Sir Paul Getty award — in the International Bookbinding Competition, and his winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

16 October 2020
Lost on the Titanic: The Making of The Great Omar Binding
Dominic Riley

When it was completed in 1912, the Great Omar was the most elaborate and opulent binding ever created. It was embellished with over one thousand jewels, five thousand leather onlays and a hundred square feet of gold leaf, and took a team of craftsmen over two and a half years to make. It went down with the Titanic. This lecture tells the story of the Great Omar and the bookbinders Sangorski and Sutcliffe, who were known for their fabulous jeweled bindings. It is also the story of life after the tragedy, and of one young man in particular, who decided against the odds to recreate the binding – a venture which itself is mired in tragedy and which occupied him for the rest of his life.

4 December 2020 – 10.30am


Queensland Terrace,
State Library of Qld                       
(RSVP by 30 November)


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 – $35 per person ($25 other ADFAS society members)
Interest Events –$65 per guest ($60 per member)


The annual membership subscription is $200.00

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