Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (ADFAS) Cairns
ADFAS Cairns is a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing shared appreciation of the Arts through a yearly series of illustrated talks on decorative and fine arts. Venue is the Boland Centre, Spence Street, Cairns City.


ADFAS Cairns is a vibrant society dedicated to a broader understanding of fine arts.  We are a not for profit organisation that is run entirely by volunteers.  We offer eight lectures per year. Two lectures are presented by ADFAS lecturers, the remaining six by NADFAS UK lecturers; all experts in their field.  Our 2019 lectures inform and illustrate Aboriginal Rock Art, Music, Arts and Crafts of Mexico, Speech in Drama, East-West Trade in India, Renaissance Masters, Persia, and Landscape Gardening; the usual to the unusual and more. In the last twenty years Cairns has proudly hosted many world renowned experts, showcasing their passion for their dedicated subjects. Our members are delighted to welcome such diversity to the tropics. 

Everyone is welcome to attend the lectures, but better still, why not become a member and enjoy the benefits.

Monday 18th March

Australian Aboriginal Rock Art

Presented by: Dr Paul Bahn, NADFAS

Rock art has been produced in Australia since at least 40,000 years ago and probably even longer, but continues to be produced in some regions - and major new discoveries of rock art are still being made in remote areas. The talk presents an account of some of the major regional variations in both rock paintings and rock engravings, and presents a brief account of what we know of their many meanings, particularly in relation to Aboriginal creation myths and creator-ancestors.

Wednesday 10th April

Yehudi Menuhin: Prodigy and Phenomeno

Presented by: Phillip Bailey, ADFAS

This presentation traces the chronology of a remarkable career in performance and the characters helping to shape a life dedicated to the pursuit of utopian perfection in the art of music. The lives of Yehudi’s sisters, Hephzibah and Yaltah – consummate musicians in their own right, are highlighted as their complicated relationships outside the concert hall unfolded. Several related topics are explored in the Menuhin saga, including the myths surrounding several fabled violins, the architecture and furnishings of the Menuhin residences, concert halls and their acoustics, the role of yoga in extending a career threatened by a neurological disorder, and the parts played by a group of formidable women in supporting Yehudi’s quest to change the world for the better. The demands on individuals who strive to reach the highest levels of performance are explained with the help of backstage anecdotes.

Monday 27th May

The Arts and Crafts of Mexico; Past and Present

Presented by: Chloe Sayer, NADFAS

Few countries in the world offer such a rich and varied cultural heritage as Mexico. Before the Spanish Conquest of 1519, numerous civilisations rose and fell. The great cities of the Maya, the Aztecs, the Zapotec and the Mixtec were peopled by muralists, sculptors in stone, ceramic artists, feather- and gold-workers, jewellers, weavers, and painters of sacred books. Throughout the twentieth century, painters such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo helped to set a new value on Mexico’s popular traditions. The arts and crafts of Mexico remain an essential part of life. They are a living force, not a nostalgic evocation of a vanished past. The Mexican sense of design and love of colour convey a dazzling sense of national identity. Contemporary makers combine ancient techniques and materials with those from Europe to create splendid weavings, rich embroideries, shimmering beadwork, jewellery of silver and gold, ingenious toys, pottery, and finely carved wooden dance-masks for festivals. Although most folk-artists are anonymous creators, many now sign their work. Imaginative papier-mâché figures by the celebrated Linares family, and painted pottery ‘trees of life’ by the Sotenos of Metepec, are sought after by private collectors and by major institutions like the British Museum.

Wednesday 26th June      

Speak the Speech I Pray You

Presented by: Robert Ketton, ADFAS

A great speech has the power to engage, inspire and stimulate. With due consideration to context, this presentation will explore what makes a speech memorable. Illustrating his lecture with performance and readings, Robert looks not only at content, but also at various styles of delivery and rhetoric. Why is it that some speeches have been credited with changing the course of history? What is it that elevates some speeches from the mundane to the eloquent?

By examining the language used, and by acknowledging the debt owed by many leaders to great speeches from literature, Robert takes a forensic look at why words can galvanise people to take action.

Monday 29th July  

The Honourable East India Company, East – West Trade 1600-180

Presented by: Vivienne Laws, NADFAS

This lecture explores the way in which the East India Company developed its methods of trade and facilitated the increasingly sophisticated and profound exchange of ideas between the East and West. It focuses on textile design as the vehicle for this analysis, but also includes variables such as wallpaper, porcelain and furniture, as well as the vast commercial trade in spices and tea. Concentration at first on the 17th Century textile trade with India, the lecture then turns to the 18th Century and the trade with Imperial China.

Monday 2nd September  

Masters of the Renaissance

Presented by: Leslie Primo, NADFAS

We have all heard of the great masters of the Renaissance, Leonardo and Michelangelo, speculations regarding the true lives and meanings of their works have been rife for centuries, indeed books such as the Da Vinci Code and the recent Michelangelo blockbuster exhibitions at the British Museum only serve to confirm the continued interest in these artists. But how much do we really know about their lives and their work, how did they become such great artists, were they famous in their own lifetimes, were they rich and where and how did they learn their craft? How much of a maverick was Leonardo, this lecture will look into Leonardo’s preoccupation with anatomy and his struggles with dissections. How long did it take Michelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel ceiling, how did he do it, what was his relationship with the papacy and his contemporaries such as Raphael, indeed how real was the competition and struggle for dominance between artists? This lecture will not only look at the early years of the two great masters, their training and the masters that taught them, but will also provide an insight into the lives of Leonardo and Michelangelo while looking at some of their major works, and will ultimately provide an understanding of their works through the historical and social context within which these artists worked.

Monday 30th September

The Magnificence of Persia

Presented by: Christopher Bradley, NADFAS

The greatest site from the pre-Islamic period is at Persepolis, whose bas-reliefs are a unique blend of styles from all over the Achaemenid Empire, including Egypt, Greece and India. Many Persian art forms predate the Arab conquest, but as their peak was reached within the Islamic era, religious influences are rarely completely absent. Calligraphy, geometrical patterns and Islamic architecture combined to reach unparalleled heights in the 17th century in a series of highly decorated palaces and mosques in Isfahan, at that time, one of the largest cities in the world. Throughout many centuries of occupation, it has been the respected poets who have kept the traditions of the Persian language and religion alive, particularly Sufism. Sa'di is the Persian equivalent of Shakespeare, and with his successor Hafez, both have ornate mausoleums in Shiraz.

Monday 28th October      

For the Love of Flowers

Presented by: Marilyn Elm, NADFAS

Flowers, with their infinite variety of perfume, colour and form have always provided such joy for the human soul, and an inspiration for art and design over the centuries. Their inclusion in pagan rituals will all be considered. Empress Josephine, interrupted wars so that her “Rose Ships” could deliver to the gardens of Malmaison, and Victorians sought flowery exotics from all corners of the globe in search of the rare and unusual. Herbaceous borders provided a flowery extravaganza in the Arts and Crafts garden, with plant and flower forms key in several expressions of design, especially throughout the Art Nouveau period.

In all, this talk is an exploration of our relationship with flowers. They are intrinsically woven into the fabric of our lives, whether as statements of fashion or status, or simply expressions of beauty to be enjoyed.


Click here for more information on these lectures and how much they cost.


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