Bowral & District

ArtsNational Bowral welcomes you.

ArtsNational Bowral is entering its 37th year run by a committee of volunteers. We aim to promote an interest in the study of decorative and fine arts by offering nine high quality monthly lectures on a wide range of subjects including social history, landscape gardening and design, architecture, textiles and music. The presenters are UK and Australian lecturers chosen for their expert knowledge.

Our members greatly appreciate getting together to listen to the lecture; ask questions and enjoy refreshments and camaraderie afterwards, a wonderful way to make friends. 2024 offers eight live hour-long lectures by well-credentialed speakers.

We support the philosophy of philanthropy to the community and contribute financial support to the Young Arts. In 2022 the society also donated $2,000 to the Lismore Gallery Flood Appeal. We also support the Patricia Robertson Foundation.


Lectures are held in the Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral 2576

Lectures are on a Tuesday at 5:00pm

Annual membership
$165 single
$290 couple
Click here to join or email:

Guests welcome:
$30 per lecture
Student free

For all enquiries please email: or
Postal Address: PO Box 1918 Bowral NSW 2576
ABN: 88 471 347 310

Chair: Sharon Eskell
Treasurer: Mark de Jager
Secretary: Pamela Spruce – 0400 728 861
Membership: Julia Kelly – 0425 243 812


Tuesday 19 March 2024
Presented by David Worthington
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Brâncuși was the son of a peasant from a mountainous province of Romania, yet he became an internationally famous artist and is now seen as one of, if not the, most important sculptors of the 20th century. How did this happen and what is so special about his work? Brancusi combined the Romanian wood working tradition with a Belles Arts fine art training. He also had an intuitive understanding of the significance of engineered products. A great friend of the inventor of Conceptual art Marcel Duchamp, Brancusi is an enigmatic contradiction, and this will be explored in this lecture, along with his relevance to 20th century sculpture.

David Worthington graduated from Oxford University in 1984 with a degree in Philosophy and Theology, then studied fine art in London, Barcelona and New York. He was shortlisted for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2009.  David is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Sculptors.  With public commissions in the UK, America and Japan, his work is in the museum the Creative Cities Collection Beijing China

Tuesday 28 May 2024
Presented by Andy McConnell
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

A light-hearted talk examines the history of wine, an elixir that has sustained much of humanity for almost 10,000 years. Tracing the story of wine: from its humble beginnings in rotting grapes before the Bronze Age to the present when single bottles can change hands for thousands of pounds. It examines the extraordinary diversity of paintings and artefacts, including drinking vessels, created by some of history’s greatest artists and craftsmen to enhance the pleasure of wine, and impress guests. Covering the ancient societies of Egypt, Greece and Rome, travels through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and 18th century Britain.

Andy McConnell is the author of the acclaimed tome The Decanter, An Illustrated History of Glass From 1650. He followed this in 2006 with Miller’s’ 20th Century Glass. He writes regularly for journals as diverse as The Times and Glass Circle News and runs Britain’s largest antique and vintage glass gallery in Rye, Sussex. He is best known as the distinctly humorous glass specialist on BBC’s evergreen Antiques Roadshow.

Tuesday 25 June 2024
Presented by Dr Brett McKern
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Pipe organs have existed in some form for over two millennia, and have greatly developed into one of the most complicated machines made by humankind. How do they work, how are they played, and what do they sound like? Moreover, organs are intrinsically linked to the buildings in which they are found. To what fascinating venues has an organist been afforded access?  A lecture-recital, some short performances on a portable digital organ will be interspersed with description, discussion and insights into the ‘King of Instruments’.

Dr Brett McKern is an organist, composer, choir director lecturer, music teacher, and consultant on music and music education. He holds numerous qualifications including two doctorates in music. He has performed and his compositions have been performed internationally including in such venues as Westminster Abbey. Brett has recorded for CD, DVD, and film. He has lectured at various universities, and a number of his private students are now professional musicians.

Tuesday 30 July 2024
Presented by Dr John Stevens
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is arguably the most important Indian artistic figure of the modern era. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, claimed that he had two gurus: Gandhi and Tagore. A renowned poet, novelist, composer and painter, Tagore is also the only person in history to have written the national anthems for three countries (India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.) He became a global sensation when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first non-European to do so. This lecture provides an introduction to Tagore’s remarkable life and work, including his novels, poetry, songs and paintings.

Dr John Stevens is a Research Associate at SOAS, University of London. His PhD in History is from University College London. He teaches British Imperial history, Indian history and Bengali language, and is a regular visitor to India and Bangladesh. He publishes widely in the fields of British and Indian history. His biography of the Indian guru Keshab Chandra Sen – Keshab: Bengal’s Forgotten Prophet – was published by Hurst and Oxford University Press in 2018.

Tuesday 27 August 2024
Presented by Vivienne Lawes
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

The period covered in this lecture is one during which local artists began to look away from Western (particularly Dutch) fine art traditions and towards the native artisanal and ritual practices that represent notions of national identity. We focus on the effects of colonialism and post-colonialism in the evolution of fine art in the Indonesian archipelago. Ranging from the Western Romantic style of painting by the aristocratic 19th century Indonesian painter Raden Saleh, through the ‘Mooi Indies’ school of the inter-war period, to the embrace of Western Modernism in the mid-20th century. The lecture finishes with developments in contemporary art.

Viv Lawes is an art historian, art market analyst and curator/writer combining a hands-on career in the art business with academic research and education. Teaching at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the University of the Arts London, the City & Guilds of London Art School, University of London, and Imperial College.  She is UK Consultant to Larasati Auctioneers (Jakarta/ Singapore) and One East Asia gallery, Singapore, and has curated exhibitions in London and Singapore since 2011.

Tuesday 10 September 2024
Presented by Richard Travers
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Hilda’s life and work illustrate a wonderful truth:  out of adversity can come great beauty.  She held her first single-artist exhibition in Paris in 1912 of drawings made in Morocco.  Hilda’s career was launched.  She was 28 years old.  Hilda was making a name as an artist of France when the Great War broke out and she fled to London.  The war dealt her a series of blows with the deaths of family members.  In the 1920s, dividing her time between Australia and France, she held several exhibitions. Working always in bold colours and valuing, above all, the foundation skills of good drawing, her best works were grand-scale portraits – all rendered with Hilda’s trademark generosity and honesty.

Richard Travers practised as a trial lawyer for more than 40 years. He was a member of the New South Wales bar and a partner in national law firm, Clayton Utz. He taught administrative law at the UNSW Law School. As historian, Richard Travers is the author of: Hilda: The Life of Hilda Rix Nicholas, published by Thames & Hudson in July 2021 and several other books.


Tuesday 1 October 2024
Presented by Rosalind Whyte
Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Portraits provide a fascinating insight into the changing styles of dress over the centuries. This lecture follows the different fashions as revealed in paintings, looking at dress and some of the more ridiculous styles of fashion from the 16th century to the 19th century. In times when Sumptuary Laws prescribed what you could wear, according to your status in society, fashion was much less of a personal choice and more a reflection of social standing. The colour of your clothing or a plunging neckline could mark you out as belonging to a particular class. We explore the wildest extremes of fashion through the ages.

Rosalind Whyte has a BA and MA from Goldsmith’s College, and an MA (distinction) from Birkbeck College. She is an experienced guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Royal Academy and Greenwich. Lectures at Tate, to independent art societies and on cruises.


Tuesday 5 November 2024
Presented by Paul Chapman
Venue & Time: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral at 5pm

Picasso remains the twentieth century’s single most important artistic figure, a towering genius who changed the face of modern art. His influence on modern British Art is undoubtable, artists like Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon and David Hockney have all been indebted to the works of Picasso. Each one of these artists had an epiphany moment when confronted by Picasso’s work. Throughout the 20th century the shape shifting Spanish artist had an enduring influence on these major British artists. Each artist took from and then adapted Picasso’s work, to create their own unique versions of Modern British Art.

Paul Chapman is an Art Historian and a National Gallery trained guide with many years of experience working in education.  Paul has also given talks and tours in Museums and Galleries in the UK and Europe. His book examines the subject of cultural crossovers and appropriations in 20th century painting.  Works as a tour guide at the National Gallery and the Longford Castle art collection and is a visiting tutor at Marlborough College and a tutor at MCSS.

Tuesday 26 November 2024
Venue: Bowral Memorial Hall, 16-24 Bendooley Street, Bowral
Time: 5:00pm

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More Information


Bowral was the sixth ArtsNational society to form in 1988 after Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Armidale and Newcastle. One hundred and ten members attended the inaugural lecture given by Anna Clark in March 1998.
As well as many interesting lectures, study days and tours which have been enthusiastically received over the years, the Society has been aware that the focus of spreading interest in the decorative and fine arts is not the only objective of ArtsNational. Support for an individual or organisation who contributes to our national artistic heritage is willingly given.

Over the years a number of gifts have been made including: a weather vane to Christ Church, Bong Bong (near Moss Vale), antique mirrors for the National Trust property Harper’s Mansion at Berrima, and a bronze statue by Brooke Maurice ‘Girl Reading’ to the Bowral Library. In 2008, as part of the Society’s 20th Anniversary commemoration, a painting by the well-known Southern Highlands artist, Reg Rowe, was presented to the Bowral & District Hospital.

Seven churches have had their architecture and artefacts recorded by a small ArtsNational team and the beautifully bound books sent to the Association of ArtsNational, the National Library and each church kept a copy.
2006 Holy Trinity Berrima
2007 Tudor House
2008 St Aidans Exeter
2010 Christ Church Moss Vale
2014 St Jude’s Bowral
2017 Hartzer Park
2019 All Saints Sutton Forest

ArtsNational Bowral (ArtsNational Bowral) is twinned with The Arts Society Sheffield (UK). This allows for more interaction with the parent body from which ArtsNational grew, and the source of many of our fine lecturers.
Members visiting the Southern Highlands might find time to visit the world-renowned Bradman Museum or the Sturt Craft Centre.

Sturt is a vibrant centre for the teaching and production of fine craft in a serene garden setting. During its sixty years, Sturt has been home or inspiration for the best in Australian design and craft and continues to be so. Visit the Sturt Gallery, shop, gardens workshops or Cafe.

The Bradman Museum houses one of the finest collections of cricket memorabilia, artefacts and curios in Australia. Comprising a number of galleries, one screens archival films from the 1920s to 1940s.

An important centre for the Arts in the Southern Highlands is the Ngunungulla Gallery and Bowral & District Arts Society (BDAS), where a variety of classes and workshops are held for both adults and children, covering painting in all mediums, drawing including life drawing, printmaking, and many other subjects.

The Wingecarribee Council organises an Arts Trail each year where artists open their homes and studios to members of the public. The Southern Highlands Events is well worth a look providing a convenient source of information for readers to find out what is happening in the local scene. On the music front the annual Bowral Autumn Music Festival is a very popular event.


The Society has a long-standing tradition of supporting Young Arts in the community. As an example, historically there has been an annual prize given to a young (<40) Fine Arts students at the Moss Vale TAFE, a bursary awarded for several years to a fulltime student at the Sturt School for Wood at Mittagong.  We have taken students from a local primary school to the Art Gallery of NSW; sponsored performances by the Bell Shakespeare Company for both Primary and Secondary schools and by OzOpera for several primary schools in the district.

For two years we gave a bursary to a young ballerina at The Highland School of Performing Art.  In 2024 we sponsored Treehouse Theatre, a not-for-profit organisation providing a platform for young refugees to share their life stories.  The performance called “Why Us?” helps audiences better understand the refugee experience.  The company was grateful to ArtsNational Bowral for promotion, accommodation and meals.

The Society is keen to extend its support to suitable practitioners of the Arts in the Southern Highland and would welcome any suggestions. We continue to find ways in which we can enhance the artistic lives of youth in our area. Please contact any member of the Committee.