Welcome to the Exe Decorative and Fine Arts Society. We are based in Topsham, and cover the towns and villages on both sides of the Exe estuary south of Exeter. Our purpose is to give our members opportunities to appreciate the arts.

We have a programme of ten lectures on various aspects of the arts, held monthly on Thursday mornings, from September to June. The lectures are illustrated and given by experts in their field. These lectures are supplemented by special interest days where we look in greater detail at a particular topic.

We also have visits to places of interest in the south west, and tours further afield, including abroad. Some of our members take part in activities such as Heritage Volunteering, and Arts Volunteering, where we try to involve young people in the arts through initiatives in local schools and colleges.

In 2017, most decorative and fine art societies changed their names to The Arts Society, following the rebranding of the national body NADFAS. We as a society decided to retain our name ExeDFAS while remaining affiliated to The Arts Society.

We welcome new members at any time, although we currently have a waiting list. We invite anyone who is interested to come along to one of our lectures, to see how informative and entertaining they are. Please let our membership secretary know in advance so that a place can be reserved.


Special Interest Study Day,

16 June starting at 10.30 a.m.

Two extraordinary goldsmiths

The SID will contrast the work of two very different craftsmen.  First, Peter Carl Faberge: the life and work of the world’s greatest goldsmith will discuss the career of this extraordinary craftsman and examine his early years, his rise in fortune following the patronage of Tsar Alexander III and his son Nicholas II.  The lecture will touch on many elements of his work – the hardstone animals, the flower studies, the jewels and, of course, the inimitable eggs with their fabulous ‘surprise.

Then Henry George Murphy: the life and work of a great neglected English goldsmith. John Benjamin will examine the career of a man who died just before the outbreak of the Second World War and, until John rediscovered him (and wrote a book about him) was largely forgotten.  Murphy’s output ranged from Arts and Crafts naturalism to Art Deco architectural forms and, in many ways, his life story is just as amazing as Faberge’s.

Formerly International Director of Jewellery at Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, John Benjamin established his own independent valuation and advisory service in 1999.  A Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company and a Freeman of the City of London, John is a Founder Liveryman and Court Assistant of The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars.  A lecturer, valuer and historian, he has been a member of the team of experts on BBC Television’s Antiques Roadshow since 1995

The June Lecture

Picasso and his Women

Behind every great artist is a muse – and legendary painter Pablo Picasso, well, he had plenty of them. Simply put, the artist’s sexual appetite was irrepressible. Over the course of his life, he had two wives, six mistresses, and dozens, if not hundreds, of lovers, many of whom served as the inspiration for the artist’s exceptionally prolific body of work. From his first tumultuous marriage to the many illicit affairs that followed, here are the top ten things to know about Picasso’s love life and the muses behind his masterpieces.

The lecturer on this occasion is Valerie Woodgate

The lecturer on this occasion is Valerie Woodgate

Lecturer and guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, also at many other London Galleries and for various art organisations.

Former member of the teaching team at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Lecturer to The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) throughout Britain, and to related organisations in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. 

This lecture will be given in the Matthews Hall at 10.45 on June 9th after the AGM

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