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, Church Recording and Young Arts, 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.

Rob Forster, Chairman 2018-21

Titian, Noli mi tangere

The picture of the month for October in The National Gallery is Noli mi tangere by Titian.

Against tumbling hills, farm buildings, scattered sheep and a glowing sunset, Mary Magdalene reaches towards Christ.

They are in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Mary, having tended to Christ’s crucified body in the tomb, has been grieving his death. To her astonishment, the man she mistook for a gardener reveals his true identity: he is Christ, resurrected from the dead.


Galleries everywhere are endeavouring to bring their great art treasures to the public who are unable to get to galleries and museums  as once they did. Their curators have prepared short lectures, and the genius of modern technology can give us ‘Virtual Tours’.

Just a ‘taster’ of these facilities is now available on this website starting with lectures provided by our ‘parent body’ – The Arts Society. The section is called The Arts Society plus and has its own drop down menu accessible at the top of this page.

The November Lecture

The November lecture is scheduled to take place on Novembr 12th in the Matthews Hall.

The lecture is entitled

Augustus and Gwen John

Screenshot 2020-10-13 at 11.12.00

The speaker on this occasion is Linda Smith

Augustus and Gwen John were brother and sister, born in the west of Wales in the 1870s. Both studied at the Slade School of Art in London. His work has been called brash and shallow, and hers dismissed as fussy and spinsterish. These assessments are not really fair to either artist, and this lecture takes a careful look at their lives, up to the point of Gwen’s death in 1939. At that time, she had no public reputation whatsoever, and her brother was enjoying enormous professional and critical success. By the time he died, however, the positions had been reversed.

Linda Smith is a well-qualified art historian with a special interest in British art since 1550, and Modern Art.

She is an accredited Arts Society lecturer, and an experienced gallery guide and lecturer at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, and other public galleries. She is also a regular contributor to the London Art Studies website, an award-winning online learning platform specialising in art and art history.

Members will be aware that there are many constraints put on ExeDFAS because of the Coronavirus situation. The maximum size for a group meeting in the Matthews Hall is 55. We hope that our speaker will agree to give her lecture twice on the 12th November  and that it may be recorded for others to see on line.

The first lecture in the Matthews Hall will begin at 10.00 a.m., the second at 11.45 a.m., and places will be allocated by the membership secretary to those who have reserved a place at one of the two lectures. Those who attend the lecture in the Hall will be advised by the membership secretary of the etiquette that must be observed in order to satisfy safeguarding arrangements.

If the lecturer does agree to record the lecture for viewing on YouTube, members will be informed of the link by the membership secretary. A link will also be provided here on the website. and made live on the 12th November.


From Topsham Museum

Contact and Queries