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

The Drunkard by Joaquin Sorolla 1919

The Picture of the Month at the National Gallery.


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 February Lecture


It is intended that this lecture  be shown on line, -Zoomed at 10.45 a.m. on February 11th. It may also be available on YouTube for a short period after that. These circumstances will be determined by the committee as soon as possible, and this information then  related to members early in February


The Lecture is entitled 

Before Impressionism


The lecturer on this occasion is to be Kathy Mclaughlin

Art history is replete with myths. Among them is the idea that outdoor painting – or painting en plein air – was invented by the young Impressionists during the 1860s and 1870s. This lecture considers artists who were painting outside from the motif well before that point. John Constable, Camille Corot, Charles Daubigny and Frederic Edwin Church are just some of the artists who led the way during the early and middle years of the 19th century, laying the groundwork for the later achievements of Impressionist painters like Renoir and Monet. This lecture considers the motivations for artists to paint en plein air, the emergence of an international vogue for naturalist landscape, as well as the techniques and materials used in outdoor painting.

Kathleen McLauchlan graduated at Oxford University (Modern History) and the Courtauld Institute (MA in 19th century French and British painting). She completed her PhD, ‘French painters in Rome, 1815–1863’ in 2001, and has taught for numerous institutions including Birkbeck College, Sotheby’s Institute, Newcastle University, Oxford University and the OU. Publications include articles and exhibition catalogues on academic and Orientalist art. She was head of the Art Department at Morley College until 2014, and for the last few years has been a course director at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where she organises courses and gives lectures on the history of European art.

Kathleen McLauchlan teaches courses on 19th century European art.


En Plein Aire - Homer

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