Australia - Victoria
Explore the world in illustrated public lectures hosted by Australia Studying Abroad, including Garden lectures by John Patrick (Gardens, Art & Fall Foliage in the USA) and Jim Fogarty (Japanese influences in Garden Design). Other topics explore art, history, culture, archeology and architecture.

ASA Lecture Series – Melbourne




Venue: Theatre, Lauriston Girls’ School, 38 Huntingtower Road, Armadale 3143.

For all lectures, places are limited and people wishing to attend are advised to book well in advance. Each day offers 2 lectures, allowing time for a Q&A session at the conclusion of each lecture.

Bookings: Please book online, or contact ASA on: (03) 9822 6899, Freecall 1800 645755 (outside Melbourne Metro) or email:



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Ancient Kingdoms of Southern India – by Em. Prof Bernard Hoffert

Few buildings anywhere match the spectacle of the temple complexes of the South. Vast enclosures with narrow streets, directing the way to prayer, sadus offering blessings beneath giant gate-towers alive with carved and painted images, idols with throngs of worshippers winding through the temple maze to the sanctuary. South India has long been a bastion of Hinduism, triumphing over Buddhist and Jain teachings and expressing its gods and myths in vast temples covering as much as 150acres. But all faiths have left their legacy in temples and towns built by the great dynasties which supported them. South India records the history of faith and conquest in stone and art, across millenia and this is the story Ancient Kingdoms and Empires of Southern India tells.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Art and Charity in Venice – by Em. Prof Bernard Hoffert

The great Scuole, or charitable institutions of Venice, provided care for the needy and ill, looked after the interests of different crafts and professions, found jobs for foreign workers and supported communities from abroad. Their contribution underpinned the great financial success of the Republic and allowed merchants and artisans, excluded from government since the 13th century, to contribute to the development and status of the city. In doing so they commissioned the great artists of the day to decorate and embellish their meeting halls and churches; Tintoretto, Bellini, Carpaccio, Tiepolo, Lazzarini, Mansueti and others all created masterpieces to express their influence and deeds. This lecture focuses on the contribution of the Scuole and their art with particular attention to the Scuola Grande de San Rocco and its masterpieces by Tintoretto.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm – by Dr Christopher Gribbon

– The Tale of Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia –

The Roman Emperor Diocletian (ruled AD 284-305) brought the Empire back from the brink of collapse, introduced financial and administrative reforms and oversaw one of the largest persecutions of Christians. But after two decades in the top job, he’d had enough. So he built himself a retirement home fit for an emperor – an immense palace, at a beautiful spot on the Adriatic coast, with monumental architecture in the latest style.

Three hundred years later, most of the Roman Empire had fallen to invaders. Refugees from the “barbarians” sought shelter in what had been Diocletian’s palace. Within the palace buildings, they created a thriving new town, which became the important port of Split (now in Croatia) and was subsequently fought over by Byzantines, Venetians and Hungarians, among others.
Join Dr Christopher Gribbin as he explores this fascinating site, where much of Diocletian’s palace is still preserved, side-by-side with mediaeval homes, churches and palaces.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm – by Em. Prof Frank Sear

– Mosaics of Norman Sicily –

After Palermo was conquered by Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger de Hauteville in 1072 it became a royal capital which flourished under successive Norman kings as a centre of enlightenment and toleration. Many of the most beautiful monuments of the city and its surroundings date from this period, when architectural and decorative elements from eastern and western cultures were adopted and combined. In particular glorious, glittering mosaics were used to adorn churches, chapels and royal apartments. This lecture will explore the extraordinary and rich mosaic decoration of Norman Sicily found at Monreale, Cefalu and in Palermo.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm – by Iain Shearer

– Persepolis: Imperial power, colour, decoration and sculpture –

“All the World’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” William Shakespeare ‘As You Like it’ Act II Scene VII
An aphorism that Darius the Great instinctively understood 2000 years before Shakespeare wrote a truth that is today but a misunderstood newspaper cliche. After seizing the Achaemenid throne and largest land empire of the ancient world in 521 BC, under somewhat murky circumstances, the new King of Kings began construction of an imperial capital befitting the glory of the Chosen of Ahura Mazda. This lecture will examine the inherent theatricality of Darius’s palace-city of Persepolis – added to by all his successors until the site’s destruction in 329 BC at the hands of Alexander the Great. The glorious utilisation of sculpture, colour and luxury at Persepolis was designed to convey the Achaemenid’s own sense of themselves as saviours of the world and this lecture will bring some of their unseen splendour back to vivid life.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm – by Dr Alex McKay

– Kyrgyzstan: The Silk Road between the Pamirs and the Tien Shan –

While Kyrgyzstan is one of the most mountainous countries on earth, its fertile valleys were an important part of the ancient Silk Road. The Fergana valley was especially renowned in early China for its “Heavenly Horses” and since gaining its independence from the USSR in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has become central Asia’s only democracy. Learn about the history, culture and natural beauty of this spectacular land.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Gardens, Art & Fall Foliage in the USA – by John Patrick

This talk explores the blending of gardens with art that is such a characteristic element of garden design. Modernist designers in the years immediately after the Second World War contributed strongly to this tradition, none more so than the famed fabric designer Jack Lennor Larsen who in his garden in the Hamptons displays an ever changing and always exciting collection of sculpture. Past participants have been thrilled to see that Jack’s garden approach extends into his house where ceramics by leading twentieth century ceramicists including Lucie Rie and Hans Coper are part of the house’s remarkable decoration. Russell Wright’s Manitoga was revolutionary in its day and today shows a collection of his domestic wares. Outside the old quarry that his home is perched against is the setting for experimental contemporary art displays. Wright and Larsen may not be familiar names to all but the Rockefeller name brings immediate recognition. Nelson Rockefeller loved sculpture more than almost any other art. His collection transformed the garden at Kykuit acting as an exemplar for inclusion of sculpture in a garden setting.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Drawing on Japanese influences in Garden Design – by Jim Fogarty

The earliest recorded Japanese gardens were created for recreation and aesthetic pleasure and are mentioned briefly in the first chronicle of Japanese history, published in 720 AD. However it is the more widely known gardens of Buddhist temples, designed for contemplation and meditation, that have captured the minds of gardeners the world over. In this presentation we will explore the core garden design principals of entrance & enclosure, the principals of Feng Shui & the Zen ideology of viewing a garden and the psychology of designing for flow and movement through a garden. Importantly we will explore the potential of how you can adapt these nuances into your own garden design.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

The Mysteries of Paris: An urban landscape of dream and desire – by Prof. Chris McAuliffe

While Paris is famed as the City of Light, many artists and writers have preferred to explore its darker corners. For romantics, surrealists and radical bohemians, Paris is a city of mysteries, dreams and uncanny experiences. In the mid-nineteenth century, the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire wrote of the flâneur, the urban drifter spying on the rough drama of street life. By the 1930s, surrealists wandered arcades and backstreets in the hope that chance encounters might reveal the le merveilleux quotidien — strange and marvellous irruptions of the unconscious in daily life. After World War II, this Freudian poetics of the streets was recast as ‘psychogeography’ by the Situationist movement. No longer merely an architectural or geographical space, Paris was mapped as a landscape of psychic intensities and navigated by playful, drifting bohemians. In all of this, artists and poets sought the secret life of Paris; its forgotten quarters, its nocturnal life, its irrational and unpredictable character. This lecture will explore Paris’ subconscious, guided by some of the city’s most challenging artists.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

An Englishman’s home is a Welsh castle – by Richard Heathcote

This talk explores the uses that castles served both for suppressing the Welsh and in dominating the landscape as the homes of various nobility through the ages. You will hear about Powys, Prince Charles’ favourite castle where he has his own bedroom, and Caernavon where he was crowned Prince of Wales. Penryn, on the other hand, was the home of the Kings of the slate industry who exported to the world and with proceeds built a modern castle for their home. Gwydir reveals its owner’s romantic restoration journey from a ruined heap to lovingly restored medieval castle.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Bulgaria: Treasure house of the Balkans – by Iain Shearer

Bulgaria’s 20th century was both bleak and bloody and this has obscured a western understanding of the glorious culture that emanated from this centre of civilisation for 2 over millennia. One of the wealthiest of Roman provinces and a heartland of the later Byzantines, both Latin and Greek-speaking imperial powers absorbed the earlier culture of Thrace and Greek colonies that respectively occupied the mountainous interior and Black Sea coast. This lecture will link the early history of Bulgaria through the rise of Orthodox Christian medieval kingdoms, to the modern era, revealing a cornucopia of cultural treasures.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Algeria and the M’zab Valley: Pearl of the Maghreb – by Iain Shearer

A hidden valley-sanctuary for a persecuted sect located in the deep Sahara of central Algeria, the M’Zab valley holds 5 fortress towns that until the beginning of the 20th century were entirely closed to outsiders: Islamic Algerians and French Christians alike. Today, the “Moazabites” are a dynamic minority community with a reputation for hard work and strict religious and social custom. This lecture will locate the history of the M’Zab people within the extraordinary mosaic of Algerian history: Numidian Berber kings and one of the wealthiest of all Roman provinces; home of Church Father St Augustine and a dynamic Christian past; Vandals and the end of Imperium; a great Byzantine stronghold of Justinian; jewel of Islamic dynasties, Ottomans, and Barbarossa the Corsair; to Colonial French rule, Albert Camus, and Independence.

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Cost per day is $12.00.

For all lectures, places are limited and people wishing to attend are advised to book well in advance.

Please book online, or contact ASA on: (03) 9822 6899, Freecall 1800 645755 (outside Melbourne Metro) or email:

Venue: Theatre, Lauriston Girls’ School, 38 Huntingtower Road, Armadale 3143.