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The Free School of Art.

PRESENTATION OF PRIZES.

The first annual presentation of prizes in connection with the Free School of Art took place last night in the Council room of the Museum buildings in the presence of a largo number of ladies and gentlemen. The prize drawings mounted on easels were distributed on the lower floor of the building, and befoie tho ceremonial of the evening commenced attracted considerable attention. Shortly after 8 o'clock Dr. Campbell (Founder of the School) entered the room, and delivered the following address :—" Students of the Free School of Art, ladies and gentlemen,—l have great pleasure in meeting you in this room on the f resent occasion, and can assure you that accept your presence as a high compUment to my endeavour to found a School of Design in this city. I say so, because I am addressing those who have not been drawn within these walls by _ the mere attraction of a novelty for the time being, but who have proved by-their steady and persevering attendance that the School of Art Free Class has been accepted by you, as I hoped it would be, as the first step in the cultivation of more artistic aspirations, which lead to true refinement of character, elevating private life, and ultimately exaltiug a people. In these young colonies, where self-reliance is so much called upon in the performance of the everyday duties of life, and Where these absorb so large a proportion of your time, it requires no inconsiderable effort to refrain from accepting these duties as paramount, allowing them to become all-absorbent, and thus the ideal, the intellectual, and artistic feelings are relegated to an unknown future, from which they may never be revivified into a Irnit-bearing existence. It would be out of place and out of character for me, on the present occasion, to weary you with any long dissertation on the value of Art, and, moreover, you have already had a most valuable address made to you by Mr Albin Martin, worthy of your most serious attention as well as your gratitude Suffice it for the present for me merely to say, that Art is acknowledged throughout the world as the one great source of refinement and moral elevation, and to tempt you along the path you havo every reason to rejoice that you live in so fair a land, which invokes you in the most entreating language to become votaries to Art. Where could nature more prodigally sunouud yon with the beautiful in scenery— where in the loveliness of her bright sky and clear atmosphere—where more gorgeous colouring in land and sea—where lovelier forests of evergreen foliage, from smallest shrub to giant trees 1 Everywhere nature speaks home to the imagination, luring on the votary to art with the most seductive stores of beauty spread befoie him... If theso have not moved you, in vain, I fear, any words of mine, only penetrating the car. No more can you hearalandscape and see a tune, than be moved to the lovo of painting if the eye delights not to dwell on the beauty of colour and of outlines, nor can yon be enraptured with a Mozart or Mendelsohn symphony if the ear cannot appre. ciate melody. Let me entreat you to go on with the great work which you have begun, and it may perchance result that this free class will awaken in some minds poetic and picturesque imaginings hitherto dormant, and these taking root may flourish and hereafter bring forth a reward to this community of some accomplished artists of whom we shall be justly proud. _ And furthermore, is it not a good and desirable thing that we should have in our midst the fact practically brought home to us by such evidence as this School of Art, that there are aims in life other than mere moneymaking—other than mere sensuous enjoyments, and that the devotion of the mind in an artistic direction is not incompatible with the everyday drudgeries of life. Surely it is a mistake to live always in the dry prose of existence. Let us have some admixture of the poetic vein to enliven and «heer the way as we travel along—it costs » little and gives us so much. Is it not ever and again, to throw a page of "Arabian Nights "into our life to brighten }*■ a but ever so little, with a gloam of irnagta-y. Let us—like the Eastern pedlar vendiig his wares—combine the practical ' witn fte poetic, for he cries not only his wares'bVt at the same time chaunts poetry. ListeaKiw while catering to your creature comforts^ a i ßo ministers to your, imagination— " S{,i n g hlnsh of the mountain sides —wild stravberries!" And how cries the merchant bis watermelons—" Consoler ot tie thirsty-4ip S ," as the hot sun beats down upon hij head, and no fountain near at hand—he has a care not to take his stand at one. " God makes them light—limes !" not that the crier means these shall be so in the digestive organs of his purchasers, but w their purses, and he shall be the recipient therefrom. And what more significantly true, as you p MS the bookseller's . stall, than to hear falling dreamily on the ear " Cobwebs and fable—history ?" These are cries which .could only emanate from a highly cultivated and imaginative

I people. Wo are only on the first step of the I ladder which will lead us to a like poetic I and intellectual height—aud Art is that step. You have put your foot firmly and I bravely down, and don't be discouraged I because some soulless beings discordantly cry, " Free School of Art class—humbug I" There is small sense in that, and most assuredly—no poetry ! And it is contradicted in the ready response which this community has given to the invitation which was made to it by the giand collection of the copies from the antique in I statuary now eagerly visited in the hall I below. Everything must have a beginning. In due course of time we shall see these walls become clothed with paintings ; and with the opportunity to learn, our ideas will become enlarged, taste will become cultivated, refinement assert its sway; the love of the JJeautiful, when once engendered, will never die away, but will surely lead to that day when the painter, the sculptor, and the poet shall have their places in our midst, and their reward secured through local appreciation. Let us at all events cherish the hope that this future will be realised; and though our efforts to this end may appear puny and insignificant, still let us hope the good seed has been sown, and that the harvest will surely follow. Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot conclude without asking to hold in grateful remembrance the name of one, but for whom, in all probability, we should not now be assembled here. For you owe this Free School of Art to the inspiration of my friend the painter and sculptor, Pierce Francis Conuelly. I have asked you to come here to commemorate our first annual presentation of prizes, aud I cau only regret that it is impossible that yon can all be recipients, for the report of your instructor assures me that your industry and perseverance merits the wannest praise. And here I feel it alike n duty, as it is a sincere pleasure, to accord to Mr Watkins my warmest thanks for Ihe manner in which he has accomplished the trust committed by me to his care. The largo assemblage of pupils now present is proof of the complete success of my experiment and of the estimation in which you hold your instructor, and 1 have pleasure iv conveying to him, at your request, your heartfelt appreciation of his efforts to advance you in tlio path of art. It only remains for me now to present the prizes. I hope that the form which I have thought it best these should take may prove agreeable to you, and that you may feel some pleasure in pointing to those awards, modest though they bo, ami of little value, save as representing tho position yon attained in the Auckland Free School of Art class, IS7l>, anil as a remembrance of the hours spent, I trust happily, within these walls. It is very gratifying that we have resideut amongst us a citizen with a hand so skilled as to be able to produce this little work of art, and that we do not require to go beyoud our own door for Its production. The prizes,which consisted of silvermedals handsomely engraved and suitably inscribed by Mr Teutenberg, were then presented. The names of the recipients arc as follow : —Highest class (study from the statue) -. First prize, Miss Rosa Brown ; seeoudprize, Miss Helen Stuart. Second class (study from tbe bust) : Miss Constance Home and Miss Cheesemcn. Third class : (study from the Hat): Miss F. White. Mr Kennett Watkins, the instructor, was also presented with n medal commemorative of the first year's work.

After the medals had been duly presented Miss Helen Stuart, accompanied by throe other young ladies, advanced toward the doctor and read the following address:— " To John Logan Campbell, Esq. : We, the undersigned student* of the Free School of Art, hold at the Museum, Auckland, wish to convoy to you our senso of the public spirit and liberality which you have displayed in furthering the cause of art in New Zealand ; and we especially tender you our thanks for the handsome manner in which you have, at your own expense, established a school for that purpose in this city, an institution which, affording as it does facilities for the study of the antique, never before available in this province, cannot fail to render important service to the art movement now attaining so wide-spread a development both at home and in the colonies, and we request you to accept the accompanying inkstand and pair of candlesticks as a trilling mark of our appreciation of what you have done.—(Signed,) Katriuu Schnackenberg, Constance Home, M. W. Home, Josephine Cheeseman, Emily Longdill, Kate Bishop, 11. E. Plumley, M. Adams, Percy Smallfield, P. S. for Samuel Stuart, and George Sturtevant, jun., G. W. Bradshaw, Kate Keesing, Rose Keesing, E. Keesing, Helen Stuart, Louise White, Kate White, Jeannie Isaacs, Fanny E. White. Dr. Campbell acknowledged the presentation in these words : "I return you my sincere thanks for this elegaut present, which, I need hardly say, was totally unexpected by me. I assure you my reward was not the anticipation of any such gift as this, but in the feeling that I havo afforded not only pleasure, but done some good to the pupils for whom this school wasfounded." The assemblage then dispersed. Both ink-stand and candlesticks were purchased at the jewellery establishment of Messrs Kolm Bros. They are very handsome specimens of tho silversmith's art.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS18791220.2.27

Bibliographic details

Auckland Star, Auckland Star, Volume X, Issue 3019, 20 December 1879

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1,816

The Free School of Art. Auckland Star, Volume X, Issue 3019, 20 December 1879

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