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THE ART SOCIETY.

The annual exhibition of this society in the Choral Hall was formally declared open on Friday night. The President (Mr Hodgkins) remarked that the society had attained their majority, having been formed in 1870. Commencing with eight or ten members, they now had a membership roll of 190, of whom 140 were working members. They were the owners of pictures and other works of art that were valued at £I,OOO. All theso were shown gratuitously to the public in an annexe to the Museum, the erection of the building being entirely due to the efforts of the members of the society. The society were not only free from debt, but possessed a substantial credit bank balance. He could fairly congratulate'the members on their present position, and expressed the hope that at the end of the next twenty-one years their progress might bo even more pronounced than now. He made feeling reference to the loss which during the past year art in England had sustained in the death of Sir John Gilbert (president of the Uoyal Society of Water Color Artists), and in this colony of Mr T. S. Cousins, who was for several years an honored contributor to their annual exhibitions. In an adjoining room was a selection from Mr Cousins’s outdoor sketches and studies, to which he (the president) drew the earnest attention of members for the fine example they offered of honest and faithful work. In this connection ho said that the Council felt greatly indebted to those ladies and gentlemen who, by the loan of many valuable works of art by European artists of note contributed so much to the importance of this exhibition. The Council had borrowed these line works in order th at the members might have an opportunity of studying the methods of the various distinguished artists by whom they have been executed, and they trusted that the exhibition of these particular pictures would haveabenehcial effect on the future style and work of local artists. During the year the Council, being impressed with the importance of directing the members’ attention to study in • branches of art other than mere picture painting, decided to, offer the society’s silver medal for competition on the following subjects, and with the following result For the best landscape, Mr A. S. Wood; for the best flower subject,, Miss Ella Adams; for the best set of drawings in black and white suitable for book illustration, Mr J. F. Scott; for the best design for a wall paper based on New Zealand foliage, Mr D. Hutton, jun.— (Applause.) No award was made in the figure competition, the example submitted not being considered of sufficient merit. During this year also the Council invited the masters of the various Government schools of design to submit for public inspection examples of decorative work done, by the students of their respective schools. That invitation was at once and warmly accepted by Mr Pviley, the director of the Wellington School of Design, and Mr Elliott, of the Canterbury School of Art. In a side room would be found a series of designs which were in every way creditable, alike to masters and pupils. Of the importance of encouraging the study of this branch of art there could be no manner of doubt. It was perfectly clear from the examples shown on the walls that the art students of this colony were just as capable of turning out good work as the students of the English schools, specimens of whose work are at present being shown in Dunedin. So far as Dunedin was concerned, it was to be regretted that the teaching of decorative design should have been neglected, and the Council of this society express their earnest hope that the authorities in charge would insist that the students of the local school should in future be taught the principles of this very important branch of practical art. The Committee of the Manufacturers’ Association, and, above all, the Technical Classes Association,had it in their power to do much in this direction, and for their own sake they ought not to allow Dunedin, which prided herself on being in the van of commercial and manufacturing progress, to be longer without so necessary an aid to practical art education. As an instance of the good this branch of art training was doing in Christchurch, he was informed on the best authority that many of .the beautiful designs in tile work and linoleum shown in the examples exhibited had been sent to England for reproduction, and were now selling largely in the colony.— (Applause.) Surely this should be incentive enough to those who wished to see our artisan youth advance. In this connection he noticed that the Premier had introduced a Bill dealing with technical education. He could only say that Mr Seddon had his heartiest sympathy and food wishes in the movement he was initiating, le earnestly hoped, not only that .the Premiers measure would pass into law, but that it would be far-reaching and comprehensive in its details, and that in course of time wo shall have in each centre of population a school devoted to the training of our youth in all the principles of practical art. He usually concluded his remarks on these occasions by urging his audience to subscribe to the society’s art union. He would dc so again. It largely benefited those who exhibit and rendered the acquisition of pictures easy. The tickets were within the means of all, and the object was a genuine and good one. The Hon. W. D. Stewart had listened with very great pleasure to the remarks of the, president. In the colony there was perhaps a tendency to neglect apt, and be was sure they were all

greatly indebted to the Art Society, and especially to the president and Dr Scott, and a number of others, for cultivating a taste for the fine arts. The utility and benefit of the technical classes, to which Mr Hodgkins had referred, might be extended if the authorities paid some attention to teaching decorative art. There was no ques* tion that in this colony, which was bound to be dependent on its manufactures for Its development and progress, it would be extremely beneficial if we had a growing number of artiste who could design and improve the tastes of the people in manufactures. He .was very much pleased to find that already something had been •done-in-that direction; but he hoped that the Government, while they dealt with the more prac* tical work of life, would give prominence to the cultivation of a taste for .fine art. The Education Board might very well pay attention to this in the School of Design, the work of which might be greatly extended. This part of the colony seemed to be somewhat behind the other centres of population’in regard to art, but he hoped that would cease to be,/and that the Government, in their expenditure of money on education, would gue some attention to this branch of knowledge. He concluded by expressing a hope that the society would continue to prosper.—(Applause.)

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971108.2.4

Bibliographic details

THE ART SOCIETY., Evening Star, Issue 10465, 8 November 1897

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1,188

THE ART SOCIETY. Evening Star, Issue 10465, 8 November 1897

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