South Australian Society of Arts

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The South Australian Society of Arts was a society for artists in South Australia, later The Royal South Australian Society of Arts.

History[edit]

The Society was formed as a result of a meeting called for 10 December 1856 at Charles Hill's School of Arts (which was also his home) in Pulteney Street, Adelaide.[1] Owing to inclement weather, only five people turned up to that meeting: Hill, James Macgeorge, W. W. R. Whitridge, David Culley (a gilder and framer) and one Blenkinsop.

From the outset, the board of the Society consisted of a President, who was always the Governor of the day, several Vice-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and a committee of twelve. From 1883 both the Society of Arts and the Philosophical Society were affiliated by Act of Parliament to the Public Library, Museum, and Art Gallery of South Australia and had the right to nominate one member each to be Gazetted to the Libraries Board.

Membership of the Society consisted mainly of dilettante art enthusiasts keen to promote South Australian art rather than working artists, and its activities centred on the running of art unions and exhibitions, and foundation of South Australia's School of Arts and the South Australian Art Gallery. Attendance at meetings, though initially strong, became spasmodic and the work of the Society largely devolved onto Abraham Abrahams (ca.1812 – 3 April 1892), the Society's Secretary from 1866 to 1885.

In April 1887 the South Australian Society of Artists, largely associated with the old South Australian School of Design (the school underwent a bewildering succession of names and functions over the next hundred years), was formed with the express purpose of securing an exhibition space for local artists in the Jubilee Exhibition, held later that year. A. Abrahams, James Ashton, J. W. Billiatt, A. S. Broad, H. Clayton, J. L. Davidson, F. W. Davis, S. V. Fizey, Leonard D. Garlick, H. D. Gell, W. K. Gold, E. Govett, George Greer, J. Hammer, G. C. Hawker, C. Hill, P. Hoare, John Hood, W. R. Hunt, James Irving, A. L. Jessop, W. J. Kennedy, T. H. Lyons, A. MacCormac, M. H. Madge, A. Marval, A. Molten, D. Murray, Poole, R. Rees, Reid, G. A. Reynolds, H. Scott, J. Shakespeare, S. J. Skipper, S. Solomon, W. J. Sowden, L. Tannert, W. Wadham, Samuel Way, W. A. E. West-Erskine, J. White and W. Wivell were among its members,[2] and quickly merged with the Society of Arts, having accomplished its ends.

In 1892 a group of disgruntled members left to form the Adelaide Easel Club, and around the same time the Society enjoyed a resurgence of activity. The Library Board granted it top-lit rooms with plenty of hanging space in the Institute Building on North Terrace and members were given keys, meaning the rooms were in almost constant use. Non-members were encouraged to submit works so that exhibitions were representative of South Australian artists not merely members.[3]

In 1927 Fred C. Britton, retiring principal of the North Adelaide School of Fine Arts, and Henry Van Raalte were critical of amateur members who wanted to paint without bothering to learn sketching.[4]

In 1935 the Society's Patron, King George V, authorized the Society to be renamed the Royal South Australian Society of Arts.

In 1942 a breakaway group formed the South Australian chapter of the Contemporary Art Society to promote non-realist forms of art.

Office holders[edit]

President

(became Royal South Australian Society of Arts 1935)

Secretary

Melrose Prize[edit]

Named for Alex Melrose (1865–1944), chairman of trustees of the Art Gallery of South Australia, the prize for portraiture was instituted in 1921[8] as a ₤25 prize awarded annually, then ₤100 awarded triennially from 1949. Prizewinners included:[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "School of Art". Adelaide Observer. 11 October 1856. p. 1 Supplement: Supplement to the Adelaide Observer. Retrieved 4 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "An Artists' Association in Adelaide". South Australian Weekly Chronicle. Adelaide. 23 April 1887. p. 7. Retrieved 6 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "South Australian Society of Arts". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 21 July 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 4 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Mr. Van Raalte and the Society of Arts". The Register. Adelaide. 6 December 1923. p. 10. Retrieved 17 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Death of Mr. W. K. Gold". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 18 February 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 27 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Mr. S. H. James". The Chronicle. Adelaide. 23 April 1931. p. 23. Retrieved 27 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Death Of Mr. H. E. Powell". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 2 September 1940. p. 14. Retrieved 27 February 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Society of Arts". Daily Herald. XII, (3621). Adelaide. 26 October 1921. p. 6. Retrieved 7 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ McCulloch, Alan Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Hutchinson of London 1968
  10. ^ "Concerning People". The Register. LXXXVI, (25, 246). Adelaide. 25 November 1921. p. 6. Retrieved 7 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "Society of Arts Award". The Register News-Pictorial. XCV, (27, 805). South Australia. 26 September 1930. p. 8. Retrieved 7 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.