Art Historian, Writer, Critic.
By the mid 1920s feeling was growing among professional
that in the exhibitions of the established societies their work was not being given
due space and respect. Local societies had grown so much, with art schools, especially
the government art school in the old gaol at East Sydney
Technical College, producing more and more artists to make their bid for professional
status; and it was increasingly felt that the delicate, subtle qualities of watercolour were being overlooked, were being shouted
down by the presence of larger, more aggressive oil paintings. The need was felt
for the establishment of a society devoted to watercolour
Australia, something similar
to the Royal Watercolour Society, founded in
in 1804, and the American Watercolor Society, which dates back to 1867.
In August 1923, six established watercolourists
met together at
50 Young Street,
Sydney, with the aim of forming a society
to promote the art
of painting watercolour in
. They were B. E. Minns, A. J.
Daplyn, C. E. S. Tindall,
Martin Stainforth, J. H. Bennett, and the sixty-year-old
redoubtable battler A. H. Fullwood, who had been militant
in the formation of the rebel Society of Artists years before.
B. E. Minns was well known
as a black-and-white Bulletin artist and for his accomplished watercolours
and landscapes, harbourscapes and figure paintings, especially
of aborigines, whom he depicted with sympathetic good humour.
Stainforth specialised in
the painting of horses, and Tindall in depicting ships
and the sea. The other three were chiefly landscape painters, although
Fullwood was particularly happy in the rendering of busy street scenes.
All were primarily concerned with asserting the status of watercolour.
The six men formed a committee, and each member paid one
guinea membership fee. The seventy-nine-year-old Daplyn,
who had instructed many of
’s practising watercolourists,
was elected Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.
At a second meeting in September, attended also by John
Tristram, and at which M. J. McNally of Melbourne was
admitted as a member, the title
Institute, proposed by Fullwood, was adopted by the
society. B. E. Minns was elected Chairman, and he served
conscientiously in the office of President until his death in 1937. Hans
Heysen, Blamire Young, Arthur
Streeton, John D. Moore, Norman Lindsay, John Eldershaw,
Albert Collins and Sydney Long were invited to become foundation members.
The first exhibition of the Australian
was opened on 25 March 1924, at Anthony Hordern’s
Gallery, by His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Admiral Sir Dudley de
Chair. Of the fourteen invited members, eleven exhibited and they were joined by
thirty-two non-members. The exhibition was well patronised
and sales were sufficient to make the new society feel it had struck a blow in the
cause of watercolour.
Early in 1925, Daplyn resigned
as Secretary and the position was taken over by Gladys Owen who, along with Maude
Sherwood, Rah Fizelle and Llewellyn Jones of
, had just been elected a member. Vida Lahey
and Kenneth MacQueen of
, Napier Waller and Septimus Power of Victoria,
and Fred Leist, just returned from abroad, all became
members in 1926. A definite effort was being made to bring together outstanding
talent in watercolour from all over
, and to maintain a high standard. To obtain membership, a
watercolourist had to be nominated and then elected
by vote of the Council.
For the 1926 exhibition, held at the Education Department
, in February-March, Basil Burdett, a partner in the newly-established
Macquarie Galleries in
, was announced manager. On the retirement of Gladys Owen in April,
Burdett took over the secretaryship.
With a strong membership representing most states, firmly
established on a business-like basis, the annual exhibition of the Australian Watercolour Institute took its place as one of the important
events of the
art calendar. Membership maintained a steady growth, controlled by the vote of the
committee, and in the main its selectivity achieved status value. The majority of
important Australian watercolourists have at some time
exhibited with the Institute, even if they have not become members or have abandoned
their membership after a brief period: Gerald Fitzgerald, J. Muir Auld, Tom Garrett,
, Dattilo-Rubbo, Douglas
Boxall, John Rowell, John Passmore,
Arthur Murch and Eric Wilson have all been exhibitors.
This did much to enhance the standard of the annual exhibitions.
It was, however, the constant of such artists as B. E. Minns,
G. K. Townshend, John Eldershaw, Rah
Fizelle, Norman Lindsay, Margaret Coen, Fred
Leist, Vida Lahey, Hector
Gilliland, Enid Cambridge, Flora Jarrett, Eileen Berndt, Lorna
Nimmo, George Duncan, Ronald Stewart and Ralph Malcolm Warner that provided
the solid nucleus of the society over more than half a century. Although some invitees,
like Thea Proctor and Hans Heysen
did not become members of the Institute, they exhibited occasionally in the early
John Eldershaw, the youngest
founding member, holds the record as the longest exhibiting member. An
almost constant exhibitor, and
President from 1945 to 1948, he had participated in nearly fifty exhibitions before
his death in 1973. Eldershaw’s presidency succeeded
that of J.W. Maund’s, a solicitor and connoisseur and
a tremendously enthusiastic, fluent amateur who took over the post after the death
of Minns. Johnnie Maund
was a passionate patron of art, frequented artists’ and sketch clubs, and for years
gave all his leisure time to the pursuit of his hobby. He also served as a Trustee
of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His watercolours
reflect his love of the medium and of nature, and examples are to be seen in the
New South Wales
and Hinton collections.
Eldershaw was followed
in the presidency by Rah Fizelle (1948 to 1951), and the
stimulus provided by these two highly respected watercolourists
invigorated the society, bringing in a number of new members who were more adventurous
in their approach. They reaffirmed the special aesthetic of the medium, a revival
engendered much by the influence of the British watercolourists;
Tonks, Steer, and the Nash brothers; and the watercolourists of the New English Art Club, Frank and
Muriel Medworth, Hal Missingham,
Frank Hinder, Weaver Hawkins, Eric Thake, Hector Gilliland
and Jean Isherwood were among new members whose work gave interest and vitality
to the annual exhibitions. Also influential was the small group of new romantics;
Carington Smith, Robert Campbell, Frank McNamara and
H. W. Grace, an amateur artist who served the Institute
as Secretary for several years, filled the presidential chair from 1951 to 52, when
Hal Missingham was elected (1952 to 55).
Missingham, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was noted
as a swift and witty draughtsman, and as an accomplished photographer and writer,
as well as a watercolourist of crisp lucidity. Lorna
Nimmo, the only woman President (1955 to 58). George Duncan
(1958 to 64) and Brian Stratton (1964 to 72) were succeeded by Frederic Bates.
The Australian Watercolour
Institute took its role as champion of watercolour very
seriously. In 1930 in the foreword to the annual exhibition catalogue, a students’
exhibition was announced:
‘The urgent and increasing need for some Art Tribunal
in this country to foster and increase the popularity of watercolour
painting has been fully recognised by the Council of
the Australian Watercolour Institute. During the last
twelve months the Institute has been diligently pursuing its efforts to this end
and the Competition, open to all recognised Art Schools
in Landscape, Figure and Decorative drawing or Design for a Mural, for prizes donated
by the Council, has met with a most gratifying response. The quality of the entries
submitted reveals the amazing strides made in the practice of this delightful medium,
giving a comfortable feeling that the future of watercolour
painting in Australia is assured and that ensuing exhibitions of the Institute will
be graced by the works of these capable and thoughtful young students.’
The competitions continued for four years. Students competing
came mainly from the
School; and in 1933 there was also a group
In 1930, the figure subject was awarded to Joan Morrison,
the decoration prize to Roslyn Edkins and the landscape
prize to Eric Wilson. Eric Wilson was a very talented young artist, who produced
a notable series of wash drawings of the streets of
during his study period in
in the 1930s. Later he taught at the
and exhibited with the Contemporary Group. Although he produced some fine and distinctive
work, his distinguished career was cut short by his death at the age of thirty-five.
In 1931 there was no award for figure; Francis Sherwood
received the landscape award; and Gwynneth Stone and
Rex Julius being highly commended.
There can be no doubt that these small prizes, although
they were abandoned in 1934, acted as a stimulus to students, providing specific
encouragement and recognition for young artists in the use of the medium.
The Australian Watercolour
Institute was well supported in the 1920s and into the 1930s, although sales were,
of course, affected by the Depression, which was a shattering setback to art all
. Few of the commercial galleries were able to survive, and
many artists were driven to find work of any kind wherever they could.
Until the resignation in 1939 of Kenneth Wilkinson from
the position of art critic with the Sydney Morning Herald, the most consistent and
respected of local reviewing columns, considerable space was allotted to the Institute
exhibitions, which on the whole were sympathetically treated. Warnings were sounded
from time to time against traditional conservatism becoming ‘fusty and moth-eaten’,
and new blood, from the Contemporary Group, was welcomed ‘ Grace
Cossington-Smith with her clamorous but stimulating colour harmonies
and complex patterns’, Albert Collins, Fizelle, MacQueen, Enid Cambridge, Maude Sherwood. But praise was
also accorded accomplished traditional work.
The sympathies of Peter Bellew
and Paul Haefliger, who followed Wilkinson as critics
for the Sydney Morning Herald, were wholly with the avant-garde, and this bias appears
with varying degrees of condemnation from 1941 to 1957, as their comments show:
‘A rather academic institution, but actuated by a sense
of its former shortcomings, the society has almost for the first time allowed a
certain element of excitement, even daring, on its walls’ (1947).
‘Vagueness and elaboration dominate the exhibition’ (1948).
‘There may be different methods of approach among the
exhibitors with the AWI ranging from ‘modern’, from the flamboyant to the undefined
but with few exceptions art here is on a starvation diet’ (1949).
‘For 26 years the AWI has laboured;
slight changes have taken place; the demi-gods have
fallen, an inevitable fate’, twentieth ‘the neutrality of indifferent
It is significant that the Watercolour
Institute records a falling-off of support at this time. Fewer non-members sent
work; shows were no doubt weaker; the press notices, scathing in their references
to the traditional watercolourist, added to the already
existing uncertainties of the purpose of art, a questioning of the very validity
of the medium as a means of expression. The older artists were frustrated, shaken
or bitter; the younger ones were carried away or confused by the onrush of rapidly
In 1954 Paul Haefliger could
write with some truth of the annual Australian Watercolour
Institute exhibition: ‘One has seen it coming for years; the twentieth century
has gained ascendancy over the Australian Watercolour
Institute; the Institute has nearly lost the flavour
great tradition of naturalism practised by
our forefathers, and discovered Cezanne’. He praised those artists showing the influence
of ‘the spirit of our time’, especially ‘the valiant group’ of abstract painters,
which included Margo Lewers, Frank Hinder, Rosamond
McCulloch, Roy Fluke, Gordon McAuslan and above all,
Carl Plate, referred to as ‘the Australian Braque’. At about the same time Herbert
Read was writing of current international developments in watercolour:‘
; the art has lost what gave it its distinctive aesthetic; its desire to render
the subtlest effects of atmosphere; but what it has lost in subtlety, it has gained
Abstraction, especially Lyrical Abstraction, abstraction
based on philosophic concepts, and Abstract Expressionism, were the dominant developments
in watercolour painting for the next two decades. The
possibilities of the medium in this area of nebulous suggestion and passionate evocation
of idea and motion attracted many of the new generation of artists, both within
and without the Watercolour Institute. Many of this
new generation lost nothing in subtlety, finding in the intrinsic qualities of the
medium their greatest strength.
James Gleeson, writing of watercolour
in 1963, referred to ‘the crises, decline and partial recovery that has occurred
within the medium since 1923’.
‘Most of us who are past forty still tend to think of
watercolour as a technique in which pigment is laid
on paper in transparent washes so that the white ground shows through the film of
colour and provides the desired luminosity. The qualities of freshness and directness;
impossible to disturb without producing undesirable muddiness; the immediate
statement; are the qualities inherent in the medium. The main currents of art in
our time have led away from the objective approach. We are spinning in the rapids
and whirlpools of subjectiveness. The only measuring
rod is the artist’s aesthetic instinct. And he gave the warning: ‘Technical brilliance
is not to be confused with creative art.’ These critical comments are relevant in
tracing the fortunes of the Australian Watercolour Institute,
which continues to survive.
From the 1940s on, an ever-increasing number of art prizes
with a special category for watercolour appeared. These
provided stimulus, publicity and demand for the watercolourist,
but there was still an irritating awareness of the discrepancy in evaluation of
the medium against the more imposing and usually larger oil and the clamorous acrylic.
In his foreword to the catalogue of the Australian Watercolour Institute’s annual exhibition in 1960, George
Duncan, the then President, voiced these feelings:
‘The Institute notes with increased concern that Municipal
Councils and Sponsors of Art Competitions continue to offer lower prizes for watercolour than for oil paintings. After nation-wide
consultation with artists and authorities relating to this discrepancy the UNESCO
Visual Art Committee sent out a strong recommendation that prizes should be non-acquisitive
and should be of equal value without regard to the medium employed.’
This directive had some little effect; a few non-acquisitive
prizes and one or two much more generous prizes for watercolour
were offered. In some instances a far more satisfactory art competition was instituted
by municipal and commercial bodies. This was the purchase award, or, more attractive
still to artists, the invitation purchase award, which guaranteed, as well as the
possibility of purchase for a permanent, probably public, collection, a high standard
of exhibition. In such competitions the artist puts his price on his entry, and
selection is made by a judge or judges for purchase within the proscribed expenditure,
for inclusion in the sponsor’s collection. This supports the artist in his practice
of the medium and ensures that a nucleus of quality watercolours
is acquired by embryo galleries or institutions.
open competition, for any medium with the divisions
modern, very rarely results in a quality watercolour
being chosen for purchase in preference to an inferior
oil. The introduction of acrylic paint, which can be water-soluble and used on paper,
has caused a further complication in categorising awards,
and has led to the use of the phrase
or like medium in relation to both oil and
watercolour categories, the acrylic hovering between
the two sections. Acrylic, water-based on paper, has on several occasions been awarded
a watercolour prize. Art prizes, which have been a controversial
feature of the Australian art scene for the past three decades, have certainly benefited
many watercolourists, several of whom have notched up
as many as fifty awards, chiefly in municipal and country competitions.
To survive and grow, an art society seems to need a home
of its own, a place where members can meet and have contact with one another, where
records can be kept, meetings held, and the business of the society can be conducted;
where perhaps classes can be held, lectures organised,
and a display of members’ work kept on view and available to the public. Probably
the erstwhile powerful, now defunct New South Wales Society of Artists, described
in the 1920s and 1930s as the de facto
of Art, would still be with us if it had had a proper home.
Some of the early societies were fortunate in getting
small government grants, private endowments, and rooms of their own; others, the
more close-knit groups, have managed through the enthusiasm of their members to
acquire a home.
The Australian Watercolour
Institute was homeless until 1974. From its inception meetings have been held in
all sorts of odd spots; cafes, hotels, offices, and commercial galleries; and the
annual Sydney exhibitions have been held at various venues; galleries of the large
department stores (Anthony Hordern’s, Farmers, David
Jones), and most frequently at the Education Department Galleries in Loftus Street.
Although the Institute is centred in
, membership has remained Australia-wide, and work is accepted for exhibition
from all States. Despite difficulties of organisation
and finance, exhibitions have been held from time to time in cities interstate and
in country centres.
The Institute passed its fiftieth anniversary in 1973.
In 1974 it received a Federal grant of $2000 to make possible the rental of rooms
on the first floor of a building in
171 Sussex Street,
Sydney, and also to help with an exchange exhibition with members
of the American Watercolor Society. Paintings from members of the Australian Institute
were shown with the American Watercolor Society’s 108th Annual Exhibition in the
USA, and the American Society
members were included in the Australian fifty-second annual exhibition in
. A further government grant of $1000 made in 1975 was followed by $500
in 1976, a rather pathetic encouragement.
premises of the Australian Watercolour Institute were
open each Sunday afternoon with a small exhibition of members’ work, and in February
1977 watercolour classes were commenced. Conducted first
by Ronald Stewart and carried on by Frederic Bates and Margaret
Coen, the classes proved popular and filled a demand. A clarification
has been undertaken by Cameron Sparks, a member since 1966 and efficient Secretary
from 1973 to 1976, and again in 1978. In 1980 the Institute moved to new premises
811/2 George Street
Recent annual exhibitions of the Australian
Watercolour Institute have been held at the Blaxland
Sydney; an exhibition was sent to
in 1977; and in the same year another successfully toured some
cities. The S. H. Ervin Gallery at Observatory Hill, a most gracious venue, was
made available by the National Trust in 1980 for the annual exhibition.
While there are probably more distinguished artists around
Australia outside the society than within it; artists deeply committed to watercolour, at least as an alternative medium; there
can be no doubt that the Australian Watercolour Institute
has contributed a great deal over more than fifty years to the promotion of watercolour painting in this country. It has provided
exhibition opportunities to younger artists, some of whom no longer need or bother
to support the society, and that invaluable association
with others who are pursuing similar aims, facing similar problems.
Most importantly, the Institute has upheld Herbert Read’s
assertion that watercolour, by the very reason of its
specific materials, has its own distinct aesthetic; it has made a concerted effort
to maintain a high standard of membership. and to bring
watercolours of quality regularly before public notice.
If it is to continue to do this, it will need the support, as it was eagerly given
in the beginning, of all first-rate watercolourists
in the country. Membership must be regarded as an honour.
Its significance in the community must be such as to elicit further government assistance
in providing a worthy home and its own proper exhibition facilities.
The 1920s saw the birth of a number of art groups, banded
together to promote some specific aspect of art: the Painter-Etchers’ Society, the
Australian Society of Black and White Artists, the Australian Institute of Arts
and Literature, the Australian Ex-Libris Society, the
Australian Art Society, the Contemporary Group. Many of these died an early death,
even though at the time they were factors in the development of art in
. Its very survival is proof that the Watercolour
Institute continues to answer a need in the community.
kind permission of Jean Campbell from her book
Australian Watercolour Painters from 1780 to the Present
Day, Craftsman House,1989.
AWI Activities 1960s
BRIAN STRATTON, OAM,
President 1964 to 72,
& 2006 to 2009 Emeritus President and Life Member
When I was elected to membership in 1961, the president
was George Duncan who was also the Director of the David Jones’
and it was in this
store gallery that the Institute had held its annual exhibition for a number of
years. When I became president in 1964 George Duncan had retired from DJ’s and their
gallery was no longer available to art societies. The loss of this central, well-patronised, well-lit display area was to affect the fortunes
of artists and societies for years to come.
The 1960s was a time of change in society generally and
in the art world change was also occurring with the demise of a number of long established
groups. There was the growth of suburban art societies and the proliferation of
private commercial galleries. At the beginning of the decade there were four major
societies emanating from
. They were the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, the Society of
Artists, the Contemporary Art Society of New South Wales, the Australian
Watercolour Institute and to a lesser extent there was a fifth group,
the Australian Art Society. Only the Royal Art Society and the Institute were still
functioning at the end of the decade.
Whilst the reasons for the disbanding of these groups
would be many and varied and would depend on the personalities involved, some of
the contributing factors would have been that some established artists no longer
felt the need to belong to a group when their needs were now being met by private
dealers. Also instrumental was the now lack of suitable space that could hold and
successfully display a large number of works and finally there was the change in
the purchasing policies of the State Galleries and in particular the Art Gallery
of New South Wales.
Prior to the change in the purchasing policy a quorum
of trustees of the Gallery would visit exhibitions on the preview day and have first
pick of the works displayed, also the directors of other State Galleries would visit
the shows with the intention of adding to their collections. This ensured that by
the time the public came the exhibition was off to a flying start with sales well
underway. I can recall the occasion when just before the policy was abandoned, Hector
Gilliland had, from one show, three works purchased by three State Galleries and
whilst this trifecta added greatly to the artist’s reputation
it also added to the status of the Institute and enhanced the standing of the annual
With the loss of the David Jones’ Gallery the Institute
was forced to use the Department of Education Art Gallery on the top floor of the
Education building in
. This gallery had been used by art groups for some decades, but by
1964 it was an antiquated, ill-lit space no longer in a convenient part of town.
It was far from ideal but at that time it was basically the only venue available
to societies. I recall a deputation to the then Minister of Education the Hon. F.
Wetherall to see if we could get improvements made to
the gallery. Representing the societies were Erik Langker of the Royal Art Society, Guy Warren of the Contemporary
Art Society, Lloyd Rees and John Santry from the Society
of Artists and myself from the Institute, but it was to no avail and no improvements
During my time as President the membership remained fairly
constant at something less than 40 members from all states of the Commonwealth.
In 1964 the senior members would have been Max Angus, Janna Bruce, Margaret Coen, Alfred Cook, John Eldershaw,
who was the last surviving foundation member, Rah Fizelle,
Frank Hinder, Margo Lewers, Hal Missingham,
Frank McNamara, Ronald Stewart, G. K. Townshend and all these years later and still
exhibiting regularly are Jean Isherwood, Hector Gilliland and Kenneth Jack.
To gain membership of the Institute has always been difficult
but back in the 60s it was even more so with the split in the art world. A lot of
prejudice existed within the art community. In those days those artists who favoured traditional values in painting gravitated toward
the Royal Art Society and those artists that had modern leanings belonged to the
Contemporary Art Society. The Institute’s membership had reached a stage where it
comprised artists from both camps, plus those in-between, drawn together by their
use and love of the watercolour medium. To be invited
to membership one required members from both groups to vote for you in order to
get the two thirds of votes needed. Whilst artists will always have strong opinions,
happily the prejudices of that period are no longer with us.
One of the first duties I had on becoming President was
to request a senior member to withdraw his resignation. He had submitted it because
at the annual exhibition the figurative works were displayed on one half of the
main hall and the non-figurative ones on the other half with a screen dividing the
two approaches. Fortunately he withdrew his resignation, and it was the only time
that the works were displayed in such a manner. Hanging so many disparate works
in an annual exhibition so that each artist and the exhibition as a whole would
be seen in the best light was never an easy matter and in this regard we relied
on the expertise of Hector Gilliland who in my opinion would have few peers with
his ability to juxtaposition paintings so that they would hang together as a harmonious
Lloyd Rees 1980
To further illustrate the climate that prevailed within
the art world during the 60s I recall the opening of the 1962 or 63 exhibition which
was performed by a noted critic of the day who in his address stated, and I felt
he said it with some pride, that Hans Heysen had not
exhibited in Sydney for a number of years because of what the critics said of his
work. I further recall that on a rare occasion when a Heysen
was shown, another critic dismissed his work by writing that this was the atomic
age and intimating that Heysen’s interpretation of the
Australian landscape was no longer valid. As it should be the artist prevailed,
Hans Heysen occupies a honoured place in the annals of Australian art and critics
who champion only the fashions of the day find their opinions being discarded with
the passage of time. The stylistic passions that dominated the 1960s in the main
no longer exist with artists of the 90s and for as long as I can recall the Institute
has embraced all avenues of expression with the watercolour
As with other groups the Institute experienced lean times
during the 1960s, but things started to improve with the election of the Whitlam
government, when greater interest was taken, more money was spent on the arts and
better venues were found for the display of works, which led to better attendances
and a resultant increase in sales, which in turn made the Institute a more viable
body. Since 1972 my successors, Presidents Frederic Bates, Brian Gaston and Graham
Austin have successfully taken the Institute to the present day.
Like all dynamic groups the Institute has known good times
and bad times. That it has survived since 1923 is a credit to many people who for
the past three-quarters of a century plus, have had a passion for the
AWI Activities 1972 to 85
FREDERIC BATES, OAM, AWS
Emeritus President and Life Member
Members at an exhibition held in conjunction with the
American Watercolor Society in 1975. From left: Kerrie Schnorr,
Fredric Bates (President), Le Roy F.Percival Jr. [from
American Embassy, who opened the exhibition], Margaret Coen
[AWI Vice President], Hector Gilliland [AWI Vice President] and Cameron
Sparkes [AWI Hon Sec].
In my tenure as President of the AWI, 1972 to 85, after the
retirement of Brian Stratton who had given eight years of valuable and dedicated
service, I wish to draw attention to the support of my first few years in office
of Cameron Sparks as Hon. Secretary, and Ronald Hogan (deceased) who followed him.
The position of Hon. Secretary, always an onerous task, was difficult to fill and
the Institute owes thanks to Barbara Chapman who stepped in for one year in 1977.
Brian Gaston, who accepted the position as Secretary,
a fine unpretentious man of wit and charm, added to the drive which carried on after
our exchange exhibitions with
and touring exhibitions to
. All with the intention of stimulating watercolour
as a medium and promoting our Australian exponents. Much new ground was broken.
I must express my gratitude for the support of senior
artists, Hector Gilliland, Ronald Steuart and Frank
McNamara before, during and after my term as President.
As a reasonably youngish artist I once met Ronald Steuart at Wynyard concourse; said Ron, ‘Your name was
proposed at an AWI meeting, Fred; you didn't make it!’
The disappointment was not so great, as I considered the fact of the proposal was
In this publication is a fitting time to mention that,
Sir William Dobell, Ronald Steuart, Frederic Bates and
Frank McNamara at some time each was awarded the Wynne Prize; and all, at some time
attended Cook’s Hill High School (
and members of AWI.
Membership of AWI in November 1972 was forty six of which
number, eight members represented
. $1609, including investments of $600 was the financial balance at
9th November 1972 on my occupation of the Presidency.
The following encapsulates a busy twelve and a half years.
1973 In September, the 50th Annual Exhibition was opened by Sir
Roden Cutler, Governor of NSW, in the
Blaxland Gallery and was fittingly recorded in a gold-covered souvenir
catalogue designed by our member Roy Hutchinson.
1974 Saw the AWI in its first rented premises as HQ/office/ meeting
Sydney. Carpet was donated by a supporter, June Windspear. Walls were painted by members and chairs acquired. In this year we received assistance
with a Federal grant of $2000.
A reciprocal exhibition was shared with the American Watercolor
Society. Thirty eight members exhibited in the 108th Annual in
(opened by the Australian High Commissioner). Thirty four American paintings from
AWS were exhibited at the AWI’s 52nd Annual at Blaxland Gallery, opened by American Ambassador. A souvenir
catalogue designed by Frederic Bates was printed and donated by Peter Stuyvesant
Foundation, courtesy George Hawkes. A further Federal
grant of $1000 assisted the exchange. Also in 1975, an AWI travelling exhibition
was sent to Ingham and Townsville, and appreciated by watercolour
1976 The AWI received another small Government grant of $550.
The first of two exhibitions to
was opened by AWI President. It was a mild success. An exhibition was
despatched to Ararat and Horsham galleries in
(by mail). A number of the paintings arrived with broken glass (at least 12). Drove
down and transported unsold work back.
Watercolour classes were
commenced by the President with early assistance from Ronald Steuart,
Margaret Coen and Ron Hogan. Since then, from 1979 until
his death, John Santry continued with three classes
a week. His classes were very popular and helped in the financial stability of the
AWI. A student’s exhibition in the Institute’s gallery became a feature each December.
An invitation to the AWI to send an exhibition on tour
to eight provincial galleries in
New Zealand, including
, commenced its tour in Hastings Cultural Centre and was opened by the
Australian High Commissioner. The exhibition was arranged by the Director of Hastings
and was opened by the Australian High Commissioner. The exhibition was arranged
by the Director of Hastings Cultural Centre in co-operation with Fred Bates who
had been guest judge of
Kelliher Biennial Prize the
previous year. This was assisted by Qantas and Visual Arts Board, Australia Council.
The AWI introduced the first of its Dinners for members
Tulips Restaurant in Clarence Street; 35
attended and enjoyed, among others, the jovial company of the late Henry
Classes were continuing with tutorship of John
Santry with occasional assistance of Claudia Forbes-Woodgate.
Several members held exhibitions of small paintings in the Institute’s rooms.
1979 Brian Gaston accepted the position of Hon. Secretary. Several
small classes continued and committee and annual meetings were being held at
171 Sussex Street
with several shows of
small paintings by individuals.
1980 The AWI moved
to new small premises in the historic area of
The Rocks at 811/2 George Street,
it was one room only on the first floor. This was acquired by courtesy of
Mr Ted Florin, who conducted an art supplies business on street level.
Secretary acquired seagrass covering for the floor and
a working-bee painted and plugged the walls.
At this stage the
Institute began to assemble and display a small archival collection of deceased
members’ paintings. A work from three of the Institute’s founding members is also
included. The annual exhibition was held for the first time in the S.H. Ervin Gallery,
the Gallery Director was Clytie Jessop.
1981 An exhibition of forty paintings was sent to the Murray
. Classes continued at the AWI rooms. Several one and two-man exhibitions
were successfully held at the rooms. The 58th annual exhibition concluded with 39
sales from 161 exhibited (295 paintings had been submitted).
An exhibition of 52 AWI paintings to Narrabri
was opened by AWI President in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress.
Brian Gaston represented the AWI as tutor at two weekend schools in
and Townsville. The 59th Annual at the S.H. Ervin Gallery was again a success with
41 sales from 171 exhibited.
1983 In response to an invitation by Maurice Callow of ‘Old Watercolour Society Club’, Melbourne, ten paintings, representative
of AWI in
together with AWI Victorian members, contributed to an America-Australia exhibition
at Frankston. AWI member Robert Wade had organised the
American content from Pittsburg Watercolor Society.
An AWI exhibition to Burrangong
Gallery, Young was opened by AWI President.
AWI’s 60th Annual at S.H. Ervin Gallery was an outstanding success, opened
by Jean Campbell, author of
Painters, 1880 to 1980. The exhibition resulted in the sale of 50 paintings which
included one by Eva Kubos purchased by the National
1984 Again at the AWI annual exhibition an important Gallery purchase
of a Lloyd Rees painting was among the 40 sales. The exhibition was opened by famous
cartoonist George Molnar. An exhibition proposed by Tininburra
Gallery, Tamworth was accepted, but attracted less interest from members; perhaps
due to the increased number of exhibitions (with increased acitivity
in the watercolour medium) that our members now have
When I retired as President at the 61st AGM, the Australian
Watercolour Institute was financially stable with a
credit balance of $10,091 at 28th February, 1985, and the Institute had rented premises
which was a small gallery
home, a small permanent collection which included three
foundation members, a very good executive committee, increased membership, a number
of watercolour classes with good instruction and advice,
and the S.H. Ervin Gallery, a gallery of distinction, as host to the AWI Annual
Contacts were made internationally with
New Zealand, exploring the practicality
of promoting watercolours in an international exhibition
; with 1988 bicentenary in mind.
I am sure the enthusiasm of all members will continue
to maintain high standards and interest for the continued growth of the Australian
The Australian Watercolour
Institute 1980 to 98
PETER PINSON, OAM, Professor,
AWI President 2003-2006
For the Australian Watercolour
Institute, the period 1980 to 98 was marked by its energetic efforts to establish an
international presence with exhibitions in Europe, Asia and
America. The period saw the Institute strengthening its membership profile by inviting senior,
distinguished artists to participate in its Annual Exhibitions. Finally, it saw
periodic eruptions of debate, sometimes animated, on two persistent issues, the
nature of watercolour, and the question of permanent
The second aim of the Institute, as defined in its Constitution,
to hold exhibitions of watercolour paintings. The
central exhibition in the Institute’s calendar is the Annual Exhibition. By the
late 1970s, there was an increasing dissatisfaction with the locations of the Annual
Exhibitions. The Department of Education Gallery was not purpose-designed, and looked
shabby; the Blaxland Gallery in Farmers department store
had a reputable history, but offered only short exhibition periods. 1980 opened
a new and splendid chapter in the history of the Annual Exhibitions, with the exhibition
being held for the first time in the S. H. Ervin Gallery, located in the National
Trust’s headquarters on Observatory Hill,
. This elegant space (formerly the old science lab of the 19th century
Fort Street Girls’ High School) had been skilfully refurbished
for its opening as a gallery only two years earlier. It was already establishing
a significant reputation for its well-researched exhibitions that made a contribution
to Australian art history.
The sophistication of the facilities was matched by the
professionalism of the hanging. A typical Annual Exhibition might include 135 paintings
from 95 artists, and this represented a bewildering visual cacophony of subjects
and styles. The S. H. Ervin staff, under successive directors and managers, Clytie
Jessop, Dinah Dysart, Anne Loxley, Katrina Rumley, Amanda
Bell and Jo Holder invariably constructed coherence out of this diversity, with
astute groupings and juxtapositions of works.
Institute members were entitled to have two paintings
hung, and these formed the backbone of the Annual Exhibition, supplemented by works
selected on merit from those submitted by non-member practitioners. In addition,
as a tribute to the careers of recently deceased members, a small group of their
works would be hung in the Annual Exhibition following their death, accompanied
by a biographical note in the catalogue.
The period from 1980 saw the Institute increasingly initiating
at dealers’ galleries and regional institutions, including
(where a proposed 1990 exhibition had to be postponed until the next year due to
that city’s destructive earthquake). More significantly, the period saw numerous
exhibiting links being forged with art groups and institutions overseas.
Correspondence was begun with a number of Asian
watercolour groups, and an association formed with the newly established
World Watercolour Society. Reciprocal exhibitions were
held with the Mexican Watercolour Association in 1990, and with the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1992.
Two AWI members, Graham Austin and Peter Laverty, were awarded prizes in conjunction
with this exhibition. The Institute was invited to participate in the First and
Second Watercolour Biennales at the
Museo de la Aquarella in
Mexico, and was invited by the
Agrupacion de Acuarelistas
Vascos to send three large watercolours
to an international watercolour exhibition in
in 1995. The Wagner Gallery in
mounted an exhibition of Institute members in 1996. There was broad agreement that
the work of Institute members more than held its own in these international contexts.
Before 1980, and again after 1987, the question of securing
permanent premises for the Institute was recurrently debated. In 1980, the Institute
moved from its rented premises at
to two rented rooms on the upstairs floor of
811/2 George Street,
Sydney. The rooms were small, but they represented a home
for the Institute, and were big enough to accommodate Committee and Annual Meetings.
They were strategically sited in the Rocks area; a magnet for tourists and almost
opposite the site of the immanent
Contemporary Art. Over the years, a number of members conducted
watercolour classes in the rooms, including John Santry, Claudia Forbes-Woodgate,
Fred Bates and Ian Chapman. This honoured the Constitution’s
To encourage the practice of watercolour
Exhibitions, usually of small works, were also held there,
including shows by John Caldwell, Jocelyn Maughan, Alan
Hondow, Newton Hedstrom,
Marjory Penglase, Fred Bates, Ingrid
Raynor, and a
Women in the Arts exhibition. The space was also suitable
for displaying the Institute’s small collection of watercolours
by the Institute’s founding members.
In 1987, the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority demanded
a rent far above the Institute’s capacity to pay, forcing it out. Over the following
years, a number of alternative sites were considered, but they proved either impossible
to secure, or inappropriate.
Of course, permanent premises would be invaluable as an
administrative centre, as a storehouse for the Institute’s archives, and as an exhibition
Of course, the longevity of some organisations,
including the Royal Art Society, may be attributed, in part, to their canny acquiring
of their own real estate. But Patrick Carroll, who as President of the Peninsula
Art Society has been involved in a similar search for headquarters for that group,
suggested that premises can be an albatross as well as a liberation.
It has to be maintained he argued.
It has to be staffed and bills paid. He recalled
periodic difficulties in staffing the rooms at
811/2 George Street
. He suggested that the most important work of the Institute, conducting
exhibitions, could be carried out in sites owned by others. Counterbalancing Patrick
Carroll’s position, other members argued that the enthusiasm and joint effort generated
by one’s own premises had served to galvanise and strengthen
President Graham Austin, acknowledged
that the most realistic prospect for securing premises was through Government or
corporate patronage. The search and the debate, continue.
From time to time, correspondence would be received following
the Institute’s Annual Exhibitions, complaining that a number of the works exhibited
appeared to be using paint in other than the thin transparent washes associated
with traditional watercolour painting. It was a concern
that was shared by some members of the Institute. Their position was in harmony
with the views of the outstanding Australian watercolourist
and AWI member Kenneth MacQueen (1897 to 1960).
MacQueen rejected opaque paint or body colour in his own work, disliking
even the use of Chinese white for tinting or highlights. He insisted
equal the purity of transparent colour with the white paper left for the (high)lights.
MacQueen’s position was
a purist one, not always held by the leading British and Australian
watercolourists of the 1930s and 1940s. Paul Nash frequently used ink
and chalk and even body colour in his watercolours,
and Eric Thake made considerable use of semi-transparent
washes of gouache.
But what was bringing the matter to head in the 1980s
was the increasing use of acrylic paint by members of the Institute, and also by
non-members submitting work for inclusion in the Annual Exhibition.
Acrylic paint had begun to establish itself as an influential
medium in Australian art about 1964. Its most alluring
property at that time was its capacity to be laid down in a flat, uninflected coat,
without displaying brush-stroke or texture. For this reason it was adopted by the
hard-edge painters like Col Jordan, Alun Leach-Jones
and Syd Ball, and indeed colour field painting as surveyed
in The Field exhibition of 1968 would have been impossible without acrylic paint.
By the early 1970s, the prominence of colour-field painting
had waned, and acrylic paint’s versatility; especially when used in conjunction
with various additive mediums; gave it a central position as a painting medium.
Its advantageous properties were that it was quick-drying, comparatively
odourless and it was sound from a conservation perspective to lay it
directly onto paper (unlike oil paint). It could be used opaquely (and this allowed
correction, unlike traditional watercolour), or alternatively it could be diluted into
washes that were often indistinguishable from watercolour.
Invariably, some artists began to use it in conjunction
with, or as an alternative to, traditional watercolour.
Importantly, the pigment was not diluted with turpentine, but with water.
There lay the quandary. The Constitution of the Institute,
in a 1981 amendment, defined watercolour as
which has water as the soluble agent for the pigment. Acrylics, under the Constitution,
were considered to be watercolours. Some of the most
eminent members of the Institute used acrylics: Patrick Carroll, for example, painted
in acrylics, sometimes richly textured, in his large, commanding works; Graham Austin
used acrylic in washes which lay people (and some practitioners) would assume were
The debate was largely put to rest in 1994, with the determination
to include on future Annual Exhibition entry forms the advice ‘Exhibitors should
be mindful that the Committee will be looking towards ensuring that paintings that
address the issue of transparency represent a substantial proportion of the exhibition.
The Institute’s definition of watercolour
may seem generously inclusivist to some. Yet, part of
the Institute’s strength is that under the banner
it is a broad church that accommodated traditional skills on the one hand and experimental
attitudes on the other. Such embracing of experimentation is reflected in Judith
Wright’s combining watercolour with photographically-transferred
images, and in John Caldwell’s insertion of turpentine into his
watercolour washes to obtain crumbling and gritty qualities. After all,
it is often the discoveries at the outskirts of a discipline that point to productive
new ways forward.
The period 1980 to 98 saw only three Presidents of the Institute.
Fred Bates (who would also later serve as President of the Royal Art Society) was
President of the AWI for thirteen years between 1972 and 1985. He had previously
won the Trustees’ Watercolour Prize in 1965 and the
Wynne in 1970. In 1992 he was awarded an OAM for his services to art. He was succeeded
by Brian Gaston, then aged 68, who served
until 1989. Apart
from his work as a watercolourist, Gaston,
had practised as an architect. At the time of his Presidency,
he was one of the few members to work in a completely abstract idiom. Graham Austin
came to the Presidency in 1989 well experienced, having served as President of the
Drummoyne Municipal Art Society and of the Peninsula
Membership of the Institute continued to be by election,
usually conducted after each Annual Exhibition, when members considered the work
exhibited by non-members. Artists would usually have participated in a number of
Annual Exhibitions before being nominated. A two-thirds majority of votes of the
members present at the Annual Meeting was required for the election of a new member.
In 1985, incoming President Brian Gaston and Emeritus President Fred Bates expressed
concern that no new member had been elected for two years. Accordingly, in 1987,
it was decided to alter the constitution to require only a simple majority of votes
of the members at the Annual Meeting. As one member observed wryly, any apprehension
that the new system would open the floodgates to membership and lower standards
proved unwarranted; the last year of the two thirds vote requirement resulted in
one election to membership, while the first year of the simple majority requirement
resulted in two new members.
In 1988, the Institute began to invite two or three eminent
artists to exhibit beside members in each Annual Exhibition. It was a successful
and popular initiative, and exhibiting artists included Judy Cassab
CBE, AO, Elwyn Lynn AM, John
Coburn AM, Frank Hodgkinson, Max Miller, Terry O’Donnell,
Jeff Rigby, Margaret Woodward, Joseph Zbukvic, Rod Milgate, Reinis
Zusters, John Borrack and Christine Hiller.
Complementing these invitations to renowned, senior generation figures by the Institute,
the Manager of the S. H. Ervin Gallery nominated a small number of younger generation
artists who are making their mark through exhibitions in dealers’ galleries, to
participate as guest exhibitors in the 1998 Annual Exhibition.
In his President’s Report of 1988, Brian Gaston recalled
hearing John Coburn say, when opening the Delmar Gallery’s annual
Watercolour is a
neglected art. Why is this so? It was a salutary reminder that even now, eighty
years plus, after the meeting of six visionary watercolourists
50 Young Street
, the Australian Watercolour Institute’s
aims of promoting the practice, appreciation and collection of
watercolours remain a pertinent contribution to the visual arts in
AWI Activities 1989-2003
Emeritus President and Life Member
AWI Committee 1998, from left to right, Paul Warner, Claudia
Forbes-Woodgate; standing: Frederic Bates, Graham Austin
[President], Earle Backen [Vice President], Marjorie
McLachlan [Hon Sec]; seated: Jocelyn Maughan, Beverly
Symonds; standing: Peter Pinson [Vice President].
One of our goals during my presidency had always been
to investigate the opportunities of acquiring premises for the AWI. A lot of time
and energy had been expended in this regard but the result unattainable. One reason
being insufficient finances. Other goals, however, had been achieved.
The AWI had been able to create an international presence
having been invited and exhibited in Mexico City Biennials: 1990, 1994, 1998 and
Spain: 1995. The Federation of Canadian Artists,
Canada: 1992 with a reciprocal
in 1993. The Wagner, Hong Kong: 1996, and
Korea: 2002. The organisers of these exhibitions in most cases, received government sponsorship and
provided high quality, colour catalogues illustrating exhibitors works.
It was on Sunday 26th March 1989, when John Caldwell stepped
out of the AWI annual general meeting and phoned me at home asking if I would accept
the office of President. For family reasons I had been unable to attend the meeting.
I decided to accept the honour
and my life took on a new shape. I had previously served one year on AWI committee
but that was at least 10 years earlier, so I was not fine tuned for the day to day
management issues. However, I had experience on my side having served as President
of the Peninsula Art Society for the immediate three years previous, and had been
responsible, as President for the three foundation years of the
Drummoyne Municipal Art Society. I was expecting to give three years
tenure to the AWI and move on but It grew into fourteen.
Having accepted the challenge, the authority and responsibility
I was soon disappointed to realise the AWI had only
accumulated $16,277 in sixty six years. It then dawned on me we would need to build
on our assets if the AWI wanted to celebrate its Seventy Fifth Anniversary with
some recognition in 1998.
In the following nine years we added another $40,527 bringing
accumulated funds up to $56,804. This enabled us to spend approximately $45,000
on publishing the AWI 75th Anniversary Book. Although some members have outstanding
money for the books we have sold the majority of 1500 books at cost price and earned
our money back. We have successfully used the book as a public relations tool to
promote the Institute and members. I am also grateful to Lou and Brenda
Klepac of Beagle Press for their professionalism as publishers of
The AWI 75th Anniversary book I consider my greatest achievement
during my presidency. It was a big task to produce and then sell. We were advised
to have one thousand printed, a number we could only be expected to sell. We ignored
that advice and had one thousand five hundred printed. We sold the lot.
Financially, we remain in good shape, as indicated in
this years balance sheets. We are fortunate in having
a healthy bank balance, however, I believe it is time
to consider an increase in membership fees and non members exhibiting fees in order
to take on new challenges like an AWI web site. Our last rise in subscription fees
was about twelve years ago so one could argue we are long overdue.
During the earlier years of my term as President, our
annual exhibitions at the S H Ervin Gallery made us accustomed to splendid sales
results. We were selling a third of the works on show, on average, 40 to 50 paintings.
The S H Ervin policies, attitudes and continual change of Gallery Directors saw
our sales reputation diminishing. Attitudes to the AWI Annual Exhibition were changing,
largely by the gallery’s disregard for the Institutes established following. Their
respect after 19 years of dedicated loyalty and exhibitions had diminished making
new ideas. The S H Ervin Gallery philosophy was being tailored to encourage
controversial younger artists and visitors who may, one day become collectors, henceforth
disregarding those existing collectors who were members of The National Trust. This
was a frustrating period and sadly, they abruptly discontinued our relationship
shortly after our 1999 Annual Exhibition.
Opportunity afforded itself with the promising
, the largest commercial gallery in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately,
at the last minute the gallery reneged on planned arrangements and closed down.
Consequently, the AWI was unable to have an annual exhibition in 2000.
The committee quickly made arrangements and Gosford became
the venue for 2001. In 2002, we exhibited at the
. For the immediate future the AWI committee had made alternate annual
arrangements: the 2003 Annual Exhibition at Gosford and 2004 at
Mosman, with a repeat of that pattern for the next two years.
For our annual exhibition at Mosman
Art Gallery 2002 we invested $4,757.50 [including GST] in the services of Ellie
Carew a Public Relations Consultant. Ellie was able to obtain wide media coverage
which was reflected in a record number of visitors attending, more than any previous
exhibition at the
. It was our intention to make a grand impression and encourage the Gallery Director
to book us in for future year’s exhibitions. If we were to concentrate on sales
for an assessment our generosity seems to have favoured
the Mosman Gallery more than AWI. We sold only 8 paintings
at our annual exhibition at Mosman and congratulated
those who sold their works.
In addition to our annual exhibitions we had exhibited
in Newcastle Regional Gallery in 1991, Wagner Gallery 2001 and Wollongong City Gallery
It is with pride I congratulate two of our members who
received Australian Honours in 2003, Earle
Backen AM, AWI Vice President and Robert Wade OAM. During my term as
President, Fred Bates, Frank McNamara, Hector Gilliland and Guy Warren each received
OAM’s. In 2003 our membership proudly includes eight
members with Australian Honours, presented for their
status and contributions to Australian art.
During 2002, sadly, two of our older members, Hector Gilliland
OAM and Joan Dent passed away. They were recognised
by tribute paintings in our annual exhibition, as was Frank Hodgkinson
AM, who passed away just before our 2001 annual exhibition. During 2003, Ron Fletcher
reluctantly resigned, reasoning his inability to paint to his usual standard because
of age and health.
It is with great pleasure and honour
I welcomed Brian Dunlop as our newest member. During the
past fourteen years,
we have invited and welcomed a total of 47 talented
artists to AWI membership.
Computers seem to be taking over our lives. The internet
seems to be opening new horizons and a necessity for future communication. To further
promote AWI members we looked at the prospect of creating a comprehensive web site
with links to members own web sites, opening communication opportunities and supplying
pictures, information, contact details etc.
As in the past, some of our members had willingly assisted
the Committee with the packing of paintings at the close of our exhibitions and
I thank them. At the Mosman Gallery, Jocelyn
Maughan gave her time and talent to perform
a watercolour painting demonstration
during her recovery period from a serious operation. Warwick Webb, Robin
Norling and myself gave organised
talks to the gallery’s visitors. These events have been proven beneficial to the
artists, the gallery and the AWI. I continually encourage members to willingly offer
their time and talents to do something similar at our annual exhibitions. It is
beneficial for the artist as much as AWI.
The AWI’s respectable standing
has been due to many, time consuming meetings, generosity, enthusiasm and effort.
The AWI Committee has continually attempted to establish new benchmarks for a successful
future. Creating an admirable track record. Although watercolour
is generally not the preferred painting medium by the majority of artists, the AWI
has all the right ingredients to continue developing a widespread interest, by covering
the gamut of styles and techniques, whilst maintaining the highest possible standards.
The AWI committee has willingly continued participation
in discussions with suitable galleries with the hope of achieving a spread of successful exhibitions.
It is the Committee’s intention to always uphold the AWI’s
hard earned reputation throughout all negotiations.
Peter Pinson Vice President,
had been very supportive and gave tremendous energy when he opened the
and Mosman Exhibitions.
Marjorie McLachlan, has willingly
and conscientiously served as Honorary Secretary for 18 years. Marjorie had not
been invited to AWI membership until she had served as Secretary for 3 years. So,
we can say, for 18 of her 15 years membership, Marjorie has been energetic and generous, contributing
her time and secretarial skills for the benefit of AWI Members. She has been doing
it simply because of her enthusiasm for art in general but more particularly, watercolour painting and great respect for AWI members.
As President, I was particularly grateful for her assistance in achieving AWI goals.
Another member, Claudia Forbes-Woodgate
with 38 years membership,
[since 1965], was our longest serving committee member. Having been elected
to the committee every year since 1969. She was our Treasurer from 1972 to 2001,
a total of 29 years of her 34 years committee service.
Without the enthusiastic efforts of members like Marjorie
and Claudia, the Institute would not have the respect it has today. I congratulate
and thank them for their contribution.
Jocelyn Maughan, with 8 years
on committee, worked diligently, particularly during her three years as Treasurer.
Robin Norling, 3 years on committee, enthusiastically
created an exofficio position as education officer at
our exhibitions and within his role on Committee.
All our committee members, working on members’ behalf,
had contributed magnificently to the AWI. It is also interesting to note, Vice President,
Earle Backen had served on committee for 13 years, [5
as VP]; Vice President, Peter Pinson has served 11 years, [7 as VP];
Beverley Symonds has served 12 years and Bob Baird has served one. I am ever
grateful to each of them for their contributions.
Throughout my fourteen years as President I have also
had the pleasure, honour and assistance on committee
of past presidents Brian Gaston , 4 years and Fred Bates
OAM, 10 years. Also Frank McNamara OAM, 6 years; Ian Chapman, 8 years; Paul Warner,
4 years; Ron Stannard, 2 years and John
Santry, 1 year. I am proudly thankful to each for their enthusiasm, energies
and wisdom throughout the years.
I am also grateful to Peter Laverty for his excellent
opening of our exhibition at the Wagner Gallery on the 11th September 2002, approximately
2 hours before the devastation of the
terrorist attack in
Financially the AWI remains in good shape, as indicated
in the 2002 balance sheets. We are fortunate in having a healthy bank balance of
$57,664.39, however, I believed it was time to consider
an increase in membership fees and non members exhibiting fees in order to take
on new challenges like an AWI web site. Our last rise in subscription fees was about
twelve years ago so one could argue we are long overdue.
The 2003 Annual General Meeting concluded my AWI chairmanship
and equalled the term of our Foundation President, B
E Minns who also contributed fourteen years. I will
always feel honoured to have been given the opportunity
and remain most grateful for the experience which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to Peter Pinson’s term as President
in the Institutes 80th year with a strong belief he will raise the AWI reputation
to new plateaus.
The 75th Anniversary Book
To celebrate the AWI’s 75th
Anniversary in 1998, The Beagle Press, with the Australian Watercolour Institute, produced a magnificent
hard cover book;
Institute 75th Anniversary 1923–1998
in conjunction with an exhibition held at the
National Trust’s SH Ervin Gallery,
, November; December 1998. There were 1500 copies printed all
of which have been sold.
The 80th Anniversary Website
To celebrate the AWI’s 80th
Anniversary in 2003, the Institute has prepared this website primarily based on
the contents of the 75th Anniversary book .
The objective of this website is to promote the AWI, its
members and their work. It is also intended to be informative and interesting, giving
a comprehensive indication of the history and challenges faced by the Institute,
its members and watercolourists in general.
Many thanks to:
Dr Brian Kennedy, Director, National Gallery of
for writing the Foreword.
Jean Campbell, art historian, writer and critic for her
permission to reprint the history of the Australian Watercolour
Institute from her book Australian Watercolour Painters
; from 1780 to the Present Day.
Introduction by Graham Austin
with contributions by
Philip Gray, of Philip Gray Photography, for photographing
98 of the paintings reproduced in the book.
Marjorie McLachlan, Secretary, for her most valuable contribution
in co-ordinating and typing the text.
To The Beagle Press for its support, advice and enthusiasm
for the book project.
Bernd Heinrich and Graham Austin for their support in
creating this web site.