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About the AWI

The Australian Watercolour Institute is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious watercolour society with a national and international membership comprising the most eminent artists in Australia, England, Scotland, China and America. It was on Tuesday, 21st August 1923, that the Australian Watercolour Institute was born. The venue was 50 Young Street, Sydney. Six artists, B. E. Minns, A.J. Daplyn, C.E.S. Tindall, Martin Stainforth, J.A. Bennett, , and A.H. Fullwood, were the initial members of the newly-formed Institute. Their stated aim was to encourage the practice of watercolour, as well as to promote the appreciation and ownership of watercolour paintings. These six artists were fine exponents of the medium, who recognised the need to establish a body consecrated exclusively to watercolour.

Subsequently, another eight artists were invited to join the Australian Watercolour Institute as foundation members, notably Albert Collins, John Eldershaw, Harold Herbert, Syd Long, M.J. McNally, H. Septimus Power, J.W. Tristram and Blamire Young.

Under the presidency of B.E. Minns, and with the ground rules in place, eleven of the fourteen foundation members and thirty-two non-members showed together at the Australian Watercolour Institute’s first exhibition at Anthony Horderns’ Art Gallery in March 1924.

This inaugural exhibition established a format for subsequent AWI exhibitions, which embrace a variety of styles and subject matter. The works of non-members were selected, exhibited and reviewed. New members were recruited from these exhibitions, often only after several shows, with a view to maintaining the highest possible standards. This selective process remains in place.