Artist’s brush helped paint history
Matamata’s Jim Cotter might have recently turned 90 but he still picks up his paint brush every now and then.
The painter was a founding member of the Matamata Art Society and celebrated his 90th birthday on July 1. A special party was hosted in his honour at the Tower Gallery on July 5.
Mr Cotter had formed an art club in 1949 before Jim Ayers arrived in Matamata in 1954 to take up an art teaching position at the college. ‘‘He approached me about forming an art society,’’ Mr Cotter said.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Nearly 60 years of history to be exact, with the society reaching this milestone next year.
Mr Cotter’s art club, which had 15-20 painters in those early days, then became the nucleus of the Matamata Art Society.
Mr Cotter said it had been a lot of fun over the years having a range of different people in the community involved in art.
‘‘We managed to build up a very good society. We had practising members of course, painters, potters, weavers, sculptors and then we had quite a number of associated members.’’
Mr Cotter said the society was very strong to begin with, with about 100 members, 60 of these being practising artists.
‘‘We’ve slipped down over the years but we’ve gained more members now, we’re building up again now.
‘‘We were all young people when that society was formed but now . . .’’
Mr Cotter still paints and has only recently resigned from the art society committee.
The creative type was a representational painter to begin with, but over the years he has done more abstract work.
Mr Cotter said he found this type of painting more creative and much more challenging. ‘‘ It’s because you have to use your imagination.’’
When he sees his finished work displayed in a gallery, Mr Cotter always thinks he should be able to do better.
He is still critical of his own work. ‘‘The next painting will be the one,’’ he said.
Mr Cotter said he had a very good exhibition in 2011 when he sold 26 paintings, most of which were abstract.
Mr Ayers said as soon as he and Mr Cotter got together all those years ago they realised they had similar ideas.
Mr Cotter said that Mr Ayers had all the ideas and that he had the painters.
The pair, along with the society’s first president David Stanley, got the art society going in those early days and came together again to celebrate Mr Cotter’s birthday earlier this month.
The men said the society had held a large number of exhibitions over the years, especially in the town hall once it was built.
The current building, on the property of the Tower Museum, arrived in the late 1970s.
It was a workers’ house in Waharoa and was purchased for a couple of dollars.
The art society then had to pay for the moving of it and getting it up to scratch.
The trio said it was great to see the progress the society had made over the years and they hoped the society would remain strong in the community for years to come.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Matamata Art Society members, from left, Jim Ayers, Jim Cotter and David Stanley at Mr Cotter’s 90th birthday celebrations earlier this month. The trio played a large part in establishing the society nearly 60 years ago.