Artist’s brush helped paint his­tory

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

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.

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

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.

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