Art club still strong 125 years on
The legacy of a group of 19thcentury artists lives on at an art club in the heart of Miramar.
After 125 years, the Wellington Art Club is still alive and thriving, getting set to celebrate the milestone anniversary, which club president Judy Langham says could be a New Zealand first.
‘‘We are almost certainly the oldest operating art club in New Zealand.
‘‘The club goes back to the time of the ‘Pumpkin Cottage’ artists of 1882 who started painting out in Upper Hutt in a little cottage.’’
Back then the club was led by James Mclauchlan Nairn, a Scottish immigrant and teacher at the Wellington School of Design.
While it started small, membership grew to include some well-known Kiwi artists such as Sydney Hamlet Higgs and Mabel Hill.
‘‘They were very well respected artists of their time,’’ Langham says.
The group moved around a lot before settling at its purpose-built clubrooms at Chelsea St in Miramar in the 1980s.
‘‘When it opened in 1984, it was the first permanent home the club had ever had,’’ club member and historian Phil Dickson says.
Before that, the club rented premises in various parts of Wellington.
While Langham had only been president since April this year, she had been involved with the club for the past, very enjoyable, decade.
‘‘The club is a very supportive and friendly, pleasant place to be. There’s lots of interaction between members, working in different classes and mediums.
‘‘We have a mixture of people ... it’s a hobby-friendly, supportive group ... we have a few laughs.’’
Currently, the club has about 150 registered members with about half of them active participants in club activities.
Langham says new members are always welcome with a push to get some fresh, young blood into the club. ‘‘Whether you are a student just beginning to understand the wide world of visual arts or a seasoned artist willing to share your experience, knowledge, expertise and passion - the club’s doors are open.’’
The 125th celebration will be low-key, with members enjoying cake and bubbles at an afternoon tea before getting back to their works-in-progress.
‘‘There’s lots of interaction between members, working in different classes and mediums.’’ Judy Langham, Wellington Art Club president