Stratford Press

New president in charge of art society

Committee vows to build on heritage of group after fresh appointmen­ts made

- Jo Stallard Stratford Art Society

The Stratford Art Society has a new president. Susan Harris stepped into the role after former president Rhonda Bunyan retired. Susan has a wide range of experience in art communitie­s, including being the secretary of the Atherton Tableland Regional Gallery Advisory Committee in North Queensland.

She also curated the Conversati­ons with Aotearoa exhibition of Kiwi artists in Australia.

Susan says she and the committee want to continue to build on the heritage of the Stratford Art Society.

The society started in 1948, when it was called the Stratford Arts and Crafts Society.

The president was Dr Carberry and Nadina Carryer was the secretary.

Its first exhibition was children’s art curated by Don Campbell, organised as part of the new focus on art in the primary curriculum.

In 1950, the first itinerant exhibition curated by Stewart Morrieson included Roy Cowan, John Ritche Peter McIntyre and James Coe.

The society has a history of controvers­y. In 1954, it refused to exhibit the works of Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon, resulting in a backlash, including letters to the editor and the society being removed from the itinerary of travelling exhibition­s.

The society remained known as the Stratford Arts and Crafts Society until 1968, when the name was changed to the Stratford Art Society.

In 1978, McCahon’s work made an appearance in an exhibition in Stratford again. Toss Woollaston was invited as a guest artist in 1970 and one of his works was presented by the society to Stratford High School to hang in its foyer.

Despite the society growing in strength with two exhibition­s a year, and with speakers such as Michael Smithers, Marianne Muggeridge, Rei Hamon and internatio­nal ceramic artist

Mitsuya Niiyama, it was having trouble finding permanent premises.

It has used a number of spaces including Mr Buckley’s paint shop, now Dunlop’s Shop, the Old Manoys building, which was used as a supermarke­t, the Prestige Hosiery building, now known as Dynamite Bay, Gardiner’s Billiard Saloon, upstairs in Afyne Restaurant, above Stratford Cafe and Bakery, the King’s Theatre and outside in Prospero Place.

A more permanent space was found above the borough council offices and in the Prestige Building until its present home, the Percy

Thomson Gallery, was built.

The society has had several presidents including Jean Linklater, Joan Fitzpatric­k, Olga Sawyers, Lesley Le Grove and Rosemary Stoppard.

Their organisati­on and enthusiasm meant the society has held successful arts festivals that included plays and poetry performanc­es and diverse exhibition­s.

Over the years there have also been painting and printmakin­g and workshops that explored pit firing and raku firing on local farms and at primary school grounds.

The new committee has a number of talented members including multidisci­plinary artist and Te Kupenga Stone Sculpture Society secretary Joelle Xavier, Fenton Street Arts Collective owner and figurative artist Jo Stallard, and jewellery and watercolou­r artist Yvonne Geeraedts.

Ohter members include photograph­er Percy Thompson, assistant curator and treasurer Amy Taunt, practising oil artist and secretary Carina Robinson, pastel artist and vicepresid­ent Michelle Rowland, and multidisci­plinary artist and Eltham Village Gallery committee member Jacqueline McCluggage.

 ?? Photo / Supplied ?? The Stratford Art Society: Amy Taunt (left), Michelle Rowland, Jo Stallard, Susan Harris and Carina McQueen.
Photo / Supplied The Stratford Art Society: Amy Taunt (left), Michelle Rowland, Jo Stallard, Susan Harris and Carina McQueen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand