the society of arts & crafts of nsw . 1942 - 1971


the society of arts & crafts of nsw . history extracts


Craftwork in the time of War' was featured in the annual exhibition held in David Jones' Auditorium. War restrictrions prevented the use of the Gallery in the Education Building. There was a display of Soldiers' Craftwork and donations were sent to the Prisoners of War Fund.


The annual exhibition was once again held in David Jones' Auditorium, and a donation of £100 was sent to the Chinese Children's Relief Fund. Representatives of France Holland China and Russia arranged interesting loan exhibits of their country's craftwork.


The sales depot was again opened, and here annual exhibitions were held until 1947, as no suitable gallery was available. At the invitation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, radio talks were begun.


A project to found a Craft Training College was approved at the 1945 Annual General Meeting. The objective was to 'establish a diploma course, and to raise the standard of all craftwork through advanced instruction, with emphasis on a wide cultural background'. Classes started in October, in Double Bay, and continued until the end of 1951, and included design and colour, embroidery, textile printing, spinning and weaving. A correspondence course on design and colour and fabric printing was circulated as far as New Guinea and Singapore.


Attendance at the craft college was so good that the weaving classes were moved to a second location in North Sydney.


The Education Department's Art Gallery was again available for an annual exhibition. Students work from the Craft Training College was displayed and this resulted in many new enrolments.

1948, 1949

The courses offered by the Craft Training College were extended to include interior decorating and drawing. In 1949 costume and stage design and lettering were included. A bequest of £100 allowed the purchase of a kiln.


Woollahra Council upon the death of the owner of the premises where the Craft Training College was located, resumed the property. Courses now offered included pottery, basketry, advanced design and leatherwork. The Society became affiliated with the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and at the end of the year, the North Sydney studio was closed, because of lack of space for class expansion.


By the time of the 1951 AGM, and after six years of successful organisation, it was decided that because of financial and other difficulties, the Craft Training College was to be closed. The furniture and equipment acquired over the years was disposed of.

1952, 1953, 1954, 1955

Sad times were upon the Society, many original members had died, many had grown old and could no longer take their usual active part. Mass production, and a move away from traditional arts and crafts were bringing troubled times.


The Society celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and a retrospective exhibition of craftwork covering the fifty years was held. The Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences and the Art Gallery arranged exhibitions of members work which had been purchased by them. Members were notified that a limited amount of machine work was permissible.

1957, 1958

In 1958 it was decided to renovate the 'depot' and £50 were set aside, but following this the rent was increased. Members gave talks about their work on television, at this stage, a fairly new medium.


In 1955 the society had 153 members, by 1959, the membership had reduced to 112.


By 1960 the financial state was causing some concern. For some time the society had been renting a showcase, but with a proposed increase in rent, it was given up. Discussion took place late in the year about closing down the depot. Increasing costs and difficulties with voluntary workers were taking their toll.


A decision was taken to keep the premises known as the depot open, with the help of a roster of voluntary helpers. At the annual exhibition, the guest exhibitors were the Embroiders Guild and the Handweavers & Spinners Guild.

1962, 1963

Membership, which in 1962 had been 124, grew to 129 in 1963. A little money was spent on the Gift Shop or 'depot' in the city, and a number of special displays or small exhibitions were held with the hope of acquainting the public with the society's 'permanent' address.

1964, 1965, 1966

Membership steadied at 128, and the society continued it's drive to 'acquaint the public' with new signage, letterbox drops, paid advertisements, and exhibitions opened by television personalities.


In 1967 improvements were carried out at the Gift Shop. The rooms were renovated and painted, a new sign was installed and an electric fan purchased. New jewellery cases were installed.


By 1968, the membership had reached 144. Three exhibitions were held in three separate city locations. Of the 126 members, manning the gallery fell to only 17 willing workers, and members were urged to give more support.


1969 was a very busy year. In June, July, August and September, a touring exhibition was arranged under the auspices of the Arts Council of Australia, and covered many country centres throughout the state. This exhibition was well received and created a great deal of interest. It was also a financial success.


An extraordinary AGM had to be called during the year to inform the membership of the society's financial position, which was not very healthy, and to invite discussion and suggestions for the future. The membership stood at 125.


By this year membership had declined to 119, and towards the end of the year, the disturbing news was received that the Gift Shop was to be closed as the building was to be demolished. A special meeting was held, and members instructed to remove their work from the premised by early 1972.


our history, next 1972 - 1991