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 The Art Society of Tasmania Inc.                      (Lady Franklin Gallery closed due to COVID-19)                     Ancanthe Park, 268 Lenah Valley Road, Lenah Valley, Tasmania 7008


Ancanthe Park
268 Lenah Valley Road
PO Box 403
Lenah Valley
Tasmania 7008


Patron: Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania
Vice Patrons: Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds and Mr Rob Valentine MLC

Exhibition Hours
Every Sat-Sun
Closed until further notice
HomeHistory of the Society

History of the Art Society of Tasmania

{click on image to see full size - courtesy Allport Library}{citation} 
{click on the image to see video}
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 Four young women representing each of the
four seasons (L-R):  M. Swan,
Annie Margaret Solly, 
Louisa Swan, Curzona (Lily) Allport.
(circa 1876, Louisa about age 16)
Louisa Swan
(1860 - 1955)
 Founder and life member 
Ethel Nicholls
(1866 - 1956) 
Mabel Hookey
(1871 - 1953) 

During 1883-84 a young art student named Louisa Swan, from a well-to-do and well-connected family in Tasmania, spent time in Melbourne studying the art scene. She saw first hand what art groups there were achieving, and she wondered whether something like that could be done in Tasmania. On her return to Hobart, Louisa and her friend Maria Evans joined forces in a small studio over a shop in Liverpool St, and in 1884 The Art Association was formed - later renamed The Art Society of Tasmania to conform with mainland societies.

The objective of creating The Art Association was to encourage art, especially by holding periodic exhibitions of paintings, drawings, wood-carving and other works. The Association had an impressive early membership including artists J Haughton Forrest, William C Piguenit, Arthur Streeton and GV Mann. That standard continued with such artists as Lucien Dechaineux, Mabel Hookey, John Eldershaw, Curzona (Lily) Allport, Edith Holmes, Walter Taylor, Dorothy Stoner, Joseph Connor, and Lady Teresa Hamilton, wife of Governor Sir Robert Hamilton, who held sketching classes.

The Art Society's annual exhibitions attracted many artists of note from the mainland including Julian Ashton, Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Blamire Young. The annual exhibitions were followed by a ball, and both events became highlights of Hobart's social scene. 

Until 1949 the Society was without a permanent home. In its early years exhibitions were held in such places as Fitzgerald's store, the Lord Mayor's Court Room, the Masonic Hall, the old Post Office, the Town Hall, an office in the Public Buildings in Macquarie Street and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The Society has always enjoyed the support and prestige of distinguished and powerful friends. Many Governors have been patrons, and over the years many leaders of Hobart society have served on the governing council. 
Many office bearers served for extended periods. Co-founder Louisa Swan remained as councillor, then Vice Patron, until 1949; Ethel M Nicholls, secretary from 1916 to 1928, served on the council until the 1940's. Max Angus, an outstanding contributor, served as president, vice-president or councillor for over thirty years, leading the society's impressive list of life members since 1960, others being Nell Frankcombe, Ray Lighton, Elspeth Vaughan, Norma McAuley, John Traynor, Lynette Wilson, Winifred Knight, Margaret Wallace, Betty Preston and Nadine Wise. Sixty years on Life Members Patricia Giles, Margaret Kay, Terrence Gough, Betty Debnam, Di Casimaty, Carolyn Bassett, Lynn Hasenkam and Vicki Chapman continue to bring prestige, respect and inspiration to the Art Society. 
Lady Jane Franklin would surely be pleased her vision of 1842 for her 'temple' Ancanthe bore fruit, and Louisa Swan and Maria Evans would be proud that 136 years later the Art Society is still going strong and is being supported from so many different quarters.
Max Angus
{image courtesy ABC News - see full article here}

Max Angus AM, FRSA 
(1914 - 2017)

{image courtesy Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, TAHO}


Art Society of Tasmania, before the move to Ancanthe
{click on the images to see full size - courtesy Tasmanian Archives}{citation}

These circa 1930 photographs show the Society's name at the top of the Macquarie Street Public Buildings, today's Department of Treasury and Finance buildings. Behind the Macquarie Street sandstone facade the western side of the building still looks much the same today as it did then, just with more windows but the Society's name has long gone.

Art Society council at relocation to Lady Franklin Gallery 1949
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Back: Mr. R. Innes Harding, Miss Edith Holmes, Padre J.C. Salter, 
Mr. Max Angus, Mr. H. Mulvaney, Mr. H. Wilson, Mr. K. Moffat.
Front: Mrs. M. Corrigan, Mrs. J. Hawkins, The President Mr. Alf Pedder, 
Miss V. Vimpany, Mr. V. Webb

{click on image to run video; click title at top of image to open in separate Youtube window}

The Tasmanian Amateur Cine Society presents

the re-opening ceremony of Lady Franklin Museum.
The movie shows Sir Hugh and Lady Binney,
Stephen Hickman, Robert and Gertrude Cosgrove
(silent movie, 12th Nov 1949)

The Art Society of Tasmania Inc., Ancanthe Park, 268 Lenah Valley Road, Lenah Valley, Tasmania 7008.    ABN 73 537 464 400