Short History of Central Coast Art Society
By Margaret Hardy, President.
Compiled August 2006
The early 1970’s was a time of growth for Gosford as creative people moved to the area and people with a social conscience like Phil Bennett, inspired by a love of culture, started to look for people with similar interests in all the arts. The Central Coast Potters Society and the Hand weavers and Spinners were formed in these days, and an artist by the name of Bill Ryan put an advertisement in the local paper asking for people interested in starting an Art Society in Gosford to contact him. Phil Bennett, Joan Matthews, Earl Marchant, Tom and Sue Knight, Hans and Ursula Giese, Jean Isherwood, Max and Corinne Van Leeuwen, Alice Strutt, Marijke Duell, Julie Ferguson, Henry Heyderman, Mrs Jamieson, N. Kaminski, N. Stokes, E Forbes. D. Medbury, A Gleeson, H Seton-Wilkinson, and Joy Harvey, answered the call.
At the first meeting held 30th July 1971, Bill Ryan was elected Chairman; Secretary was Sue Knight; Publicity Tom Knight. Joy Harvey was an early Secretary and according to Bill Ryan was a pusher and mover for facilities for the arts. Earl Marchant was President in 1972. Trustees were John Flakelar, Peter Reynolds and Les McCarthy. On the death of Les McCarthy, Frank Wilsher was ordained Trustee and on his death, Bev Cooper became a Trustee. These people continued to support the Society until we became incorporated In 2005.
Four groups, the Potters, Lapidary Club, Hand-weavers & Spinners and the Art Society worked to get common premises in Gosford and plans were developed for meeting/exhibition space and workshops at Caroline Bay. Then Terama Place (off Henry Parry Drive Gosford) was proposed, but all these efforts did not eventuate. A movement was also started in the 70s to have a Regional Gallery/Theatre complex built at Caroline Bay but this did not eventuate either, due to the lack of foresight of councillors.
The Potters and Lapidary people built their own workshops. The Handweavers & Spinners obtained an old Cottage which is now located in Russell Drysdale Street; the Art Society moved to Kincurnber School of Arts where Exhibitions were held for 20 years after a donation to renovate the hall was given by the Society in exchange of a 20 year lease for workshops and exhibitions. It was not uncommon to sell 80-90 paintings in the early exhibitions. The Society is still represented on the Hall Committee, Use of the hall ceased when the Gosford Arts Centre was built 11 years ago and the Society moved, its activities to this venue.
Meetings were held at various locations in Gosford including the CWA Hall (formerly in Donnison Street), the Central Coast Leagues Club, the Education Centre (corner of Georgiana Terrace and Mann Street), and the Gosford Senior Citizens’ Centre. Exhibitions were held at Umina. Markettown, Henry Kendall Cottage and Museum., the Laycock. Street Theatre, Point Clare Community Centre and other venues. Childrens’ art classes were held at Kincumber by Julie Duell (formerly Ferguson), with kids’ exhibitions at the Museum
The Young Peoples Incentive Award was held for about 9 years, with special exhibitions, including a display of paintings by members of the first art group on the Coast, the Wamberal Art Group. The initiator of this group was Vi Finch who is still a member today. Other special exhibitions took place. There have been few Presidents over the years. Charles McDonald who owned Quality Mouldings( a framing shop ) was President for many years. His wife Betty was Treasurer; Vic Johnson followed Charles., with Eileen Luton President for a short time followed by Margaret Hardy. Val Woods was Secretary until her death, followed by Bev Peck and a couple of others whose names escape me. Margaret Hardy completes the list to date.. Ray Schwab and Stella Palmer held the purse strings for some time and Rod Smith has continued in this role for the past couple of years. Membership secretaries have included Lauron Piloty, Bev Cooper, Jean McArthur, Chris Mitchell and others.
This is just a short profile of the Society which has continued to grow and see offshoot societies like Toukley and District, Tuggerah Lakes, Northlakes, C.C. Watercolour Society and the Zooids, created as the area has expanded.