The inaugural meeting of the Central Coast Watercolour Society was held on the 11th September 1985 at Charmhaven Community Hall. Eighteen people attended with five apologies. At that meeting, Charles Wright was elected Hon. President and Cas Sandercock, Hon. Secretary. Jack McDonogh and Roy Doyle became Patrons, the latter also designing the Society’s logo. Roy retired as Patron in 1992 and the Society lost Jack who died in 1993. Cas Sandercott and Roy Doyle were the first to be recognised as honorary life-members.
Other past Patrons are Helen Goldsmith (1992-2009), June Young (1993-2007), the late Molly Flaxman (1999-2004) and Harold Scott, who retired as patron in 2012 after many years, due to ill health. Present Patrons are non-members Marie Andrews, David Beschi and Jocelyn Maughan, and life-members Margaret Wright and Warwick Webb.
By mid-1986 the membership had risen to fifty, after which it continued to climb and hovered around one hundred for some years, rising to a record 140 in mid-2013.
The Society’s original aims and objectives remain
• To encourage and promote watercolour painting and related media and the appreciation of watercolour painting to provide a social discourse between artists and Patrons;
• To encourage the study of watercolour painting and related media by the formation of study groups and discussion groups, and to promote information on this art form by providing workshops, lectures, books and correspondence with public bodies and individuals;
• To institute exhibitions of the highest possible standard for public appreciation and subsequent sale on behalf of members. The Society became an incorporated body in January 1993.
Charmhaven Community Centre continued as the meeting venue until June 1987 and served again over the two years 1999 and 2000. In the interim, members gathered at Gorokan – variously Lakehaven Studio and the Leisure Centre. Years 2001-2004 saw the Society based at Matcham Community Hall, a delightful rural setting but found not to be accommodating to older, frailer members.
The Society therefore relocated to Niagara Park Community Centre, a safer spot for those less nimble, but too cramped to provide adequately for the numbers attending meetings and the associated storage demands. At the same time, Wyong Shire Council was re-developing a site to become The Entrance Community Centre and invited the Society to advise it on the needs of art groups. This relationship proved most fruitful. The re-development delivered a venue with everything for which the Society could have hoped – a beautiful location with plenty of space for meetings and workshops, good lighting and storage, and ease of parking and general access. The Society moved to the new location in July 2009 and considers it now occupies its permanent home.
On 10th September 2010 the Society held a dinner at Gosford Regional Gallery to celebrate completion of 25 years. On that occasion it honoured the late life-member Elsa Kimmorley, its longest-serving President (1996-2004), by the placement of a plaque on its audio equipment. Polly Norton, President 1993 to 1996, and Sonnie Hopkins, President 2007 to 2011, both remain active life-members. Other Presidents have been Charles Wright (1985-1987), June Daniel (1987-1990), Helen Woods (1991-1992), Warwick Webb (1992-1993), Shelia Todd (1996-1997), Arthur Taylor (1997-1998), Lorna Unwin (August-September 2004), Joan Squire (2004-2006), Joan Kocken (2006-2007) and Ann Hasnip from 2011 to the present. Other current life-members are Anne Brack, Jean Carney, Mary Scholes, Roger Smith, Barbara Vaughan and Gwen Shipton. Honorary membership was bestowed on Robert Rainey, our non-member volunteer website manager, in April 2013.
An important feature of the Society has been its support for some local charities committed to supporting the visual arts, especially Hospital Art Australia Inc. and Terrigal Rotary, with which it has held jointly conducted exhibitions. In addition, the Society sponsored a prize in the art competition, Picturing Ourimbah in association with the 20th Anniversary of the Ourimbah Campus of Newcastle University.
The Society’s first dedicated exhibition was held in October 1987 at Lakehaven Community Centre. Exhibitions at Gosford Art Centre, Caroline Bay, commenced in 1995. Following the opening of the new Gosford Regional Gallery in April 2000, the Society’s Easter Showcase Exhibition has been an annual event there. Having moved its regular meetings to The Entrance Community Centre, the Society has also held exhibitions annually at The Entrance Gallery, which is also housed at the Centre, since November 2010. For the first time, in September 2013, the Society also held an exhibition at the Shorethyme Restaurant, Norah Head.
An exhibition in the NSW Parliament House in November 2009 was the outcome of the invitation in April 2007 of the then Member for Gosford, Marie Andrews MP to host an exhibition of the Society there. In preparation, over the next two and a half years, effort was aimed at meeting its third objective, that of ensuring the exhibition was of the highest standard, both in the paintings themselves, in their hanging, and in the overall management of the event. It is fitting that the exhibition took place during the Society’s twenty-fifth year.
A newsletter became the Society’s main communication vehicle in 1986, and has remained so ever since. Its web-site http://www.centralcoastwatercolour.com.au was launched in 2009 to give information to the broader community, as a consequence of the offer of Hunter-resident Robert Rainey, to create and maintain one on a voluntary basis.
Over the years, the Society has encouraged new members by providing inexpensive beginners’ lessons. In addition some of the more experienced members have acted as mentors on a one to one basis for new members who are beginning watercolourists. On occasions the society has also run courses in Basics Techniques in Watercolour for both those with little knowledge of watercolour and those who wanted a refresher course.
A strength of the Society is the sharing of management tasks. As well as having an Executive of President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, there is a responsible officer for the website, membership and minutes, and together with an assistant for each, the newsletter, workshops, the library, art materials, exhibitions, publicity, and catering. The Management Committee meets monthly prior to the member-meetings.
Monthly members’ meetings variously provide for participation in decision-making, joint critiques of work in progress, demonstrations, talks and information sharing, as well as time for booking for workshops, borrowing from the library, socialising and morning tea. Since the beginning of 2012, members have also been encouraged to join in the monthly painting challenge, a suggestion of member Joan Squire, where a painting subject is set for each month and members bring in their attempts to the next monthly meeting. This had proved to be very popular with members. In addition, eight or nine monthly workshops are held each year, with tutors who are recognised experts in particular facets of watercolour.
The bringing together of established and new artists, in a mutually-supportive and non-competitive way, will continue to be a valued characteristic of the Society, as will the exploration of the potential of watercolour and associated media to be used creatively.
Sonnie Hopkins (Updated August 2011). Revised by Ann Hasnip 2013.