Saturday, July 21, 2007

New England Stories - the Hinton Bequest

Howard Hinton


This story is a work in progress.

In response to a post I wrote in May, Marcel Proust aka marcellous kindly gave me a link to a court case involving the Hinton Collection, one of the finest collections of Australian art. Now this was a case in which I have a direct personal interest, one that combines different elements in New England's history.

As it happened, I was having lunch around that time with Annette McCarthy.

Annette and I come from different sides of New England politics.

My grandfather was the Country Party member for Armidale and then New England. He was NSW Minister for Public Instruction, now Education, at the time of the Hinton bequest to the Armidale Teacher's College.

Annette's dad Bill was the Labor Party member for Armidale. He and his wife Thelma played a key role in the establishment of the New England Regional Art Museum, the place where the Hinton collection is now held. Despite political differences, Bill was punctilious in recognising my grandfather's achievements.

Annette and I disagree on many things. Yet we also share many things. We both know what it is like to grow up in public families. We both share a concern about the decline in New England, although we may disagree to some degree about the causes and solutions. Both of us want to see the achievements of the past preserved and built on. All this meant that were both very interested in this court case.

Against this background, I wanted to write the story of the Hinton Collection from a personal perspective. In the first instance, the post that follows should be regarded as a work in progress, collecting information including visuals. This means that it will be messy for some time. I will tidy it up as I go along.

The Story

Hinton ... conceived the idea of endowing the Teachers' College, Armidale, with an art collection—S. H. Smith, director of education, co-operated with him. The first picture 'The Lock Gates' by Sir Adrian Stokes,. R.A., arrived in 1929. He gave over 1000 works to the college and an art library of some 700 volumes. He hoped to illustrate the development of Australia art from 1880, and the collection is widely recognized as a priceless anthology of the artistic impulse in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australia. Norman Lindsay described it as the only complete collection of Australian art in the country. Jock Elphick, Australian Dictionary of Biography.

It is the only collection of its kind in Australia. He [Howard Hinton] developed his collection for the purpose of encouraging artists, educating students, and for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. Former NERAM Curator Caroline Downer (source).

J. R. McGregor (now Sir James), Howard Hinton OBE, Sydney Ure Smith and myself were having lunch one day, the topic under discussion, as one could readily guess, being art. Suddenly J. R. turned to me and said, "I have a few pictures I would like to present to some educational institution. What about the Armidale Teachers' College?" Before I could reply, Howard Hinton jovially interjected - "No, you don't Jim, that's my preserve, find a College of your own!" D H Drummond, A University is Born, Angus & Robertson 1959 pp 66-67.


Court Case


Arthur Streeton's McMahon's Point Ferry (1890), another painting in the Hinton Collection.

Tom Robert's Mosman's Bay, the painting at the centre of the storm

A luncheon given to Mr Julian Ashton on the occasion of his 90th Birthday (1941) (National Library). Group portrait from left to right: Professor E.G. Waterhouse M.A., Mr Charles LLoyd Jones, Sir Lionel Lindsay, Sir Marcus Clark, Mr Howard Hinton O.B.E., Mr Ure Smith O.B.E., Will Ashton, Mr G.V.F. Mann C.B.E., Mr J.S. Watkins (standing), Mr Howard Ashton (standing), Mr Sydney Long A.R.E., Mr W. Lister Lister, Mr W.H. Ifould O.B.E., Mr Julian Ashton C.B.E., Mr B.J. Waterhouse O.B.E., F.R.I.B.A., The Hon. D.H. Drummond M.L.A.

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