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ADFAS Pokolbin Chairman's report 2019

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Chairman’s Report ADFAS Pokolbin 2019

It’s not been a year without incident!

Thank goodness for the Art in its broadest sense and the comfort it brings.

Classically art is defined as the skill derived as a result of knowledge and practice of the art of living. Indeed art reflects all aspects of fundamental human activity. It can be the touchstone that brings or restores balance to our lives.

As we sit in the Pokolbin Performing Arts center listing to our visiting lecturers we can be transported to places and ideas that invigorate our existence.

Art is a central activity of being Human, combining abstract notions and ideas, external actions and forces of the environment, mental and physical influences while working with materials to express our feelings and please or not, our senses.

Cicero the Roman father of language once said “nothing that is human is alien to me” It is this complex mix that is humanity that enables us to deal with the unexpected, seek solace in the fine and decorative arts that surround us. The arts have recorded all aspects of life and if we allow them into our minds and senses they can be a means of dealing with what is before us.

It is to me interesting to note how our western culture is soaked in the arts of Rome and Greece. The Liberal arts (the arts of a free or liberated person) classically-grammar, logic, rhetoric, poetry along with mathematics, geometry, music and, astronomy arose from that time with the intent of educating a ruling class. Fine arts fall into this category as a result of the Italian Renaissance theorist Vasari who promoted the art of Painting as an intellectual pursuit. ( ignore the hands-on, paint, brushes canvases, boards, mess etc.)

In contrast, the sordid or servile arts, those that were carried out by slaves, unbecoming of a free man. These were all those sculptures and wall paintings from antiquity done by slaves. Things of practical impact made with their hands-the work of a much needed lower class to maintain their civilization. The objects and crafts are seen as functional – textiles, gold and silversmiths work, furniture for instance. As St Thomas Aquinas succinctly put it “ those which are ordered to some utility to be attained through action are called Servile arts” the arts of Work and saleable products. As opposed to the arts of Knowledge-the liberal arts which are not for sale as functional pieces but rather have their justification in their ideas and intellectual input.

Our British and Western heritage artificially created a class division between the Fine and Decorative arts from the time of the Renaissance until the Arts and Craft movement narrowed the gap.

So there we have it, ADFAS is a society that combines both these historical elements and we can enjoy the aesthetics and outcome of both approaches. In Australia, in particular, the class issue is not strong as most of us work for a living and are not prisoners of our European past. The fine institutions of the Mechanics School of Arts started in the 1820s served to educate the colonialists in a broad range of areas, and people were hungry for the knowledge they conveyed.

When it comes to the arts we are truly Liberated in generally free to enjoy arts “liberalis’ and arts “mechanicae”.

With all this in mind we have come to terms with the sudden passing of our Chairman Heather McKendry and have come together as a family to morn her tragic loss. Her love of the arts was inescapable as was her enthusiasm.

It never ceases to amaze me how much you find out about people after they die and wish you had known about their interests beforehand. The enormity of the loss to her family goes without saying.

Your Committee has been guided by Heather Wilson and Judy Wearne following Heathers death, both have great corporate knowledge of the workings of ADFAS. Sadly both are leaving the Pokolbin committee but Heather remains on the national executive as our nominee.

Tracey Seath has taken on the role of secretary with great aplomb and Liz Ewen is doing a sterling job as treasurer. Dianne Nelson maintains our committee minutes and runs a very important raffle. Ian Veroni is great with the publication of our web site and the AV arrangements for meetings and Lucy Griffith masterminds the catering arrangements for the all-important “party” after the lecturers. Catriona Custance has been our liaison person working with Hunter Lifestyle Magazine on a feature on ADFAS now 30 years on.

What can I say about Judy Wearne -the movie nights are her thing as well as looking after membership and lots of other jobs that keep us going Richard Chalmers provides a comprehensive report for ADFAS which he has job shared with Michael Bennett. The committee has a self-catered welcome night for new members to help them discover what a friendly group we are!

Our Young Arts Programme is one of our major contributions and Debra McGuigan has run this so well. Encouraging participation and fostering our local students is not an easy task. The time spent is remarkable but the reward great. At the recent presentations, the glee and pride of our winners and their families was rewarding enough.

The Books for the raffle which reflect the lecture topic are sourced by Bob Cameron, this I think must be a challenge given the range of topics covered.

Next year our program covers the Fine and decorative arts from painting of under the Northan light, ceramics of the Boyd’s, music of Mozart, language of London, saving the arts from Hitler, American Regionalism, shopping at Selfridges, the return of Matthew Lang and Love, Art and Tragedy in a Cornish art colony…whats not to like?

Don’t forget -Join before or on the night of the AGM and you receive a gift card to bring a friend to one of our meetings. Remember the party after each lecture, an opportunity to meet and mingle and savor those Egg sandwiches and pies along with an occasional prawn or salt and pepper squid.

I would like to thank the Royal Oak for catering and John Zeder at the Performing arts center for their support.

Finally, I know you will all join me in thanking Heather and Judy for their years of service, purposeful contributions, and friendship.

Robert Lusby AM

Chair ADFAS Pokolbin

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