Haere ra to the Canterbury Society of Arts Gallery

On Saturday while a goodly crowd watched the demolition of the Crowne Plaza, just a step down Durham Street another historically significant building was going down.

The Canterbury Society of Arts Gallery is a rather lovely red brick building that has long had an earthquake connection – that heavy duty strapping stood out against its striking brick facade.

Canterbury Society of Arts GalleryCanterbury Society of Arts GalleryCanterbury Society of Arts Gallery

Charlies Gates reported on the fate of these buildings in The Press on 17 March 2012: Repair cost dooms old building.

Asa a heritage listed building, Rarangi Taonga: the Register of Historic Places has detailed information on its history Canterbury Society of Arts Gallery (Former) – 282-286 Durham Street:

The Canterbury Society of Arts Gallery consists of two buildings – the first designed by Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) in 1890. The second, erected next to the first, was designed by Richard Dacre Harman and completed in 1894.

I hadn’t realised this was two buildings, but in the 1921 photo below, you can see the stark windowless facade of the Benjamin Mountfort at right, and the more ornate Venetian Gothicism of the Richard Dacre Harman building.


Other significant points about this building:

  • The CSA’s first purpose-built premise designed by Mountfort in 1890 was the first art gallery to be built in Canterbury.
  • The CSA played a very significant role in the Canterbury art scene, with ‘The Group’, a circle of artists exhibiting there during the 1930s. Rita Angus, Evelyn Page and Doris Lusk were amongst the New Zealand painters associated with ‘The Group’.

Find out more:

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