It's not a well known fact, but the city of Ballarat can lay claim to one of the oldest art tertiary schools in the country.
The Technical Art School at the School of Mines Ballarat (SMB) was founded in 1907 by amalgamating three former art schools: the Art Gallery's own school, Ballarat East, and the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute school.
Today it's known as the Arts Academy at Federation University Australia. Federation University holds a valuable collection of artworks, documents and artefacts relating to the history of the Art School, which provide unique insights into the training of women artists, some of whom went onto careers of note.
As part of the Becoming Modern exhibition currently running at the gallery, Federation University's Dr Clare Gervasoni, curator of the Art and Historical Collections, is giving a lecture on the importance of the Technical Art School in Ballarat and beyond.
"We're one of the few universities that has actual work, particularly from this era, and what you're going to see is examples of work, exam papers, how they documented their own work in the school magazines, the art books that were in their collection."
- Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition shows strong works by women artists
- Ballarat painter's work brought home by Gallery Women's Association
- Also displayed are plasterworks made by the students, dressmaking samples (the SMB built multiple classrooms for teaching clothes design and making), and an embossed shield made as a trophy. The design of such work, and even stained glass work, was a staple of the students, says Dr Gervasoni.
"There was a lot of commercial work done; the school had a wonderful reputation for the students it produced."
Some of the outstanding students included Nornie and Gilda Gude and Amalie Feild, who created many stained glass works for memorials in the city, including Ballarat High School, St Andrew's Kirk, and Lydiard St and Mount Pleasant Uniting Churches.
Dr Gervasoni's talk, Out of the Store: Federation University Collection, will be given tonight at 5.30pm in the Art Gallery of Ballarat. It is a free event.