Art school heritage on show in new exhibition


A major exhibition at Federation University’s Post Office Gallery in Ballarat will showcase the history of one of the University’s key predecessor institutions — the former Ballarat Technical Art School.

The ‘Educating Artists’ exhibition will illustrate the rigorous program of drawing, design and art-trade training at the Art School between the years 1907 to 1940.

It will showcase unique works of art and historical artefacts created by students and teachers, selected from Federation University’s permanent art and historical collections, as well as private and public contributions.

Established in 1870 and governed by the School of Mines Ballarat (SMB) from 1907, the art school was a leading Australian art education institution, well equipped with the assets, skills, and historic reputation necessary to surpass its provincial and metropolitan rivals.

During the 33-year principalship of artist-educator, Herbert Henry Smith, the school had a national reputation for the training of designers, craftspeople, artists and teachers.

Staffed with ambitious and skilled people, the art school was celebrated for its originality and experimentation, and recognised for launching diverse art-based careers.

The exhibition is based on doctoral research undertaken by Dr Elise Whetter highlighting the institution’s history and will feature original paintings, drawings, woodcarvings, leatherwork, metalwork, fashion and plant illustrations, as well as textile and architectural designs, exams and student memorabilia.

The exhibition is jointly curated by Dr Whetter, Federation University Art and Historical Collections Curator Clare Gervasoni and Post Office Gallery Curator Shelley Hinton.

The exhibition will be launched at the Post Office Gallery, Ballarat, on Friday 29 April 2022, at 6, for 6.30pm. It will be open to the public from Wednesday 4 May until Friday 17 June and form part of the Ballarat Heritage Festival.

For more information on the exhibition and for upcoming curator's talks, visit

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