Castle Hill Art Society - Judy Adam - Part 2


Interviewee: Judy Adam, born 1941

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 24th Oct 2007

Transcription: Kevin Murray, Nov 2007

This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee

Is there a particular style that your painters embrace?

There are a lot of traditional oil painters. There are getting to be a lot more water colours but with the introduction of pastel which we introduced as a subject, a section into the art several years ago. We found we are getting a lot more people painting in pastel. The mixed media is becoming quite interesting.

What is mixed media?

Mixed media can be a collage as long as it has paint. It can be paper stuck on paper it can be different paints. It can be sawdust stuck onto a board and the different textures. They can use that and the style is also contemporary usually in those areas. The only thing we do have is we mustn’t have nails and protrusions that can damage other paintings. So we don’t go in for semi modelling which a lot of societies will do. We found that duty of care comes first when it comes to people’s art work. So we keep it to very plain but very interesting work.

In your exhibitions are computer generated art works accepted?

No that is probably a section that would have to be I think on its own. We‘d like to keep people thinking and doing their art from the heart instead of using the computer, it is an aid that maybe we’re old fashioned. But we feel that if you really want to paint you should be able to use everything that you’ve got and not with assistance from a computer.

Baulkham Hills sculptor Alan Sommerville with
his sculpture of Sir Henry Parkes

Do you paint on silk and materials?

Members do we have people paint on tiles, paint on silk, lots of mediums. In the Castle Hill Show we have the Craft/Art section which has silks and all those things that we keep not actually on our entry form. So that you’ve got to separate them. But they’re all still part of the art scene well and truly.

What about painting on ceramics and pottery?

Yes but we don’t exhibit those in our show itself. The sculpture is our main thing beside the actual painting. It’s more I suppose one could call it fine art and the other goes to a craft. So it’s kept in a separate section.

Tell me about the sculpture?

We started sculpture some years ago and we had very talented members there was John Gowlland.We got in touch with the sculpture society and spoke to Alan Somerville who has done the sculpture for the ANZAC bridge and Sir Henry Parkes in Moore Park. Fred Alwahan from out here who is a local resident and they helped us get the first exhibition off the ground which was wonderful. It was very well received. It’s now an integral part of the Orange Blosson Festival.

So sculpture is an important part of the art scene in Baulkham Hills Shire is it?


Who were those better known artists, members of the Arts Society?

Well we have Leeka Gruzdeff she’s been a teacher as well for many years. She was one of my teachers. We have Colina Grant, Elizabeth Krause, there’s Pam Lee. Pam was commissioned by the council to paint and record old buildings of the shire. So they had the originals and all the cards are there for people in the council. Elizabeth Krause and Colina Grant have won the artist of the year for the Arts Societies of Sydney several times. Quite a lot of members have done very well. Joy Churchill who is not painting anymore, she did very well and she was commissioned by the South Australian government at one stage to do a painting. People have got work all over.

The Orange Blossom Festival is one of the major events in the Shire and the art is very important in that. Tell me the prizes that are available for people who enter that particular art contest for the Orange Blossom Festival?

Well our main sponsor is the Baulkham Hills Shire Council, then we have a wonderful sponsor with Andrew Lishmund who is a private citizen and has sponsored for many years. John Price from Cotswold Framing he’s been sponsoring for many years. We get different sponsors at times. Dural Country Club, E J Framing it does change over the years. The Art Society also sponsors awards for that. We have a special merit award for the members of the society and that one goes through the Agricultural Show. Everybody gets an equal go really.

Vincent Fairfax even offered an Art Prize. How did that come about?

Sir Vincent Fairfax came to the Castle Hill Show and came and saw the art. I was on duty and he asked me “would we like to have sponsorship money if he sponsored an award”. Of course I said “yes thank you very much”. So we have that and that’s now the memorial award as Sir Vincent has passed on. We also have another memorial award for Frank Ireland who was one of the founding members. That’s down at the Agricultural Show. The Agricultural Show sponsor the Agricultural Section. We have a theme of agriculture they help us in that section as well.

Castle Hill Art Society members in their Orange Blossum Festival float 1980s

You get support from the sponsors do you?

Oh yes we wouldn’t be able to afford to give the prizes if we didn’t have our sponsors. They’re very important.

Now the Baulkham Hills Council Acquisitive Award which I think is fifteen hundred dollars. When does that get handed out?

That’s at the Orange Blossom Festival and they receive the painting. The Council have quite a good gallery or a list of paintings that would make a good gallery in their buildings. There’s some wonderful work. If you look back over the years it’s thirty eight years of paintings that they’ve got. So they’ve got that. They also sponsor an acquisitive in the Castle Hill Show and that’s not quite as much. So it’s not a lesser painting but maybe smaller painting than they get in the Orange Blossom.


The Society has been going for forty years now. Do you have any honorary life members, honorary life patrons?

We have Andrew Lishmund as an honorary life patron. As I said earlier as a local citizen I think it’s pretty wonderful his support for the society. The members that are honorary members the late Marj Allnutt and Win Jensen were honorary members they founded the society. At the moment we have got Beth Burgess who is eighty two, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me telling you that. She’s still teaching art which I think is absolutely wonderful. We’ve got Fred Shubach who was the treasurer for many years. Shirley Roberts who was on the committee for sixteen years, Mary Herbert who was our secretary she was the longest serving secretary. The longest serving president Betty Harrison, Evelyn Hill and myself we’re all honorary life members.

What is the importance of the Art Society do you think in the Shire’s community life? How does that all work out?

I think that art is very important in the fact that you need a balance in life. I think there is an awful lot of sport promoted throughout the shire for the young children. That’s lovely and that’s healthy but I still think they need a balance where they see the cultural side. It’s not just saying an Australian culture its an international culture and all our children will get and some of the adults from different nationalities. So we’re learning from them and I think this is a great way to integrate art with everybody in the community.

It’s also a very necessary form of self expression isn’t it?

Oh wonderful yes it’s better than tearing around in a car and doing silly things isn’t it? It’s a form of discipline too, children must learn discipline and we have to keep that up as we keep painting.

How does the community look upon the Art Society?

I think very favourably. If we have an exhibition in a community area we get very good reports and people come to the Orange Blossom and have a look and the Agricultural Show. We find that people are not averse to paintings. I think that would like to own them, but they would like them for nothing unfortunately. I’d say on the average most people in the Shire appreciate art, whether it be music, theatre or painting.

As you know in all art forms there can be controversy. Even the Archibald itself had controversy with the painting of Joshua Smith I think it was, by Dobell in the forties because it was a caricature. Have there been any scandals or controversial paintings done by the society that has been notorious?

Not our society no I think that you’ll find that they're too traditional over here to do that. No I think they’ve been in and had a look at some of these things. Eyebrows have been raised at the Archibald. There was a painting some years ago of a man watering the lawn and it was all green and there was supposed to be a spout and a little figure in the middle of it. That did raise the eyebrows of some members because they felt that definitely was not a portrait.

But that’s about as controversial as its got has it?


You’re fairly safe then.

The Governor, Professor Marie Bashir, at the Castle
Hill Show accepts painting by Judy Adam 2006

What’s the Castle Hill Society’s links with the Combined Societies of Sydney which is an umbrella group for all the art societies isn’t it?

Years ago back in the eighties one of the members from Drummoyne was talking to us and a few others and we decided that may be it would be an idea if the societies could meet together and pool ideas and see if we could form an umbrella and give us a little strength. So we used to meet and have an outdoor painting day. We’d go over to Mona Vale or down to Drummoyne or down to Sutherland or come here. It started from there and we decided it would be good if we could have tutors. We went up to Meroo at Kurrajong and saw the people that ran that and asked if they’d let us have it for a weekend. We would pay and they had accommodation there and there was a huge hall and they said they’d organise food. So we started organising this and people would pay to go for the weekend. In that fee would be their tutorials and food all combined. I think it was about seventy five dollars to start with, it was very reasonable. It has now become very big and we get artists from all over going up there and they are tutoring. People can pick whichever medium they wish. It’s a wonderful thing. Then we hold the Art Awards down at the museum in Darling Harbour, Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour. That is for members from each society and that’s held about January 26th. Its a few days over that long weekend so members can all enter that and that’s judged and the paintings are for sale down at Darling Harbour. So that gives you more exposure.

Which particular art related activities are you personally involved with still?

With painting, I love pastels, I like still life, I like landscape. I’m afraid it depends on how I’m feeling and what subject takes my fancy at the time. I just love painting.

You still teach children?

No only my grandchildren I have adults I teach adults.

Castle Hill Art Society members attend adult classes at The White House

How often do you attend meetings of the Art Society?

We have the demonstration once a month and we have the committee meeting the week after. They’re our main meetings - the first Wednesday of the month is the demonstration, and the next week is our committee meeting.

What’s the biggest challenge do you think that the Art Society’s faced up to this point.

I think probably keeping the momentum and the enthusiasm of the people that want to run it. Keeping young people interested in the society. We’ve kept working very hard and I think that it’s paid off over the years. The challenge is as I said to keep their interest and to keep it so that it’s not just the same mundane oil, water colour, flowers and gum trees. Trying to make it more interesting not only for the spectators but for the participants.

So what do you think the future of the Art Society is likely to be?

Well I hope it will keep going and growing and I think the art will change. I think there will probably be more contemporary than traditional as the time goes on. Maybe there’ll be more of a history of what’s going on in the art. Whereas I think at the moment and for the last probably forty years we still have that very traditional look. But now the young ones are painting history as they see it not just a face or a tree. They’re painting how they feel.

So they’re more interesting now, the paintings than they used to be?

Sometimes, I think sometime they get rather dark which I find a little disturbing. But then the last Orange Blossom the work by the children was bright and colourful and absolutely wonderful. So the future is I think as the world goes.

Riding for the Disable at Kellyville is supported by Castle Hill Art Society

How what other volunteering activities are you personally involved with?

Well I’ve been involved with RDA Riding for the Disabled since 1977 and I don’t actually do the physical work now. My paintings I can give to them and they can make money from that so I’m involved with that. I do a bit of fund raising for the North Shore Heart Foundation.

So Judy how would you sum up the artistic life and endeavours of the people of the Baulkham Hills Shire?

I think that there is plenty. They have ballet and they have ethnic dancing. There is the Castle Hill Players which has a theatre going all year round. I think the only time they don’t have anything is right on Christmas and the Castle Hill Show because the show takes over then. There’s music, there’s all forms of art. The entertainment centre is very popular and that has some wonderful programmes going through there. We have some very good artists, popular artists that live in the shire. People that have probably brought more in name to the shire, like Frank Ifield and Delta Goodrum. They live here but they're international but it still brings it back to the shire that there is music in the shire. I think it’s growing well.