Friday, 23 February 2018

The Grey Statue Auckland City

NZGraphic 05 Nov 1904

The Statue of Governor Grey now in Albert Park is one of early Auckland's signature pieces of statuary. The 21st Century Aucklander is likely to view this artwork and George Grey's career in a very different light to their 19th and 20th Century counterparts.

Edward Bartley was involved in this project. So today we explore the history of the statue -while gingerly stepping around the sensitivities associated with the gentleman represented.

A memorial committee was formed in 1898 to organise events and tributes associated with Grey's memorial day on 18 February 1899. This was a national memorial day, coinciding with similar events in Australia and South Africa.
During the Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition,1 which opened that year, donations to a memorial fund were collected. A special Exhibition Day was also organised, from which a portion of gate takings were allocated to the fund. 2
AWN 24 Feb 1899

Afterwards subsciptions were requested to top up the fund. A more permanent tribute was planned. The statue was commissioned in 1903, to which the Government contributed £100. The remainder of the cost - over £1800- was raised by those public subscriptions. It was a considerable investment made by Aucklanders.

In 1904 Edward Bartley was engaged to design a base for the statue. Once the site was finally agreed on he recommended that something in the style of Dublin's Oliver Goldsmith statue was appropriate.3

The Goldsmith statue, Trinity College Dublin. Image Dublin Tales visit here

The statue itself was produced in England by Francis J Williamson of London for £1260 and shipped to New Zealand by the Wakanui in September 1904.

This was a conservative selection of sculptor by the committee. Williamson received regular commissions from municipal and civic clients in the United Kingdom. His bust of the mature Queen Victoria was replicated many times. Critics noted his work lacked any fluid vitality but it was certainly 'appropriate' and fulfilled the intended function of commemmoration.

The marble statue was 8' high (2.4m). The granite for both pedestal and base were sourced from Coromandel, rising 14'6". Plaques on each side record Grey's service to the Empire and the tributes accorded to him by northern New Zealand:
NZH 21 Dec 1904

On 21 December 1904 the work was unveiled. Part of the proceedings included a phonograph recording made by Grey in February 1891.
AWN 29 Dec 1904

AWN 29 Dec 1904

The elevated site - at the intersection of Queen and Grey St- was well chosen. The fire-bell tower was there in Grey's time and formed a rallying point for political gatherings and temperance assemblies.

That it continued to be so is clear from this image of M J Savage addressing Aucklanders in 1912.

AWN 26 Sept 1912. note the statue's position relative to the Town Hall.

The Grey statue  moved to Albert Park in 1922, where it may be seen today. The stepped platform has been removed. This alteration to the proportions of the whole assembly presents a less than ideal composition. The work was never intended to retire into a restful or contemplative park atmosphere.

Image APL E7-23 Albert Park

It may be that the intention was to more remove Aucklander's political gathering place.  In declaring the Governor's memorial a traffic hazard were the civic planners hoping to dampen the rallying leadership of strong personalities -by then more feared than in colonial days?

Certainly statuary encapsulates the values of the times in which they were made. Each generation views their own cultural- and sculptural- story through the lens of their own time and debates their erection or removal accordingly. Historian Grant Morris discussed these issues in a September 2017 interview recorded here. Enjoy.

1. see more information here
2. NZH 24 Jan 1899
3. AS 26 May 1904

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition 1898 pt II

Last post we looked at Auckland Exhibition of 1898 and Ed Bartley's role on some of the organising committees. Here we consider the closing stages of that event and ask: what was the result?

In mid January an interactive display was held over two nights in the Choral Hall.
Here the public had the opportunity of seeing experiments in electro/magnetism and other aspects of physics provided by the University College. For many this was their first exposure to the potenial uses of electricity.
Edward Bartley and other members of the Auckland Microscopic Club were on hand with the largest collection of microscopes ever seen in the region. There were 100 laid out with specimens which the public were invited to view.1 Edward was a founder member of the organisation, which was formed in 1885, and included fellow Auckland Institute members J A Pond and Josiah Martin.
This educational focus on innovation in science, technology and research was key to the Exhibition.

A Portrait Image c 1900 BFA
The push to establish a full time technical school in Auckland was also advanced by the exhibition. Edward was one of the founders of the Auckland Technical Association which had been campaigning for technical training in Auckland. By 1895 evening classes were available but there was still no  daytime programme for school leavers. Wellington already had such a school run by the Education Board on the South Kensington School curriculum.

Only two months after the exhibition the Education Board was making enquiries about a site in Wellesley St to be a combined teacher and technical training facility. Despite the support of the University College for pre-tertiary technical training, it was the Auckland association that provided a day school. The Auckland Technical School opened in 1903.

The exhibition also measurably advanced educational opportunities for the blind. Dr Purchas' braille printing machine was both invented in Auckland and first exhibited at this Auckland event. It allowed for a semi-mechanised production of braille type by impress on a copper drum- a huge improvement on the hand punching method then in use.2

Buoyed by their local success some Auckland exhibitors were already looking to London and to the proposed Paris Exposition Universelle, the international celebration of the new century of commercial opportunity. This was a world fair due to open on 14 April 1900. The Greater Britain section had provision for New Zealand exhibits.

The Auckland exhibition was visited by Hon L L Smith of Victoria - a member of the executive committee for Greater Britain representation. In an open letter to the press he expressed the view, with regard to Paris: 'you have here the nucleus...of a first class New Zealand exhibition.'3

Northern businessmen were keen to make their own arrangements. For example the Thames Machinery Company made offers to their counterparts in Victoria and Queensland to mount a joint display of cyanide extraction techniques.4

In late January the Governor's office advised the premises would be required on the 1 March.

NZH 18 Jan 1899

There was earlier such an outcry at a suggested closing date of 18 February that the exhibition remained open until the last available day -28th February. Not only did the event run at a profit, it was held to have fulfilled the intentions of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce in that it performed 'all that was expected of it as a public educator and an advertising medium for the products of the colony.'5 

The buildings were purchased by the industrialist JJ Craig of Auckland.

The Exhibitor award medals for the exhibition. Image AWMM

For those interested in the history of exhibitions and world fairs we recommend a visit here
You may enjoy a rare film archive of Exposition Universelle Paris 1900 here

1. NZH 18 Jan 1899- 20 Jan 1899
2. Ibid 14 Jan 1899. For Dr Purchas' biography see here
3. Ibid 30 Jan 1899
4. Ibid 16 Mar 1899
5. Ibid  28 Feb 1899

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition 1898-99

The opening of the Auckland Exhibition, Auckland Weekly News 9 Dec 1898

Welcome back everyone. We are starting the research year of 2018 with a look at a summer spectacular - open from December 1898.

This is a longer post than usual. The main reason is that there is little material available in an accessible form on this topic. Our connection is Edward Bartley's involvement but we also touch here on the early history of the 'University Precinct' of Auckland- Princes St, Symonds St in particular.

In 1898 Auckland put on a great extravaganza - the Industrial and Mining Exhibition - which was part of a worldwide phenomenon begun in Europe in 1851 and continuing until the Great War.

Any adult attending the Auckland Exhibition that year could be said to belong to the 'exhibition generation'. Certainly Edward Bartley was a good example of this. He was there with his family at the Great Exhibition in London during the summer of 1851 - aged 11.

This image published by the Guardian shows the Great Exhibition buildings, London, visited by 6 million people

Coming to New Zealand three years later he must have been struck by the contrast - from Paxton's great glass house filled with technology and international design to the single storey timber stores on Auckland's waterfront.
We know he was also struck by the exquisite natural beauty of this country-first seen at that Great Exhibition- beginning his lifelong engagement with New Zealander timber, stone and vegetation.

This trans-national inter-connecting effect of the 'Exhibition' was hugely influential in forming aspirational and international patterns of thinking and being in the world. This theme has recently been explored by New Zealand historians.The PhD research of  Ewan Johnston specifically concerns the representation of Pacific peoples at exhibitions up to 1940. For this and relevant recent research refer here.

The proposal to mount an exhibition in Auckland was presented in January 1898 by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce whose president Mr Bart. Kent chaired the Executive Exhibition Committee.

The many committees and sub-committees included influencers in every area of endeavour active in Auckland at that time. Five acres were made available for showgrounds at the former Government House grounds, entered via Princes St in the central city. 70,000 square feet of covered space was specified, a cycling track and associated detached structures.

Edward was elected to the Building and Lighting Committee and to the Arts and Decorating Committee. His involvement with the Society of Arts was valued on the latter. The Choral Hall in Symonds St was to be the venue for an art exhibition open to all art society members throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Architects appointed to the Building Committee all had a hand in designing the centre piece - the main exhibition hall. De Montalk, Skinner and Arnold presented concept drawings for discussion.
Final plans were presented to the Executive, drawn up by Robert de Montalk, and accepted in April 1898.1

Sketch of the Proposed Exhibition Buildings Auckland 1898 AWN 28 May 1898

NZH 2 May 1898

This image, taken just before the opening ceremony shows the main entrance and orientation of the exhibition buildings. AWN 9 Dec 1898

The cycle track designed for the event was of concrete construction, banked for racing 5 laps to the mile. A running track was provided in the centre

The cycle track under construction AWN14 Oct 1898

The Cycle Track viewing area during the first day of the exhibition AWN 9 Dec 1898

One main focus of the Exhibition was the mineral resources of the region.  Organisers clearly intended to improve on the successful exhibitions already held in more southern provinces. 
In the words of the NZ Herald the event was 'an incontrovertible assertion of our industrial progress and an undeniable advertisement of our mineral resources.'2

Auckland emphasised the diversity as much as the technology. Coal and kauri gum from Whangarei, Dargaville and further North was found in the Minerals Court, with the latest mining and processing technology from the  gold mining strongholds of Coromandel and Thames.

The Story of Gold, as told by the Hauraki Region AWN 25 Nov 1898

Security was necessarily tight for the duration of the exhibition. Here officers are on duty at the Northland stand. AWN 16 Dec 1898 

It is noticable in the accounts and images that the standard of presentation and the content of the displays was far higher in 1898 than a modern 'expo' goer would be likely to meet today. Visitors expected to be informed as well as entertained. Some exhibitors, such as the Thames School of Mines, for their part, expected to attract a new generation into the industry.

Meanwhile in the manufacturing hall crowds of spectators gathered around the working looms of the Onehunga Woollen Mills. These recently imported machines were demonstrated by trained operators who invited close questioning by their audience.3

Luxury manufacturing in the province was also strong feature of the event. Then as now Auckland looked to American and Australian trends as much as British or local ones.

The Luxurious stand of Iredale's Ladies Wear - note the high standard of joinery and fittings on this temporary display.

A sophisticated refreshment stand - the Nathan's kiosk sold teas and iced teas throughout the event. AWN 10 Feb 1899

Arts, cultural  and sporting prowess in Auckland was equally celebrated at this exhibition. In addition to the modern sport of cycling, demonstrations of rhythmic gymnastics for youth of both genders looked forward to the health movements of the coming 20th century.
A particular highlight was the Exhibition Choir, of 600 voices, with orchestra and invited soloists performing Arthur Sullivan's 'The Golden Legend'. Music recitals and concert performances, both at exhibitor stands and other venues, occurred throughout months of the exhibition.

In our next post we consider the closing of the Exhibition and how it affected the region.

1. ref NZH 29 April 1989
2. ref NZH 28 May 1898
3. ref NZH 14 Dec 1898