History of Thames Art Gallery
(Thames Society of Arts)
Thames Society of Arts Inc. was formed by a group of local artists in late 1973. They had just closed a successful exhibition of their art, in the Football Club rooms (now a Gym) at the southern end of Thames town.
The need for a formal Society to encourage the many local artists in the community, was discussed over the proverbial glass of local wine.
Tuition and exhibitions, the meeting of like-minded people, and perhaps demonstrations of other crafts, some of the ideas thrown about. So, that night a steering committee was formed, Bernie Poff as President, and Phillipa Christie as secretary.
All of this finally came to fruition as an Incorporated Society in 1974.
The need for a home was paramount. The Old Thames North School was standing empty. Why not try for that ? It was the ideal answer.
Dr. Bob Edward and his wife Isla, keen promoters of both the performing arts, and the visual, approached Government, Council and Education Departments.
Finally a conclusion of ownership was reached, and through their efforts, we had the building. This was, and still is shared with the Thames Operatic Society now known as MAD - Music and Drama.
Our aim was realized. We have held many exhibitions, both members and invited artists, over the years. Weekly artist groups, Weekend Tutorials in many mediums, and regular events keep the space and our artists inspired. All enriching our knowledge. We are lucky have members from a wide area, who participate in what we offer.
And now, we have a refurbished Gallery we can be proud of, thanks to the hard work of two or three dedicated members. The Gallery was reopened with an excellent Members Exhibition, and celebrating our 40th year.
We aim to have a changing display, so there is always something new to see. The Gallery is open 7 days, and this is thanks, now, to a splendid band of volunteers.
We feel now Thames has an Arts Centre to be proud of.
History of the building
Constructed from heart kauri in simple Victorian design in1887 as Tararu School. The school was later renamed Thames North School until it closed in 1971.
This beautiful seaside building is a Heritage New Zealand historic place, Category 1 - the highest possible heritage ranking. See the Heritage NZ website for more details about the history.
Happily, the once disused building is back in use as the Thames Art Gallery and a performing arts home for Thames Music And Drama (MAD).