South Island Secondary Schools’ Art Exhibition

Children's Art Show catalogue cover, 1963

George Burns whom the Burns Memorial Art Exhibition is named after was previously involved with another exhibition called the Children’s Art Show in the 1960s. It toured around the South Island and was sponsored by the Christchurch Star where George Burns was editor. The exhibition was organized by members of the Art and Crafts Branch of the Department of Education.

Foreword from 1963 catalogue by George Burns

“In a world where modern art -much of which defies interpretation-is receiving increasing prominence, an exhibition of painting by young people on the threshold of life is refreshingly different...

...We feel that through this exhibition young people are making full use of an opportunity to gain an appreciation of art to enrich their later lives, although most know they will never become another Goya or Rembrandt.”

From this 1963 catalogue I can see that it was a large diverse exhibition with the following categories on display: Painting, clay, papier mache, plaster, cut paper, fabric printing, weaving, needlework, wood, metal, stone, stabile, mobiles and large panels.

Work was selected for the exhibition by selections panels from the Arts and Craft Branch members from the South Island Education Board district and by senior pupils from Christchurch secondary schools.  Exhibitors were children aged 5-18 years.

Some local names in the 1963 exhibition include;

Murray Firman, Oamaru North School
Painting titled: In A Hurry

Noeline Berry, Waitaki Girls’ High
Painting: Horses

Ewan McDougall, Waitaki Boys’ High School
Painting: Chariot Race

John Kerr, Waitaki Boys’ High
Painting: Tenth Round

W. Smith, Waitaki Boys’ High School

John Hodge, Waitaki Boys’ High School
The Port of Oamaru

Two of these names are familiar to me. One went on to be Artist Ewan McDougall. And of course, W. Smith was the Director of the Forrester Gallery for many years. Warwick also remembers hanging this exhibition when it was in Oamaru. It was held in the in the building where the Waitaki Museum is now.

Image: photographs from December 12, 1964 when the exhibition was in Nelson.

Image: Children's Art Show catalogue cover, 1963

Image: Crucifixion by John Kelsey, age 17, with Foreward by George Burns, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963

Image: Forms for Textured Cloth, Olwyn Hoskin age 15, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963


Image: Concentration, Jenny Anderson age 16, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963

Image: The Veteran, PJ Ridder, age 16, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963

Image: Mural Design, AJW Brittenden, age 17, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963

Image: Shanty Town, Miriam Hindin, age 15, Children's Art Show catalogue, 1963


Elizabeth King

Education and Engagement Officer



Ingrid Cole