Contemporary Art Society Report 1978

12 August 2015
Cover for the 1978 Contemporary Art Society Annual Report
Cover for the 1978 Contemporary Art Society Annual Report

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Executive Committee
Nancy Balfour OBE   Chairman
Alistair McAlpine   Vice Chairman
Lord Croft   Honorary Treasurer
Caryl Hubbard   Honorary Secretary
Lady Vaizey
Anthony Diamond QC
Edward Lucie-Smith
Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
Catherine Curran
Joanna Drew
Gabrielie Keiller
Bryan Montgomery
Geoffrey Tucker CBE
Alan Bowness CBE
Carol Hogben
Belle Shenkman
David Brown
Robin Campbell CBE
William Packer
Ann Sutton FSIAD

Pauline Vogelpoel MBE The Director
Petronilla Spencer-Silver Organising Secretary

Committee Report for the year ended 31 December 1978
During the year Norbert Lynton and Peter Moores retired from the committee by rotation. David Brown, Robin Campbell, William Packer and Ann Sutton were elected to the committee. Muriel Wilson was cot-opted to the committee.

The principal activities of the society are to promote the development of contemporary art and to acquire works by living artists for presentation to public collections in Great Britain and the Commonwealth.

The society’s activities during the year resulted in a surplus of £3,862. The accumulated fund amounted to £15,408 at 31 December, 1978.

April 25, 1979

Chairman’s Report
This year our Annual General Meeting is being held at the Mall Galleries, by invitation of De Beers, so that the society’s members may view the collection of contemporary pictures which is being made by the firm for their new building in Charterhouse Street. A very substantial sum has been allocated by the company for this purpose and in addition its clients are presenting it with a large number of valuable paintings for its offices. These have all been chosen with the help of the Contemporary Art Society; most of this help has been provided by the Director who has given a great deal of her time recently to advising on these purchases. So our AGM is a joint celebration of a co-operative project which has been beneficial to artists, to the society and to one of our earliest corporate members. We hope that others will invite us to use our experience and independent judgment on their behalf in similar ways, as the Mobil Services Company has been doing since 1976.

During 1978 the society co-operated with another corporate member — Crown Wallcoverings of Darwen — in an undertaking which involved a competition for art students, the purchase of pictures by established artists, loans from the society’s own collection and a nation wide tour of the exhibition which resulted, under the title of “Interior Motives”. For this the company received one of the ten awards — and the only one given to a visual arts project — under a scheme inaugurated in 1978 by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts to focus attention on business support for Britain’s cultural life. Crown’s imaginative project brought publicity to the Contemporary Art Society, especially needed outside London, and we were also given four of the purchased works which will be offered to public galleries later this year. I am happy to say that Crown Wallcoverings are sponsoring a similar competition and tour in 1979 for wallhangings, under the title of “Tapestries of Today”; a member of our executive committee, Ann Sutton, has been especially helpful in arranging t his and so, as always, has Tina Caprez on behalf of Crown.

This corporate membership scheme was given a good send-off in June by the private view of the Henry Moore exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, attended by the sculptor himself; this was held under the society’s auspices thanks to Henry Moore and the Arts Council. This was followed in the Autumn by a small luncheon given by Moet et Chandon, arranged by the firm’s managing director, Patrick Forbes, and chaired by Lord Dragheda, both of whom belong to the society. Our first corporate members are listed later in this report and many more have joined since the end of 1978, including the Mobil Services Company. It is most encouraging that this new enterprise has been so warmly received; details of what it offers are at the back of this report.

For the first time our annual report lists separately the art dealers and auctioneers whose firms belong to the society; I am glad to say that several joined for the first time in 1978, including two outside Central London, and that others increased their subscriptions. Art dealers have always supported the society strongly in many different and useful ways and we are most grateful. But we also support dealers and their artists, so I hope that more of them will have joined us by the end of 1979. The society’s main source of revenue remains subscriptions from individual members, many of w hom generously pay more than the annual minimum. That minimum went up to £6 in 1978 and this brought a most satisfactory increase in the yield , without any loss in the total number of members (nearly 1400), although, as was only to be expected, more of them than usual resigned or failed to renew their subscriptions. Among our new members was the Greater London Arts Association and we would welcome more regional bodies of this kind. Naturally we would welcome more members of all kinds; may I suggest to existing members that a year’s gift subscription is a good way of telling their friends about the society?

The total amount subscribed by public galleries was also up slightly in 1978 (for the first time this is also listed separately in the accounts), although there are only two new members in this category — the Minories at Colchester and the Friends of the Lincoln Art Gallery. Altogether 92 public galleries belong and later in 1979 they will receive their reward: the work s collected by the society since 1975 will be allocated after being shown at the Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery during July at the time of the Museum Association’s annual conference in the area. This will be the first time that, the society’s distribution exhibition has been held outside of London and our thanks go to our Portsmouth friends for making this possible. Our expenditure on works of art was up very substantially in 1978, mainly because of a generous grant: of £ 20,000 from the Linbury Trust to be spent over a period on a few important works. But purchase grants from the Arts Councils of Great Britain and Scotland (the latter accompanied again by a travel grant) were also important contributions to our funds. We are most grateful for ail these grants; however, in 1978 the society itself allotted more than ever before – £10,700 — t o its buyers from its own funds. The buyers were David Brown (for Scotland), Catherine Curran, Caryl Hubbard (for the Linbury Trust! and Alistair McAlpine. The society also received with gratitude several important gifts which are listed later and a bequest from Atethea Garstin of a number of pictures by her father.

The society is happy to be offered gifts and bequests of works of high quality by contemporary artists and would like more of them, One reason why our revenue from subscriptions has gone up is our programme of trips abroad; these always attract new members. The range was very wide in 1978: Berlin in January, Madrid in March, Paris for the Cezanne exhibition in May, Venice for the Biennale in July, Provence in October and Istanbul in December. As usual we thank Mrs Slagie of Grayson Travel for making the arrangements with charm, efficiency and economy, although of course it is through the society’s personal contracts and reputation that special openings and visits to private collections of contemporary art are organised. There is not enough space to list the people who have welcomed us in this way during the year but we appreciate what all of them have done for us. Members of the CAS also joined the British Museum Society’s visit t o China in June and shared a tour to New York and Washington with the Aldeburgh Festival Society In October.

The appetite of our members for travel seems to be insatiable — fortunately, since our trips add not only to their artistic experience but also to our revenue. The British programme was equally full in 1978. In April there was a day trip to Norwich to see the new Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia and the city ‘s Castle Museum, in July we spent a weekend in Shropshire, visiting Telford New Town and the ironbridge Gorge complex and two outstanding and enjoyable collections of contemporary art belonging to Sir George and Lady Labouchere and to our Treasurer, Lord Croft; to all three of them our thanks. A t the end of September members spent a weekend in Wales, going to the Graham Sutherland Gallery at Picton Castle, where they were greeted by the Hon. Manning Phiiipps, long a member of the society himself, to galleries in Swansea and Cardiff, where they were entertained by the Welsh Arts Council, to artists’ studios and to Mr Matthew Pritchard’s interesting private collection. We are grateful to the many people who helped to make this trip a success.

In London there were two visits, each combining private collections and a dealer’s gallery. On a June evening we were invited to Chelsea by Mr and Mrs Martin Ackerman, Mr Francis Burne and the Gilbert Parr Gallery. On a Sunday in November we went to St. John’s Wood t o the houses of Mr and Mrs Lawrence Lowenthal and Mr and Mrs Charles Saatchi, to the Lisson Gailery and also to the studios of Bernard Stern and Jeanne Masoero, Members enjoyed an evening in May visiting about 30 artists in their converted warehouses in Finsbury and in October Bridget Riley, John Carter and Antanas Brazdys spent a Saturday in their studios discussing their work with our members; the Petersburg Press also opened specially for us on that day.

Our gratitude goes to all these friends w ho welcomed us so warmly and also to Editions Aiecto which in February invited the society to spend an evening at their workships in Kensington, now sadly destroyed by fire.

In March we attended the opening at Reed House, by Keith Grant of the Design Council, of “Interior Motives”, the project mentioned earlier which was sponsored jointly by Crown Wallcoverings and the CAS. This busy year had begun with a special viewing of the Dada and Surrealism exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, giving our members a chance to see it in comfort, without the huge crowds that trooped in on normal days. Another even more special occasion was the society’s private view of the exhibition in celebration of Henry Moore’s eightieth birthday at the Serpentine Gallery.

For both of these events we have to thank the Arts Council. In November the Serpentine Gallery stayed open late so that our members could see the exhibition “Scale for Sculpture”, arranged by Carol Hogben, a member of our committee, before our discussion meeting at the near-by Royal College of Art, on “Art for Public Spaces”. This was chaired by Eugene Rosenberg, another long-standing member, and the speakers on this topical subject were Wendy Taylor, William Pye (both sculptors) and John Hubbard, the painter. We are grateful to them for making this a successful and lively affair which introduced the society to a number of people, notably architects and students, who were not aware of our activities until then.

The same purpose had been served at the beginning of the year by Bryan Robertson’s lecture on ” The Condition of Art”, a continuation of one that he gave for the society at the end of 1977; we thank him too. Until August part of the society’s collection was touring under the auspices of the Arts Council w i t h our Jubilee exhibition of “Works on Paper” and until early in 1979 we also had pictures travelling with “Interior Motives”, the Crown Wallcoverings’ exhibition. Another show was put together under the title of “Today’s Art for Tomorrow’s Museums” for the Chichester and Harrogate Festivals and the society also lent a smaller group of works to the Old Town Hall Art Centre at Hemel Hempstead during the Autumn. Such exhibitions help to make the society — and the artists whose work it buys – better known, especially when, as usually happens, there is an opening party to which the press is invited.

All of this adds up to a great increase in our activities. This was made possible initially by the welcome two-year grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation , which has now ended. Fortunately, the increase in activity has also brought an improvement in our financial position. Pauline Vogelpoel, our director, and Petronilla Spencer-Silver, our organising secretary, our only employees, are still overworked and underpaid and the society’s appreciation of their efforts, heartfelt as it is, is no excuse for this unsatisfactory but so far unavoidable situation. They did, however, enjoy the aid during the spring of Julie Eaglen, a student seconded to the society from her arts administration course. More volunteers of this kind could be used were our office not so overcrowded; but it comes with the compliments of the Tate Gallery and we are very grateful for that. We are also grateful to all the members who have helped us in various ways and particularly to the members of our committee who have generously given us their time and their advice.

After our last Annual General Meeting we welcomed Robin Campbell, CBE, the recently retired Director of Art of the Arts Council, to our executive committee and later we co-opted Muriel Wilson of the British Council, who now comes up for formal election to the committee. We are also proposing that Edward Dawe, of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., be elected to the committee; he is an art collector himself and has been of the greatest assistance to us in connection not only with our co-operation with his firm but also over the enrolment of corporate members. The retiring members of the executive committee are Marina Vaizey and Anthony Diamond; we shall miss them.

As this report was completed we heard with sadness of the death of Whitney Straight; he was famous for his career in aviation and with Rolls Royce, but he was also a member of this society for many years and chairman from 1968 t o 1971. It was he who arranged the purchase by the CAS of Henry Moore’s “Knife Edge – Two Piece” which has stood in front of the House of Lords since 1967.



Honorary Treasurer’s Report
There was a surplus from operations in 1978 of £3,862 compared with one of £1,979 in 1977. The accumulated fund now stands at £15,408 as against £11,546 last year. On the income side subscriptions and donations from members rose to £15,972 as against £11,113 in the previous year. Part of this satisfactory rise must be attributed to the increased rate of subscription for individual members but no less than £2,250 of it was due to the introduction of a new class of corporate members during 1978.

General bequests and donations also rose from £.2,462 in 1977 t o £3,492 in 1978. The net profit from visits and parties at home and abroad went up from £1,579 t o £2,699 in 1978; this reflects credit on the Director and her assistant and on the organiser of our foreign tours. The sale of a residue of undistributed pictures which had never been chosen by public galleries brought in £696.

On the expenditure side there were increases in salaries and related items, In accountancy charges, in printing, postage and telephone, in the estimated cost of the Annual Report and in miscellaneous general expenses, all of which are itemised in the accounts. Although much of this rise represents a general inflation of costs, some of it is undoubtedly due to the increase in the activities of the Society during 1978. The total of our administrative expenses rose from £10,827 in 1977 to £13,832 in 1978.

The largest increase, however, was that of over £8,000 in our outgoings for works of art, bringing us up to the record figure of £22,363 in spending for this purpose; this is an increase that we welcome, since to acquire pictures and sculptures for public collections is t he primary purpose of our operations. Just over half of this amount was covered by grants for purchases, amounting to £11,625, which are also referred to in the chairman’s report.

In the circumstances the results for the year were satisfactory since the considerable increase on the expenditure side was more than offset by increases in subscriptions and donations from our members and also in general donations, both of which showed a noticeable rise in support from corporate sources.


Buyer: David Brown
Elizabeth Blackadder, The Black Fish, 1978 (watercolour on paper)
Bruce McLean, Their Grassy Places, 1969 {photograph 1/2.)
John McLean, Catterline, 1978 {acrylic on canvas)
Talbert Mclean, Scree, 1976 (acrylic on canvas)
Alexander Moffat, Ring Mistress 1 (Susie Raeburn), 1977 (oil on canvas)
Graeme Murray, Pillar, 1978 (ceramic)
Ainslie Yule, Composition, 1977 (ink, charcoal and powder colour)

Buyer: Catherine Curran
Boyd and Evans, Untitled drawing, 1971 (acrylic and pencil)
Prunella Clough, Recollection, 1976 (oil on canvas)
Bernard Cohen, Untitled , 1975 (gouache)
William Defafield Cook, Pumpkin, 1976 (drawing)
Ken Draper, Silent confrontation , 1978 (pastel and oil crayon on paper)
Nicholas Evans, Trouble in the 20’s, 1978 foil on board)
Helene Fesenmaier, Inwardness (sixth study), 1978 (drawing)
John Golding, Untitled , 1977-78/2 (pastel)
Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of Mrs Rhoda Cohen, 1962 (oil on wood)
David King, Paper Thin Series, 1977 ( p o r t f o l i o of six etchings)
Kenneth Martin, Metamorphoses, June 1977 (pencil, ink and gouache)
Anne Norwich, Reading, 1977 (acrylic on canvas)
Tom Phillips, Eleven emblems of violence, 1976 (screenprint)
Lawrence Preece, A l t e r n a t i v e Directions, 1978 (acrylic on c o t t o n duck)
William Pye, Xeeque (small version), 1975 (nickel plated steel, stainless steel and cables)
Gary Wragg, Untitled , 1976 (drawing)

Buyer: Caryl Hubbard
John Hoyland, Trickster — 8.11.77 (acrylic on canvas)
Lawrence Preece, Cloche, 1978 (acrylic on cotton duck)

Buyer: Alistair McAlpine

Robyn Denny, 77-5, 1977 (gouache and crayon on paper)
Robyn Denny, 77-2, 1977 (gouache and crayon on paper)
Elizabeth Frink, Man on a Horse, 1969 (pencil and wash)
Elizabeth Frink, Wild Boar, 1969 (pencil and wash)
Barry Flanagan, Alan Lecker 1, 1967-68 (felt pen drawing)
Barry Flanagan, Woman on a couch, 1968 (pencil on paper)
Terry Frost, Untitled , May 1970 (gouache)
Terry Frost, Red, Black and White, 21.2.73. (collage)
Gordon House, Multi Ladder Case (Blue), 1976-77 (pen, ink and crayon on paper)
Michael Moon, Varengeville, 1978 (acrylic and mixed media on unbleached calico)
Peter Phillips, 5X4/Signat, 1974 (pencil)
William Turnbull, Drawing of a sculpture, 1949 (pencil)
William Turnbull, Untitled , 1949 (watercolour and charcoal)

Gifts to the Society from:
Crown Wallcoverings – William Brooker, “Still Life in a Harsh Light” (oil on canvas), Ivon Hitchens, ” Four Studies for a Sibylline Courtyard ” (oil on canvas), Ceri Richards, ” Blue Figures, 1949″ (oil on canvas), Peter Unsworth, “Frogspawn” (oil on canvas)

C. Trusted – Malcolm Hughes, “Grey and aluminium” 1967 (oil on canvas)
Lord Esher – Colin Cina, “Untitled ” (acrylic on canvas)
An anonymous donor – Anthony Caro, ” Chola” 1978 (Steel, rusted & varnished)
Bequest to the Society – From Alethea Garstin, forty seven paintings by Norman Garstin.

Loans made by the Society during 1978

Ian McKeever, “Sand and Sea, No 8 ” (drawing) to spectra A r t s , Newcastle,
Knighton Hosking, ” Earth , Sky and Water IV ” (acrylic on canvas) to South West Arts
Eileen Lawrence, “Scroll 2” (watercolour drawing), “Prayer Stick, 1977 {watercolour drawing) to Arnolfini, Bristol and Chapter Art, Cardiff
Carl Plackrnan, Drawing for Relationships, 1977 (charcoal and wash), Untitled , 1975 (drawing) to exhibition “Scale for Sculpture ” at Serpentine Gallery and subsequent tour.
Glen Onwin , “Recovery of Dissolved Objects” 1977, (eight large photomontages) to Arnolfini touring exhibition.
Group of twenty-six paintings ” Today’s Art for Tomorrow’s Museums” to Chichester 903 Festivities and to the Harrogate Festival.
Group of twenty-five paintings to The Old Town Hall Arts Centre, Hemel Hempstead.
Paintings by Boyd and Evans, Stephen Buckley, T im Head, Peter Kinley, lan McCulloch, John Pearson, William Scott, Patrick Symons and David Tindle to Crown Wallcoverings and Contemporary Art Society touring exhibition “Interior Motives”.
Paintings to the Open University,
Theodore Stamos “Night and Day” (oil) lent by Lady Dale to the United States Embassy through the Contemporary Art Society.

 To download the Contemporary Art Society Report for 1978 (pdf) click here


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