Shire of Narrogin Art Collections

Train artwork by John Ainsworth

Pm706 Steam Engine at Station by John Ainsworth (2016). Watercolour - Shire of Narrogin Art Collection

The Collections

The Shire of Narrogin has an important art collection, much of which is on display in the Shire’s Administration Building, located on Earl Street, Narrogin, and pieces on display are refreshed through the collection from time to time. Individuals seeking to view the works on display are welcome to make an appointment with the Shire's Administration.

Works are displayed from time to time at other venues such as at Jessie House, the R.W. (Bob) Farr Memorial Library, the Narrogin Reception Centre and planned also to be on display at the Historic Railway Station and Visitor Centre on Pioneer Drive.

There are four distinct collections:

The first, the Sir Claude Hotchin Collection, was founded in 1953, through a significant bequest of 30 artworks from Sir Claude Hotchin OBE. Over the years Hotchin continued to donate artworks. The last discernible gift being in 1972. The total number of works gifted to the Shire now totals 39.

Other works were acquired by the former Town of Narrogin on an ad-hoc basis and as part of the former Town of Narrogin’s Annual Art Exhibition and through art acquisition generally.

Following the merger of the former Shire of Narrogin and former Town of Narrogin to form the Shire of Narrogin in 2016, the Shire's collection contains many important works by renowned 20th century Australian and Western Australian artists, and makes it one of the most significant local government art collections in Western Australia.

The people of the Shire of Narrogin are very fortunate to have such a fine art collection. It remains a testament to Sir Claude Hotchin's vision in bringing such quality artworks to the people of regional Western Australia.

Sir Claude Hotchin OBE Collection

Sir Hotchin was born in South Australia in 1909 and moved to Perth in 1925 with his wife Marianne.

He always enjoyed visiting art galleries and gradually started to collect his own artwork which he displayed in his home, which soon became a place that friends and artists would visit and gather.  In 1947 he established the 'Claude Hotchin Art Galleries' on Hay Street in Perth, which was managed by his daughter Margaret.

The gallery operated for five years and during that time hosted over 76 exhibitions and displayed more than 3000 original pieces of work.

Between 1948 and 1977, Sir Hotchin donated an estimated number of 2000 paintings to approximately 14 public institutions throughout WA such as public art galleries, councils and most famously the Royal Perth Hospital and the University of Western Australia.

The Town of Narrogin was gifted a number of artworks along with the Cities of Bunbury, Geraldton, Albany and Kalgoorlie, and the Shires of Katanning, Northam, Manjimup, and Collie, amongst others.

The Shire's collection is part of the legacy that Sir Hotchin left the State and remains an important cultural asset of the Shire.  The Shire continues to curate, exhibit and preserve the collection for current and future generations.

The collection celebrates the important contribution of artists such as Howard Taylor, Helen Smith and Guy Grey-Smith, as well encourages and appreciates the important contribution that local professional and amateur artists make in our community. 

By displaying these works, and showcasing them from time to time and also digitally here, the Shire continues to honour Sir Hotchin's original intention behind gifting the artwork – to provide regional people with exposure to some of the best visual arts practices that occurred in WA at the time.  His wish was to encourage enjoyment and participation in the arts, support for visual artists and to raise the general level of cultural appreciation of the audience.

The artworks now in the Shire’s Sir Claude Hotchin OBE Collection are detailed here.

Carol & Peter Taylor Art Collection

In 2015, Sir Claude’s legacy was continued by a significant bequest, to the former Town of Narrogin, from local retired farmer Peter Taylor, on behalf of his late wife (Carol) and himself.  This is known as the ‘Carol & Peter Taylor Art Collection’.

This collection comprises 117 individual pieces from renowned Australian and regional artists and are paintings on canvas in oil and watercolours, as well as several photographs.

The Shire of Narrogin remains for ever thankful for this truly kind and generous bequest. These artworks in the Shire’s Carol & Peter Taylor Art Collection are detailed here.

The following is an extract from ABC Great Southern  / By Christine Layton and Leah McLennan, Posted Friday 3 June 2016

Secret art collection discovered by late woman's husband goes on show

"A secret art collection the late Carol Taylor hid for decades is finally on display after being discovered by her husband.

Mrs Taylor liked nothing more than spending her weekends travelling to Perth with a friend to visit art galleries and buy paintings.

When she would return to her farmhouse in Narrogin in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, Mrs Taylor would squirrel away her purchases, keeping most of them out of sight of her husband Peter Taylor.

Over a period of about 10 years in the 1980s, she built up quite a sizeable collection of paintings, drawings and etchings, mostly landscapes by Western Australian artists, which she kept hidden away in her sewing room.

She was inspired by the collection of Sir Claude Hotchin, a philanthropist who donated significant artworks to towns across regional WA, including Narrogin.

"The Claude Hotchin bequest was a record of all the history of WA artists from about 1890 through to the 1950s," Mr Taylor said.

"While she was checking that out she thought 'if he can have a bequest I might start a collection of my own'.

While Mr Taylor knew about some of the paintings his wife had purchased, it was only after she began to be affected by Alzheimer's in 2002 and the couple had to move into town from their farm that Mr Taylor realised the extent of her collection.

"I had to shift everything from the house on the farm to town which meant I had to get into that room," he said.

"When I got in there, there were actually around 135 paintings in there.

"To my shame I just chucked them in the back of the ute and then I just stacked them in a room in my house where they stayed for 10 or 15 years."

After Mrs Taylor sadly passed away in 2012, Mr Taylor made the decision to donate the entire art collection to the Narrogin community, in memory of his much loved and admired wife.

"Eventually I thought I had to do something about it, so I rang up the town council and said I would give them to them," he said.

The collection of predominantly landscape pieces includes works by a number of nationally significant artists such as Sir Hans Heysen, S.T. Gill, Henri van Raalte, Harald Vike and George Pitt Morision."

Carol Taylor

“It is a comprehensive collection of W.A. Art and Artists, together with works by Australian artists,
including the finest Hans Heysen watercolour I have seen in years.
But, more than this, it is a story of affection, trust and generosity,
and I hope the address by Peter Taylor has been recorded, for, in its
humble way, it was as grand a speech as I have heard”.
Arthur Spartalis, Fine Art Dealer

Shire of Narrogin Art Acquisition Collection

Over the years the former Town of Narrogin has commissioned individual art work and or acquired art or artefacts as part of an Annual Art Awards.

These pieces now in the Shire’s Art Acquisition Collection are detailed here.

Shire of Narrogin Public Art Collection

Public art is the practice of involving experienced artists in the conception and development of artwork and using their training and imaginative skills in the transformation of a public space. Public art is specifically commissioned for a known site and its audience is the public or community – be it a social, tourist or working community – occupying that space.

The former Town of Narrogin and former Shire of Narrogin have commissioned a number of public art works over the years and these continue to be enjoyed at the following locations around the Townsites of Narrogin and Highbury within the Shire.

These installations now in the Shire’s Public Art Collection are detailed here.