OF ARTS (Inc.)

The aims and objective of the Ashburton Society of Arts (Inc) is to promote the study, practice and cultivation of the visual arts and to encourage the production of works of art. This policy has been carried right through since the Society was first formed in November 1964.

From that first meeting enthusiasm has never diminished and the consistency of membership is reflected by the list of many long standing members who still support the Society. In the early years the Society held their committee meetings in the President of the time’s residence and social meetings for members (demonstrations and talks by artists, exhibitions, art classes etc) were held by hiring a variety of halls available throughout Ashburton.

By 1980 the Society had raised enough money and received two small grants from the Department of Internal Affairs and Southern Regional Arts Council to be able to take over the Glasgow Lease on property and purchase a house at 53 Short Street, which the committee named ‘Short Street Studio’. The house required much restoration with alterations and renovation carried out by willing committee and members of the Society giving their time freely holding working bees to make the studio into a mini art gallery, workshop, meeting room and storage area up to standard to receive a permit to be used. Members also donated furnishings and plantings for landscaping. The Short Street Studio was officially opened in November 1981.

By the year 2000 the Society was financial enough to freehold the land. Ten years later the Society had raised enough capital to extend the studio to allow more room for holding classes/workshops and storage facilities whilst retaining the older part of the building for a mini gallery and library area. This extension was completed and opened for use in October 2010.

Dedicated commitment by past and present members, artists and non artists, have helped to make the Short Street Studio a welcoming place to call home where art groups meet weekly, workshops are held, tutors hire the rooms for weekly classes, cash & carry and independent member exhibitions, social meetings are held, and our library area is a nice relaxing place to browse through the many art books the Society owns.


Mrs Mary Mulligan was the Society’s first patron. She was a practising artist and painted under her maiden name Mary Darwin. One of Mary’s paintings was the first acquisition of the Society for their Heritage Collection.


Austen Deans, a fourth generation of the Canterbury Deans family, was an official World War II artist until captured. He was a well known painter of Canterbury scenes and an enthusiastic member from its inception, being made a Life Member of the Society in 1997. Sadly he passed away 18th October 2011 aged 95 years.


Kath von Tunzelmann was a founding member of the Ashburton Society of Arts and put a lot of time and energy into developing it as well as being a committee member and holding office much of that time before being made patron. She was a well known artist and many of her paintings are held in private collections throughout New Zealand. She was a Life Member and lived for the Society before her passing in early 2008.

2008 – 2018

Pamela Burdett has been a member of the Society for many years and a committee member and officer during the 1980’s. A Life Member, Pamela is a very dedicated follower and working member of the Society. Her forté is in printmaking.

2018 – present

Barbara Jaine has been involved with the Society since 1990, being President for 4 years and now a Life Member. She has had a lifelong interest in craft and art and has a very well deserved reputation in all aspects of art.

Ashburton Society of Arts caters for all people interested in art, be they total beginners, occasional painters, experienced artists or merely art observers who are interested solely in hearing, exploring and seeing about the various art forms. Membership stands at around 270 members which includes 18 Life Members.

The Society also receives news, ideas and entry forms for exhibitions from associated art societies throughout New Zealand. 

The Society welcomes new members and to join, membership joining forms are available from the Ashburton Art Gallery, or please send your name, address, phone number and email address, along with payment to PO Box 261 or to receive a membership form:

Please email or phone Kathy 027 912 4057.
The membership fee is $30 per annum.

There seems to be some misunderstanding in the community that the Ashburton Society of Arts (Inc) and the Ashburton Art Gallery are one and the same. Not so. The Ashburton Society of Arts (Inc) has its own members and premises and is run independently from the Art Gallery although both work together to foster the arts.

Want to join the ASA?

If you are interested in joining our Society please fill out the online membership form below.