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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 16 July 20, 1938

Children's Art

page 3

Children's Art

With an impression of miles and miles of mounted pictures, of a bewildering kaleidoscope of colour, and an unusually animated, crowd. I entered the Art Gallery to see the exhibition of children's art which has been collected with such obvious patience and perseverance from nine countries. If those whose hours of time lie behind the collecting, sorting and mounting of these exhibits are looking for reward they will feel gratified by the Interest they have aroused, for people are coming up curious, amused and a trifle sceptical, and going away still curious, more awed than amused and Intensely aware of something missed. The scepticism is still there.


As one stands back on one's heels and looks and looks, a feeling of sympathy grows for the wayback Australian beholding the aard-vark, and one feels inclined to say in some humility, "Gosh-darn, there ain't no such thing," for assuredly it is hard to believe that some of the conceptions are entirely the product of child minds. Training can perfect technique, but what is it giving such a curiously penetrating conception as one sees in quite a number of the portaits and designs? "Cain and Abel" is a masterpiece which revea's intense feeling and extraordinary technical ability; two studies by a New Zealand girl, "The Dancer" and "Getting Up," show an amazing feeling for colour and design, and a particularly new angle of approach to descriptive work. Some of the abstract designs front Canada give no clue to let one discover how then were conceived, though the result is charming.

It is in design work and pattern making particularly that comparison between countries is interesting—and some reflection of the nature of national spirit can be observed, From [unclear: nlia] come meticulously accurate mosaic patterns in the tradition of Indian weaving; Canada sends designs that are bold, splashy and amusing; New Zealand's are descriptive; Australia's style is less abstract than the Canadian, but is as vigorous and

"Free Expression" work which has tended to become almost an hysteria among school teachers lately makes an interesting section. It is a delight to see the spontaneous and refreshing results coming from the Horace Mann School in New York, where kindergarten children can make a frieze of brightly coloured animals, draw amusing sketches of each other, pictures of going walking with Papa fishing off the wharf, flying kites and helping on washing day—these scenes are drawn from vivid experience in vivid colours and show that Instruction may Improve technique but with young children does not necessarily cloud their naive conception. These drawings are utterly different from the Swiss ones, where detail and not vigour seem of first importance.

Among portraits again national differences were obvious. Japanese children had a direct and simple method of baldly drawing the subject—with hard bright colours and an oddly pleasing effect: the Indian style is subtle, traditional and romantic: the American pictures of "Myself" and "Teacher" and others were candid and quaint.

Withal, this exhibition is exciting.