During the 1950s, the Benoni Art Society (BAS) was hailed as the “on the reef” art society by many in the art fraternity.
Now, as the society prepares to celebrate its 75th year, the committee hopes to grow the organization with more young and passionate artists under its umbrella.
Paul Botes (81) from Farrarmere, has been president of BAS for 22 years and admits that joining the company as a 28-year-old among a group of elderly women in 1969 helped him hone his skills and fire his passion for art.
The company was founded in 1947 by Elizabeth Clarke and was named Scarlet Hat Studio after her favorite helmet, which she also lovingly painted.
The first studio was located in Clarke’s garage on Woburn Avenue but moved to Benoni Town Hall in 1953, shortly after Clarke’s move.
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In 1966, the organization changed its name to the Red Hat Society.
Since then, the society has met in various locations, such as the Old Library as well as the Benoni Museum, but for the past 15 years has called Holy Trinity Church, Northmead, its home.
According to Botes, despite the radical change in the art world with many digital methods and the public’s choice to buy mass-produced prints, companies like BAS remain relevant, offering invaluable advice to its 20 veterans as well as budding artists.
“Our monthly meetings feature workshops from well-known artists, sharing their techniques and insights with members, often forcing us to re-evaluate our styles and challenging us to explore new creative avenues,” he said. .
“Although many of us are well established in the artistic sphere, we strive to mentor young artists not only in the technical but also in the business aspects of harnessing your creativity.”
Botes added that practicing art is an isolating profession, and meeting other like-minded people every month adds social stimulation to an internal process.
To celebrate the company’s platinum jubilee, BAS has partnered with the Benoni Art Route and its members will also be exhibiting their works at CR Swart Park, Sarel Cilliers Street, Rynfield on 29 May and 26 June from 9.00am.
For more information about BAS and how to reach out, email Paul at [email protected]
Highlights of the 75th anniversary of the BAS:
• Members exhibited in Homestead Park and held workshops in the Creativity Room of the Benoni Museum.
• Dorine Ward, long-time committee member and oldest member, celebrated her 92nd birthday with her BAS parents.
• The first art exhibition hosted at John Barrable Hall was organized by Rotary Benoni during their Hobbitech Fair and became an annual event for five consecutive years.
• A new group of exhibitors has been formed under the name of Artist Working Together (AWT). Their mission was to identify affordable exhibition opportunities for all East Rand artists. Members of the BAS became members of the AWT, which led to the society no longer organizing exhibitions.
• In 2014, the Benoni Art Route was founded where art lovers traveled from place to place to view a variety of artistic disciplines.
After six years, it became a monthly communal exhibit at CR Swart Park.
BAS members, along with other interested artists, are involved in driving this initiative, which has become a major attraction.
• Members who have contributed to the success of the society:
President, Paul Botes.
Hilda Adams, president from the 80s to the 90s.
Dirk van Niekerk, vice-president in the 80s and 90s.
Chris Ballantine, president from 1970 to the 1990s.
Celia Rustage (treasurer).
Zack de Beer was critical.
Danie Strijdom, architect and artist held the position of secretary from 2011 to 2016.
Des Price, the librarian from 2002 to 2021.
Larry Mervitz served as Treasurer and Secretary from 2010 to 2021.
Val Winstanley served as secretary from 1996 to 2003.
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