All about the Albany Summer School

Very few records of the Summer Arts School before 1960 now exist, but it is known an annual program of short courses were held in Albany, mostly to benefit farmers and their families from outlying areas. Following the cessation of the Adult Education Board in 1968 it was hoped some funding from the University of Western Australia’s Country Extension Service would be available for a program of courses to continue. This did not eventuate and several local women approached the Mayor of the Town of Albany and the President of the Shire of Albany seeking support towards forming an Albany Arts Council.

Our Founders

Four women with a passion for the arts and continuing adult education were instrumental in the formation of the Albany Arts Council in May 1969. These ladies have all since passed away but their vision for a continuing Arts School in Albany has been realised with an annual program of more than 60 courses that includes, among others, fine arts and crafts, the sciences, history, geography, the environment, lifestyle and wellbeing, music, dance, literature, cooking and children’s activities.

Ms Dorrit Hunt

Mrs Dorrit Hunt

Dorrit was born in Essex England and her family emigrated to Denmark, Western Australia in 1910. She became a teacher and taught for many years at St Mary’s School, West Perth and then at Albany High School until her retirement. Her involvement in the Albany Arts Council, Albany Summer School and the Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany are just a few of many of the varied projects that Dorrit helped to bring to fruition.

Mrs Mary Thomson

Mrs Mary Thomson

Mary was perhaps best known for her strong character and ability to mobilise the community to get many important projects and events organised. As well as her involvement with many, many local organisations, she was a driving force behind the beginnings of the Albany Summer School and the Albany Arts Council. She was an active member of the organising committee for many years and together with her fellow-arts activist, Dorrit Hunt, managed to save the Old Hospital from the wreckers, later to become the Vancouver Arts Centre. The old nurse’s quarters adjacent to the Arts Centre is named Mary Thomson House in her honour and is now used for Summer School tutor’s accommodation each year.

Mrs Joan May Campbell

Mrs Joan May Campbell

Originally from England, Joan was well known for her skills in drawing and painting and her passion for contemporary art practice which led her to complete an Associateship in Art, studying Art Education. Joan had an ongoing interest in the Summer School and was a tutor in painting and drawing in the early years of the Summer School. She was active in the push for an A class Art Gallery in Albany, which has still not been established.

Mrs Dorothy Morgan

Mrs Dorothy Morgan

Dorothy was born and grew up in Western Australia and soon began to show a wide interest in the arts, mainly textiles, literature, drama and music. She completed a four-year Arts Diploma with a major in textiles and when the University of W.A. Book Scheme folded in 1976, Dorothy went on to establish the Amalgamated Book Clubs of the Great Southern which now has over 60 clubs. Dorothy was associated with the Albany Summer School from its earliest years and had been a past coordinator and dedicated committee member before her death in 2016. In testament to her devotion to the Summer School Dorothy passed away just four weeks after the October committee meeting at the age of 93. Vale Dorothy Morgan OAM.

The Albany Summer School Today

A not-for-profit organisation, the Albany Summer School continues today, developing an annual program of courses for all members of the community. It is managed by a committee of fifteen people dedicated to ensuring it presents the best possible tutors for these courses. Over the years many tutors who are household names have participated in this program – Robert Juniper, Harry Butler, Jan Oldham, Raymond Omodie, Geoffrey Gibbs, Jenny McNae, Mollie McLeod, the Magic Pirate Bruce Reilly, Helmut Luekenhausen, Bronwyn Goss, John Colwill, Sabrina Hahn, Vincent Serventy, David Bromfield and many, many more.


Albany Summer School, an Illustrated History of 50 years
Julie & Ian Lund

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