Elam School of Fine Arts

The Elam School of Fine Arts, founded by John Edward Elam, is part of the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland. Students study degrees in fine art with an emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach. The school is located across three buildings, the Mondrian building, Building 431 (or the "Main" fine arts building), and Elam B, which includes the studios for postgraduate and doctoral students on Princes Street, in central Auckland, New Zealand.


The school was founded in 1890 by Elam, and incorporated a School of Design which had been established and maintained for 11 years by Sir Logan Campbell. Edward William Payton was the first director, retiring in 1924 after 35 years.[2] Archie Fisher was appointed principal in 1924 and was instrumental in the school's inclusion within the University of Auckland in 1950.[3] A fire in 1949 which destroyed the school and library was the catalyst that resulted in joining with the University as well as the loss of pre-1950 administrative records.[4]

In 1994 the Sargeson Trust, named after Frank Sargeson, gave the George Fraser Gallery, located in the downstairs premises of a historic stables in Princes St, to the students of Elam for an exhibition space.[5] The Fine Arts Library houses New Zealand's largest collection of specialist monographs, and has an extensive collection of art books, which is believed to be the largest in New Zealand.[6]

Notable staff and alumni

The school has had a significant effect on the art of New Zealand. Notable alumni include:

  • Gretchen Albrecht
  • Rita Angus
  • George Baloghy
  • Don Binney
  • Peter Brown
  • Niki Caro
  • Melvin Day
  • Lynley Dodd
  • Jan Nigro
  • Michael Parekowhai
  • Ian Scott
  • John Weeks
  • Lois White
  • Ellen von Meyern
  • Stella Corkery
  • Bessie Christie
  • Jean Horsley
  • Selina Foote
  • Vida Steinert
  • Toby Raine[7]

Notable staff to have worked at Elam include art historian Michael Dunn who was head of the school from 1994 to 2006.

Coordinates: 36°51′20″S 174°46′05″E / 36.855469°S 174.767922°E / -36.855469; 174.767922


  1. ^ "Fine Arts academic staff - The University of Auckland". www.creative.auckland.ac.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^ National Library of New Zealand. "Papers Past – Obituary (New Zealand Herald, Volume 81, Issue 25016, 1944-10-05)". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  3. ^ Ian Thwaites & Rie Fletcher (2004). We Learnt to See: Elam's Rutland Group 1935-1958. Puriri Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 0-908943-27-X.
  4. ^ "A History Of The University Of Auckland Fine Arts Library (1950-2010)". lianza.org.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Elam School of Fine Arts". 24 February 2012.
  6. ^ "About Elam - The University of Auckland". www.creative.auckland.ac.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Toby Raine wins emerging artist award". www.voxy.co.nz. Retrieved 11 October 2017.

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