THE SCHOOL PENDULUM CLOCK
A pendulum clock gifted to the college in the 1930’s has been repaired, restored and given a beautiful fresh French polish by Nelson jewellers Benjamin Black.
In 2013 College Assistant Principal, Stuart Bathan, found the clock in three pieces buried deep in a well hidden cupboard and once the parts of the clock were displayed at the 2013 Christmas morning tea, the Old Girls Exec felt that we should fund this distinguished timepiece’s revival.
Executive Committee member Jenny Thomson led the restoration project. The clock now hangs at the left hand end of the foyer outside the Assembly Hall, looking very distinguished - another piece of our heritage for staff and girls to enjoy.
At the same time, a clock gifted by the Wellington Branch of the Old Girls was also repaired and cleaned up and now graces the walls of reception.
CHAIR RENOVATION LAUNCH
Back row left to right:
Jenny Thomson (Jones); Angela Fitchett (Webber); Kathy Cuthbert;
Judy Mumm (Goodman); Virginia Hogarth (Varley); Deb Moore (Alton).
Upholstery details: Fabric - Textilia, Maze “Deadend”, dark navy blue with a subtle but interesting texture in a pattern of geometric maze-like angles which echo the shape of the chairs’ latticed backs. The fabric is 100% commercial grade polyester, and has a 54000 Martindale rub test score which means that a very large number of bottoms can descend before it wears through. Instyle Upholsterers, Peter Bowater.
Instyle have upholstered the Principal’s chair seat and back to match.
Further information on the Thonet chairs
Following is a description of the ‘Ligton’ chairs from a dealer:
The distinctive lattice-back chairs in solid Beech with Thonet’s trademark U-shaped seat frame, heavily contoured and shaped backrest & arched rear leg achieve a winning combination of comfort, lightness & grace. The innovative process that allows such thick pieces of timber to be curved so appreciably using steam is an amazing feat, one for which Thonet received a patent in 1856. Thonet is a company whose philosophy is that design is a reduction of all things to their bare essentials, furniture with very clear forms and minimal materials.
NGC ASSEMBLY HALL CHAIRS PROJECT - 2013
Thirty-seven chairs were presented to the college by the PTA in 1958 at the 75th celebrations. The chairs, along with a lectern and table, were to be part of the new assembly hall which was, in 1958, in the planning stages.
This set of chairs have been in constant use since the assembly hall opened for use in 1964. Some were broken and all were looking their age. Bryce Vincent of Vincent Restoration agreed to take on the project. Bryce did a fabulous job with the result that the chairs look almost ‘as new’. He has strengthened the chairs’ frames and used finishes on them that should allow another fifty years of use. We are very grateful to Bryce for the time and care he put into the job.
Chair background: The chairs, (style: Ligton), were made by Thonet (pronounced Tawn-it), a renowned furniture company in Europe whose founder Michael Thonet developed the famous ‘bent-wood’ chair. In the 1950’s Wellington furniture retailer Woodcraft were importing this particular style, manufactured in Czechoslovakia and imported as a kit to assemble, so it is possible that the PTA obtained them there.
Renovation details: reglue where needed, replace missing lattice sections with matching birch, block seats and remove original metal seat ties to strengthen, bolt back and back legs (2 bolts each ) to seat frame and plug with birch plugs, strip, sand and refinish as close to original colour as possible with “hard” finish.
Michael Thonet 1796 - 1871
His famous bent-wood chairs
A humble artisan who set up his own workshop specializing in parquetry (1819), Thonet began in 1830 to experiment with new cabinetmaking techniques. He developed a system of steambent veneers and glued four or five together, from which he made complete chairs that were light and curvilinear.
Thonet’s inventiveness attracted the attention of Richard Metternich, who in 1842 invited Thonet to settle in Vienna; for the next five years he worked on the Neorococo interiors of the Liechtenstein Palace. Some of his work there included bent, solid wood, formed by methods familiar to wheelwrights.
His representative works shown at the Great Exhibition, London (1851), were a huge success. In 1853 he incorporated with his sons, renaming his firm Gebrüder Thonet. By 1856 he had perfected the bending by heat of solid beechwood into curvilinear shapes, and he was ready for mass production, exporting as far as South America. Factories were later established in Hungary and Moravia. Catapulting to success, he opened salons throughout Europe (including Moscow) and in the United States (New York City and Chicago). By 1870 his Viennese firm was producing furniture in hitherto unheard-of quantities—some 400,000 pieces annually. After his death the enterprise was conducted by his sons, who continued to open more factories.
Among Thonet’s most popular designs were those of café chairs, rocking chairs, and hat stands. His solid bentwood furniture, never out of production, was again made fashionable in the 1920s by the renowned modern architect and designer Le Corbusier. The utilitarian chairs, mass-produced at low prices, were seen all over the Western world and shown in the paintings of such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec and John Sloan. Interest in Art Nouveau in the 1960s accounted for still another—and continuing—revival of Thonet’s bentwood furniture.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica