Howick Arts Society

1991 to 2021

In this our thirtieth anniversary of HARTS, we are proud of our achievements.Why and how did HARTS begin? We are indeed lucky to still have two members who were there at the beginning, Sue Platt and Liz Speight, the first President.
Anne Shannon was a member of both The Last ArtPosts and the Natal and Midlands Arts and Craft Organisation, which evolved into MACS, and so kept HARTS in the loop.
Sue Platt, who was a member of a group of like-minded artists in the early 1990’s, remembers: “the group used to meet informally at Anne Shannon’s home. After the first formal get-together, meetings were held at the Howick Falls Hotel.”
Liz Speight picks up the story, “ I was invited to the group by Wynn Asselbergs”
A formal art group was established with the following first committee:
Liz Speight (President), Anne Shannon (Secretary), Treasurer (Kim Cantorelli), and Mike Mallinick (Working Member).
There was a competition for a name for the new society and the suggestion, HARTS, Howick Arts Society, was adopted.
Liz recalls, “The first thing we did was write out invitations to prominent people in Howick announcing a forthcoming art exhibition at The Falls Hotel. The exhibition was held in September 1991 at the Howick Falls Hotel and was opened by the Mayor of Howick, Keith Humphreys. The pictures were hung on the walls because we didn’t have screens at that time.
At the next meeting, a competition was held to choose the logo, which Pat Simonds of Mooi River designed.
From October 1991 the Howick Falls Hotel hosted the meetings. At meetings, either a speaker gave a presentation and a critique of members’ art works, or a film related to art was shown.
The fledgling HARTS was a dynamic group that arranged outings, for example to Faye Halstead’s farm in Winterton, as well as organising an exhibition at the Midmar Museum. Affiliated to NAMACO, the art group also participated in a number of exhibitions at the Howick Falls Hotel.
A new committee was chosen in February 1992 and it was proposed that a Constitution be drawn up. Mike Mallinick arranged a copy of a constitution from another club as a starting point for HARTS. At the first AGM in September, the proposed constitution was debated and accepted. There have been a few adjustments over the years, but this first draft has stood us in good stead.
Liz Speight remembers Our next exhibition was at the Howick Museum in Falls Road. The manager of the museum was Maureen Holland. She allowed us to store the screens which we had made in the back room of the museum. This was very convenient. Later the Fort was built in Falls Road, as an extension of the hotel complex and HARTS was offered an ongoing exhibition space. Unfortunately, there were insufficient members to keep this going by doing gallery duty. When the ANC municipality took office, we lost the storage place at the museum, but Sheila Bright offered to store the screens in her garage at her home in Hayfields Road.
HARTS was offered exhibition space at the Howick Museum, where exhibitions were held every two months with a guest artist in attendance. This continued until 2000.
Wynn Assellbergs was unable to attend a John Smith workshop and donated her payment to HARTS to purchase a trophy, which is awarded at the end of the year to the member who has accumulated the most points for their work during the year.
HARTS acquired its own library in 1995, following the initiative of Bunny de Harde. The library is an important part of meetings to this day and members are able to borrow magazines and art books. The library has grown considerably, with bequests and subscriptions to a number of local and overseas publications.
Margie Sparks joined HARTS February 1997 and reminisces:
“HARTS met in a little room in the back of the Museum in those days. We were a small group, and each month took paintings to the meeting but there was no critique until it was introduced by Lorna Pierson. At an exhibition there were always two members on duty which was super as one got to know other members.”
By this time HARTS had established the foundations of a viable and energetic society in the area.
The next few years saw a number of changes. HARTS meetings and workshops have moved many times to various venues over the last thirty years, but presently we are settled at St Luke’s Church hall, where we hold our monthly meetings, workshops, and the ever-popular Tuesday art classes.
HARTS prides itself on having held art exhibitions every year since 1991. Visit our Gallery to see the latest which was held from 1st to 15th December 2021 at The St Johns Lifestyle Centre in Howick.
To encourage artists to keep painting and learning, a competition is held each month, and members vote for the artwork they each think the best. At the end of the year the Wynn Asselbergs cup is awarded to the artist with the most votes. The Lorna Pierson cup is awarded to Most Improved Artist of the Year and the Vicki Cressey cup for Originality.
In 2015 to reach a wider audience HARTS joined Facebook and created a website and a new digital Logo was designed by Jo Orsmond, a long-time member.
Our P R O introduced the Artist of the Month in the local press, showcasing individual members, which is most popular with the public..
As an out-reach project, art classes for the general public are held on Tuesday afternoons at St Luke’s Church Hall where a HARTS member is available for advice.
Within HARTS a number of smaller groups have formed: MOPS, Midlands Outdoor Painting and Sketching, TAG, Tree Art Group.
The current committee endeavours to bring in artists from outside Howick to give workshops. We thought 2020 was going to be the year, when we started enthusiastically with a Jeanette Gilks workshop in January, but everything came to a halt in March with Covid 19. Our next meeting was in October, with all Covid protocols in place, when Rob MacKenzie held a very successful workshop.
During the first half of 2021 we were able to meet as well as to hold an exhibition at the Rotunda in Hilton during April.
Two one day charity exhibitions were also held, one for SPCA in June and another at the Karkloof Market in aid of Free Me.
To celebrate our 30th Anniversary, a very successful art exhibition was held at St Johns Lifestyle Centre in Howick and to close off the year another was also held at St Johns.
HARTS members look forward to the next 30 years.
“As a society, HARTS has a number of aims, not least of which is to encourage its members to aspire to constantly improving their work, and to provide insight into the creativity of other artists. To this end, local and out-of-town artists are invited to give talks and presentations at the weekly meetings and to facilitate workshops each following Monday. HARTS is essentially a social club and, by participating in its activities, members come to know and interact with like-minded people. Artists gain confidence by showing and selling their artworks and therefore the committee organises exhibitions in public places in and around Howick.” Rowena Wilkinson (President) 2021

Special Mention
The following members need to be thanked for their contribution over the past 30 years.
Many are no longer with us, but without their hard work, HARTS would not be the vibrant Association it is today.
Anne Shannon had the idea of a group of like-minded individuals getting together to paint, never thinking that the original 15 people at the first meeting would create the dynamic association that HARTS is today with over 100 members.
Anne was the first Secretary and President twice, working tirelessly to have HARTS recognised officially. With Mike Mallinick, another original member and long-lasting HARTS member, Anne helped to write our constitution.
Liz Speight became the original President in 1991 and we need to thank her for 30 years of dedication to HARTS.
Liz has been President three times, as well as serving on the Committee is other capacities, and is always available with new ideas, willing to critique the monthly Asselberg cup entries and hold workshops.
A special thanks must go to her husband, Bill, who through the years has been available to help with HARTS projects.
Beryl Robinson was another original member and experienced potter, who became Exhibition Convenor and was always available to help promote HARTS.
Wally Robinson was another stalwart member, keeping tabs on the money as Treasurer for many years.
Bunny de Harde was on the committee to help wherever she was needed for 12 years.
During here time, she collected and looked after the magazines, which became the original library.
Ruth Anderson took over from Bunny and set the standard for the library that we have today.
John Lyon became a member in 1992 becoming Secretary in 2002. As a Lions Club member he organized for HARTS meetings to be held in their room at Umgeni Wildlife Centre, which HARTS did until 2015.
Lorna Pierson needs a Special Mention. When she retired as the Senior Art lecturer at the Indumiso College of Education in Edendale in 1985 she was already an active member of the Richmond Art Group, and later the Howick Arts Society.
During her 17 years as a member of HARTS, Lorna was Exhibitions convenor, President and in her later years, Competitions convenor. Her enthusiasm and love of art set the standard that HARTS bides by today.
Sheila Bright had studied advertising and was a well-known artist in Howick when she joined HARTS in 1992. Sheila started the first “Outdoor painting group” and from 1997 arranged painting holidays in the berg for a number of years.
With Johan van der linde Sheila started collecting information for the HARTS Archives, and was an active member up to her demise in 2020
Margaret Harriman, who missed a year in 1992 to compete in the Para-Olympics representing S A in the bowls team, was secretary and then PRO for many years, promoting HARTS.
Leonore wille, Denise Lombard, Denys Davis, Di walsh, Dianne Kelly, Frank Boatwright, Jeanette Saville, Joan White, John Cunningham, Margo Nimmo, Norman Bond, Pam Spencer Pamela Cormack, Pat Kellington,Pat white, Ted smith, Val Bray Wendy Beneke, Wynn Asselbergs, Yvonne Myburgh
Sue Platt, who has been a member since the first meeting in 1991, and has always supported HARTS and been ready to exhibit her work
Anna Pettifer, who has been a member for 17 years, and kept a tight rein on things as Secretary for 10 of those and is still a committee member.
Tim Kiln, our Vice President, who over the past 22 years, has been Treasurer, Exhibitions Convenor, and President, as well as available with new ideas, willing to critique the monthly Asselberg cup entries and hold workshops.
Johan van der Linde who was President twice, and while in charge of the library with Sheila Bright, started collecting information for the archives. He also began the Tree Art Group in 2017.
Hermine Spies-Coleman, a member since 2004 , has facilitated many workshops and talks over the years, as well as rejuvenating Sheila Bright’s “Outdoor Paintng Group” in 2010 as M O P S – the ‘Midlands Outdoor Painting and Sketching” group.
Margie Sparks became a member in 1997 and has been librarian and a willing pair of hands since then. Al Sparks also needs a special mention, as he has always been available to help when it was needed.
Dianna Cattell was Exhibitions Convenor for a number of years, as well as being in charge of signage for HARTS
Bill van Grenen is a long-standing member who was Treasurer for a number of years, as was Jo Orsmond, who designed our HARTS Logo.
Alan Donaldson, Anne Raubenheimer, Niel Owen, Penny Baris, Rita Wilkes, Shirley MacKellar, Sue Fly, Yvonne Engelbrecht ,who have all been on the committee at some point, or been there to assist where needed.
We thank each and every one of you, and hope that your dedication will be replicated by present members in the next 30 years.


HARTS prides itself of having held art exhibitions every year since 1991. (See Gallery). Many were held at the Howick Museum and later at S A Craft. At the time there were many overseas tourists visiting the vicinity of the Howick Falls.

Treasure Trove at the Falls became a popular venue. (This venue has changed names and owners over the years, but has always supported HARTS members by exhibiting our art in the restaurant). At most exhibitions members of the public were individually invited to the opening, there was a well-known featured artist, and a cocktail party with an honoured guest.

During those early years, various exhibitions were held in conjunction with local schools: Carter High School in September 1993, Howick High School in August 1994, and St Christopher’s in Pietermaritzburg in September.

HARTS was given an exciting project when invited to arrange an exhibition for Ashton Art Gallery from Port Elizabeth of two hundred well-known South African artists as well as works from overseas. This was held in September 1995 at Fernhill Hotel, and proved to be an interesting experiment, as there was a variety of art on display, some from as far away as Taiwan.

During 1996 a promotional exhibition was held at Amberfield and the first exhibition in the Doris Robbins room at the Howick Library was held during library week. The latter venue was the favourite space for exhibitions until 2013.

Overseas and local visitors found a visit to Howick enhanced by the continuous exhibitions held by local artists, and local paintings have found their way to various destinations, including Norway, USA, Japan, UK, Europe and the Middle East.

In 1997 the Old Agricultural Hall was upgraded and opened as Craft South Africa. HARTS’ first Exhibition in April 1998 was the first of many, the last being in July 2000 with an exhibition to open the new Annex. (photo June 1998)

The new millennium saw some changes in our exhibition venues. Exhibitions were still being held in the Doris Robbins room at the Howick Library, with a few exceptions: an excellent exhibition at Tatham Art Museum, West Gallery in May and at Hilton Arts Fair in September, 2000; Fernhill Hotel and The Gallery in Mooi River in 2003; in 2005 Hermine Spies held an Art Festival and HARTS held a promotional exhibition there. HARTS was present at the Hilton Arts Festival in September 2007 as well as exhibiting at Midlands Stationers and at Amberfield Retirement Village. We travelled further afield to Michaelhouse School as well as to St Ives Restaurant in the Midlands, where HARTS held a number on exhibitions

Unfortunately Howick Library could no longer accommodate us, so we looked for other venues, mainly the larger shopping centres around Howick: Fairways on Main, Greendale and St John’s Lifestyle Centre. HARTS were fortunate enough to exhibit at Thembelihle School in 2015, as well as to participate at the Natal Witness Garden Show that year. Other venues of note are Phuzamoya-Player Gallery in Karkloof, Arusha Designs in Hilton and most recently Hilton Library, and Artifacts Gallery in Howick, and Bastille Day 2019 saw HARTS members exhibiting at the Nottingham Fort. HARTS have often held charity exhibitions at the Umgeni SPCA, with artists donating paintings to sell for funds.

Covid 19 put all plans on hold in 2020, but 2021 sees HARTS well on the way to getting our ‘mojo’ back, with an exhibition at the Rotunda in Hilton, the annual SPCA day on the 8th May and another charity exhibition for Free Me on the 26th June at Karkloof Market.


To keep fresh ideas and to share new techniques, HARTS members compete in a number of competitions during the year.

The Asselberg Cup is the oldest and the most coveted of these.Asselberg TrophyThe first competition to award a prize for HARTS members was the Asselberg Trophy.
Wynn Assellburgs was unable to attend the John Smith workshop in 1993 and donated her payment to HARTS for a trophy.
This wonderful gesture and trophy – The Wynn Asselberg Trophy – is awarded each year to the artist who has entered the most paintings and has the highest points for competitions at the monthly meetings.

Additional Competitions
Anonymous Year-End
A Year-End competition was introduced in 2014. A theme was decided in July to give members ample time to complete a painting, which was to be kept un-signed until critiqued by an outside artist at the Year-end party.
This has proved to be most popular with members, and it is always fun to try and guess who has painted which painting, before the big reveal.
Lorna Pierson – Progress Cup
Although HARTS members mourned the loss of Lorna Pierson in 2015, she had made provision for a cup in her honour to be given to the Most Improved Artist of the Year. The first year it was won by Shirley MacKellar.
Vicki Cressey – Originality Cup
Vicki Cressey was another member who offered a cup in 2018 for the artist who was diverse and original.The first recipient was Diana Cattell.


Ted Smith started informal art classes at the Howick Library as far back as 1995, for the general public. Various HARTS members were available to assist with tuition. This activity has continued up to the present, takes place on Tuesdays at St Luke’s Church Hall in Harvard Street, Howick.
In the past, painting holidays were arranged for interested artist and various venues in the Drakensburg, Clarens and Fouriesburg have been visited.
Throughout the years a number of smaller groups had begun, some to continue, others to fade away. Life drawing classes started at the Guide Hall in Hilton, and for a while a miniature painting group and a watercolour group.
In February 1995 Sheila Bright arranged painting outdoors as a group at various venues paint outdoors, at the first place chosen was the river near Howick Falls.
Since the beginning, well-known artists have been invited to hold workshops and demonstrations on the Monday following HARTS monthly meeting.
Members have had the opportunity of learning from some of the best artists in the area, among them Richard Rennie, Brent Dodd, Simon Addy, Lynn Hoyle, Joy Priess, Kobie Venter, Jeanette Gilks, Hermine Spies, Vincent Reid, Barbara Siedle, Anne Raubenheimer, Rita Wilkes, Chris Koury, Hussein Salim, Marion Townsend, Bob MacKenzie, and Franz Printz on Rock Art.
MOPS – Midlands Outdoor Painting & Sketching Group
HARTS artists have always been involved in smaller art groups, and Hermine Spies-Coleman started one of these in 2010.
Hermine says ‘The inspiration was the Urban Sketchers and more specifically the D’urban Sketchers to have groups draw and paint the interesting places in the KZN MIdlands once a month.
There is no membership for the group and no fees involved. Announcement of when and where is usually done in the month ahead of the meeting. It is an opportunity for artists to paint and draw interesting areas of our environment in a group.’
This is an active group that visit some wonderful venues around the Midlands.

T A G – Tree Art Group

At an HARTS meeting in 2017, Johan van der Linde mentioned that he enjoyed painting trees. Shirley McKellar a committee member, agreed and suggested that a group of like-minded artists should get together to paint/draw trees around Howick.
The idea was taken to the committee, and it was decided that Johan van der Linde facilitated meetings of THE TREE ART GROUP.
A number of HARTS members attended the first outing, and since then many more have enjoyed mornings every 6 weeks, at a variety of venues.