Sydney Architecture Images- Eastern Suburbs

East Sydney Technical College formerly East Sydney Gaol 








Victorian Regency






Following images with special thanks to Michael Greenhalgh.
NAS History

The National Art School has a long and fascinating history stretching back to 1859. Now in a new 'golden age' of its existence since, in 1996, achieving 'stand alone independence' from an earlier amalgamation, the School can look back on a past beyond compare in Australia. It is now, and always has been, a place of rigorous artistic instruction and by virtue of this seriousness has always been the art school of choice for both major artists to teach and ambitious students to study.

It had its origins, over a century and a half ago, as the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts. In 1921 the Old Darlinghurst Gaol was converted to the East Sydney Technical College.

In the same year the National Art School took up residence and has happily thrived within the vast sandstone walls ever since. In 1921 the NAS offered diplomas in painting, sculpture, ceramics, design and commercial art. A range of part-time and short courses were also available, and by the early 1960's the NAS had nearly 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time students and 93 staff.

With the creation of the Colleges of Advanced Education, the school was effectively broken up with Fine Art merging with other institutions to become Alexander Mackie School of Art, and eventually the College of Fine Art at the University of New South Wales. Design became the foundation school of what was to become the Sydney College of the Arts, now part of Sydney University. However some courses and the spirit and tradition of the NAS continued in the Old Darlinghurst Gaol at East Sydney and in the hearts and minds of NAS Alumni - a virtual who's who of Australian Art and the arts community. Thus began a protracted twenty year battle to save what was regarded nationally and internationally as the finest Art School in the history of Australia.

This reached a climax in 1995 when students, staff and almost the entire Sydney Art Community demonstrated in support of independence for the NAS from the TAFE system to which it had been attached. They marched on Martin Place and Parliament House. The leading international Art Critic, Robert Hughes sent letters of support from New York, and the then leader of the opposition, Bob Carr, promised the NAS its independence. In May 1996, the newly elected Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, honoured his pre-election promise and made the NAS an Independent School.

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