S William Toomath

Opening 28 January at the City Gallery will be an exhibition on the long and distinguished career of Wellington architect S William Toomath. The exhibition, Liberating Everyday Life, will provide an overview of Bill Toomath’s work over the many years he has been around.

An early member of the Architectural Centre, still an active member, and still firing on all cylinders now, Bill will be speaking on Thursday night (28 January, 5.15 pm on) at the City Gallery in a discussion labelled “Morals of the Modern: Changing Values of Modern Architecture since Bill Toomath was a Boy”. The City Gallery notes that:

“Modernism has often been associated with a particular moral code. Formal innovation, the self-conscious desire to create something new, the tendency towards abstraction, the rejection of applied ornament, and faith in the potential of the machine and industrial technology have all been defined as core principles of the movement, though any single definition is still the subject of restless debate. These principles were frequently combined with the social and political conviction – predominantly left leaning – that architecture can, and should, transform society for the better.”

Bill Toomath is one of the strong band of Modernist architects present in Wellington through the 1940s to 1960s, that include Derek Wilson, James Beard, Bill Alington, Don Irvine and Grahame Anderson. He is the subject of a film released a few years ago called Antonello and the Architect, which featured his recreation of the study of St Jerome. He is, it has to be said, an all round great guy – highly intelligent, very friendly, and of course, a really good architect. Responsible for such buildings as the Teachers College (shown at top in a glorious photo by Michael Dudding), old Wool House in Featherston St, numerous houses throughout Wellington and the Hutt, he was also the Head of the School of Design at Wellington Polytechnic from 1979-1989.

The exhibition will show a range of his work from through the years, and there will be a number of related events such as talks, bus tour of some of his buildings, etc. Keep an eye out here on the things coming up.


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