This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Mr. Egerton Hine (Harrow School) said that we may imbibe too much Japanese for our own good. Still, there is no other nation in the world gifted with as high an aesthetic faculty as Japan. In Japanese art the characteristics are exceeding daintiness of technique and a genius for balance. When they touch the human figure they hopelessly fail. But he did not think a corrupt Buddhism would be likely to found a great art on the highest possible lines. It is astonishing to hear that this people, who have made beauty a gospel of life, are only copyists and imitators. Still, he did not think that these drawings lent to us by the Board of Education require any apology. Mr. Strange asked, Why is drawing taught ? You might as well ask, Why is writing taught ?
Mr. Phene Spiers pointed out the great value of the cultivation of memory drawing.
Mr. Catterson-Smith was very much impressed that the Japanese could do these wonderful things from memory. You feel they give you the very life of the thing, and he thought that could not be attained by any other method except through the memory of the thing. He himself was doing his utmost to destroy what might be called direct drawing. If you take a set of memory drawings by young children, say up to fifteen or even sixteen, you will notice in each one of those drawings a curious little ghostly quality, as if it had come out of some not quite real origin - an extremely precious thing.
Mr. Black, Principal of the Camden School of Art, believed thoroughly in Japanese art. Whether these drawings are copies, or done in inferior schools or not, he should like to have them as a loan at his school for a time - or even as a gift. No doubt the subject of drawing from nature is the pivot on which the whole question turns. Memory drawing comes next. It cannot come first, because you have nothing to memorise. The decision of the great International Congress of the Art Masters at Berne last summer, where twenty-four nations were represented, was to this effect - that memory drawing is one of the essential subjects we must consider in all our schools. He fully agreed with that, He agreed with Mr. Catterson-Smith that the first duty a teacher is to place himself where the child i and to tell the child on that low rung of the ladder what you have to tell him on the subject. If you cannot do that you are no teacher.
Miss Worn replied very fully to the question, Why do we teach drawing? First, because the practice of drawing is extremely educative of many of our highest faculties. Secondly, because it may enable us to discover and educate artists; thirdly, because the pleasure of drawing is great in itself, and helps us to appreciate the great masters. The lady also gave an interesting account of Mr. Ablett's admirable methods with children in the Royal Drawing Society.
Mr. Ebenezer Cook, Mr. Graham Wallis, and other gentlemen also spoke highly in favour of memory drawing, which, rather than the paper of Mr. Strange, became the subject of discussion.
Mr. Strange and the chairman were cordially thanked, and the meeting adjourned.