Canterbury College School of Art opens (as New Zealand's second art school) on 1 March 1882 in the former Girls' High School, cnr. Rolleston Avenue and Hereford Street.
Headmaster David Blair prepares a prospectus modelled on that of the South Kensington School in London. The establishing charter states: 'The work carried on in the school has for its object the systematic study of practical Art and the knowledge of its scientific principles, with a view to developing the application of Art to the common uses of life, and to the requirements of Trade and Manufactures.'
Its prospectus states that to receive their Teachers' Elementary Drawing Certificate – the equivalent of a second grade South Kensington certificate – students were required to pass in freehand drawing from flat examples, practical geometry, linear perspective, model drawing and blackboard drawing from memory. Instruction included the following subjects: Freehand, Geometry, and Perspective. Light and Shade. Painting on Oil and Water-colours. Botany and Anatomy as applied to Art. Design. Modelling. Building Construction. Machine Construction. Drawing on wood. Lithography.
'Stages of Instruction' are as follows in 1882:
Stage I – Elementary linear drawing, by the aid of instruments.
Stage II – Advanced linear drawing, by the aid of instruments.
Stage III – Models, freehand drawing and shading.
Stage IV – Ornaments, freehand drawing and shading.
Stage V – Botanical drawing. Flower painting.
Stage VI – landscape. Still life, etc.
Stage VII – the human figure.
Stage VIII – Drawing and painting animal forms.
Stage IX – Modelling, ornament, flowers etc.
Stage X – Modelling. The human figure and animals.
Stage XI – Design.
Stage XII – Machine construction and drawing.
Stage XIII – Building construction and drawing – architecture.
Stage XIV – Drawing on wood (wood engraving).
Stage XV – Drawing on stone (lithography).
Before students are confirmed in courses of study, they are required to take classes in elementary drawing or show evidence that they have already done so. The art students are required to provide all their own drawing materials and 'instruments'.
The School's rules include the following exhortations: "Students are required to conduct themselves with order, quietness, and regularity, and to sit down immediately in their proper places on coming into the school. No talking or unnecessary moving about is permitted."
'Each student before leaving the school will be required to remove the copy and drawing-board to the place assigned to them. No student to handle or misplace any of the casts, or other examples; and any student who in any way injures the property of the school, to be held responsible, and to pay for the damage.'
The day following the School's official opening, the Press reports that 'after six months of quiet and thorough preparation [by Blair] the former Girls' High School has been transformed into a miniature South Kensington School of Art.'
28 day and 63 evening students enrol at the new school. 'In the first term 28 students (mostly 'ladies') attended the morning classes, and 63 students (mostly artisans) attended the evening classes. Of the latter, 23 came from 'mechanical occupations', 28 from the building trades, and 3 were lithographers. The new school 'sought to make beauty a prerequisite in the design and manufacture of the common objects of everyday life'. (Ann Calhoun, Simplicity and Splendour, p.14)
A public exhibition is held at the end of the first year. The Lyttelton Times describes as noteworthy Margaret Stoddart's 'study of ivy leaves drawn in sepia from the cast.' (27 December 1882).