In May 2002 a remarkable journey began. A telephone call from Donald in North Western Victoria informed the School that an old portrait had been discovered. The caller, Mr Robin Letts, had been clearing out his mother's house after her death and had found a portrait in her attic. Just discernible on the back of the portrait were the words Dr Morrison Principal of Scotch College. The portrait was dated 1891. Mr Letts asked whether the School would be interested in the portrait as he was going to throw it out, and it was in rather poor condition. The answer, of course, was affirmative!
I travelled to Donald and collected the neatly wrapped Dr Morrison and transported him back to Melbourne where he was duly unpacked and examined. Undoubtedly it was Scotch's longest ever serving Principal (of 47 years), and certainly he was worse for wear, as the accompanying photograph shows. With more than twenty holes and rips in the canvas, it was going to be quite a job to restore him. And he needed a really good clean too.
The job was entrusted to the Ian Potter Conservation Department at the University of Melbourne where Caroline Fry painstakingly restored and repaired the portrait over a four month period. The end result is tremendous with barely a sign to show the distress which the portrait suffered when it first arrived back at Scotch.
The next stage was to create an appropriate frame for the portrait, one which captured the essence of the man and all he stood for, and yet was contemporary with the painting. Here we called upon the genius of Mastercraftsman Peter Chaloupka who has worked extensively for the NGV and the State Library. Over a two month period Peter crafted from scratch the beautiful and heavy (50 kg!) frame which now displays Dr Morrison so proudly.
What better symbol, therefore, for the Alexander Morrison Circle of Giving could there be than this fine, restored portrait, returned so generously to its true home. Morrison demonstrated exceptional qualities of vision, thrift and forward planning; qualities which are the fundamentals of the bequest circle now named after him. The portrait was unveiled at the Foundation President's Dinner in August, and not only excited delight at its very fine qualities, but enthusiasm for the Circle of Giving, with a number of guests indicating their intention of leaving a bequest to the School.
The portrait itself has come full circle. We do not know how it came to be in Donald. We cannot discover anything about the artist J.E.Gelberg. But we are delighted to have Dr Morrison home again, keenly surveying the fruits of his own vision, one hundred years exactly after he died.
If you would like to become a founding member of the Alexander Morrison Circle of Giving by indicating this year that you would like to leave a bequest to the School, please contact Alan Watkinson, in absolute confidence, at the Development Office (9810 4300).
Alan Watkinson -
Director of Development
Scotch College: ABN 86 852 826 445 ACN 005 650 395 CRICOS 00624A (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students)