Who was Nellie Payne?

China cupboard carved 1907.


“Ellen Nora Payne – Woodcarver of Tasmania” by Russell Atkinson
1975, pg. 47 & 49, Chapter 7 “Safe Bind, Safe Find”

Back at her old home, Westfield, again, Mrs Payne soon settled down to her woodcarving, her mind filled with the richness and nobility of the carvings, ancient and modern, she had observed and studied in the great and little churches and public buildings in and around London.
She had knowledge and confidence now to back her skill, so when it was announced that a great exhibition of work by the women of Australia was to be held in Melbourne the following year she resolved to submit an entry. She finally chose a china cabinet, and to its form and design she devoted much time, effort and thought.

The Women’s Work Exhibition was opened on October 23, 1907. It was a notable display, the first event of its kind ever held in Australia. Women in all parts of the country sent entries, attracted by the wide publicity given to it in advance. Much fine carving was sent in, every State contributing, and it was here that Mrs. Payne achieved her first public triumph.

A contemporary newspaper account, describing the exhibition, said:
Connoisseurs declare that the highest standard of merit among the Australian exhibits at the Women’s Work Exhibition is reached in the china painting and carved furniture. Tasmania scores in the latter competitions. Mrs. Nora Payne, a Tasmanian lady, wins three prizes and an exhibition medal for a beautiful china cupboard, which combines usefulness and beauty. Strong metal clasps give firmness to the sides, and old Shylock’s motto, ‘Safe bind, Safe find’, appears in bold relief in front amid carven flowers. Mrs. Payne designed the cupboard.

Another account said:
A China cupboard that might challenge competition anywhere is the work of Mrs. E. N. Payne, and the winner of more than one special prize. The design is severely simple at the base, and only a little more elaborate towards the top of the finely designed doors. The hinges are remarkably fine specimens of pewter work.

Those hinges were made for Mrs. Payne by Mr. Alan Walker, of Hobart, and the cabinet took not only the first prize for all Australia, but the Sir Gerald Strickland prize, the Lady Bedford Prize, and the Mrs. Marg Buckley Prize, as well as the silver medal, and gained many admiring comments from judges and other competent critics.
This triumph was undoubtedly a landmark in Mrs. Payne’s artistic career, for it brought her a wide reputation for fine craftsmanship which she never lost.
2nd Article quoted is from:
Leader (Melbourne, Vic.: 1862 – 1918), Saturday 9 November 1907, page 35
[Picture of China Cabinet on page 48]

Launceston Exhibition – held 1 month prior to Melbourne Exhibition.
Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Friday 20 September 1907, page 8
The exhibition of women’s work in connection – with the Australian Women’s Exhibition was opened in the Albert Hall yesterday afternoon.

Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), Friday 20 September 1907, page 6

Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Saturday 21 September 1907, page 3