Who was Nellie Payne?

Font cover, St Michael's Collegiate, Hobart. Presented 1945.

Font cover, St Michael's Collegiate, Hobart


The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Friday 25 May 1945, page 7
Woodcarver’s Art Not Dead

An octagonal font cover in the Collegiate School chapel carved by Mrs E. N. Payne. The cross in the centre is surrounded by cherubs connected with tracery.

In church and school, in hallway and boudoir, in humble and august surroundings in all parts of Tasmania and the Mainland is to be found mute yet eloquent testimony that the intricate art of woodcarving still lives. And it will continue to live while such craftsmen or craftswomen as Mrs E. N. Payne, of Antill St., Hobart, are able and permitted to adorn private home and public building with treasures of the ancient art.

Never at a loss to express her fancies in this relief work, Mrs Payne, has for many years devoted much of her time to woodcarving. The evidence of mind is not only perceived in her highly finished presentations, but in the clever treatment of her designs, and in the spirit that is thrown into the work.

With true artistic perception and rare skill, she has executed an amazing amount of work worthy to take its place alongside the  highest achievements of art. Her carvings range from gargoyles copied from those which adorn the renowned Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, and symbols of ancient Egyptian worship, to honour rolls, screens, chests, chairs, and boxes.

She excels in ecclesiastical woodcarving, and many churches in Tasmania bear evidence of her indefatigable work. The most outstanding of this is in the Westbury church, which is beautified by carving entirely done by this artist.

The Westbury church holds special interest for Mrs Payne, as members of her family have been closely associated with it for nearly 100 years.
The headmasters’ chairs at Hutchins School, Friends’ School, Collegiate School, the Launceston Church of England Grammar School, and Felsted School, England, have all been carved by her, and the Royal coat of arms in the House of Assembly, Hobart, is also one of her achievements.

She has completed 21 dower chests, 21 honour rolls for the 1914-18 war, and other articles too numerous to mention. Much of her varied work is to be seen on the Mainland.

Having recently completed a font cover which adorns the Collegiate School chapel, Mrs Payne is now at work on a presentation chair for the school. The font cover an exquisite piece of workmanship was presented to the school by the prefects of 1944.

Mrs Payne, who has carried on her work under great difficulty because of war restrictions, has not only earned a reputation in her home State and on the Mainland, but in England, where some of her creations were shown at the Wembley Exhibition In 1924-25. She holds a London diploma gained at the Goldsmith  College, University of London, where  she trained.