History of Salford Art Club

A Short History of Salford Art Club

From the keeper of the archives, James Walker

In 1947 the club was part of the Salford Arts Club which had a drama group, a music section and other interests.

There are no records of any specific exhibitions prior to the first Annual exhibition held at the Art Gallery in 1953; this was held under the title of 'Salford Art Club'. There had been previous opportunities for local artists to exhibit their work at the Gallery from 1931.

The roots of Salford Art Club possibly lie with the artist who contributed to these 'local' exhibitions. Our own Club exhibitions were established at the gallery in 1953 and have remained their every since.

Ernest GoodmanErnest Goodman and the founding of Salford Art Club

In the autumn of 1947 I was a young art teacher at Salford Grammar School and I realised that the city had no Art Club.

Consequentially I had a word with the director of Salford Art Gallery, Arthur Frape, about the possibility of forming a citywide club for those interested in art, music and drama. There was a degree of enthusiasm for this and an Art Club was eventually formed under my chairmanship.

Meetings were held at the Art Gallery and occasionally at my home. There was no painting done at the meetings. Instead discussions were held and subjects set, with strong emphasis on local scene for every member of the club. At a later date members brought their own work back to the club for discussion and critique by fellow members and invited experts. Occasional exhibitions were held in factories and the annual exhibitions took place in Salford Art Gallery with kind permission of Mr Frape.

Potted History for the years 1953-1968

Salford Art Club exhibition 2014The early years of any society are vital for it's future existence, and the fact that this year we celebrated our diamond jubilee shows that the original roots must have been well planned. We recall becoming a fully recognised club when our annual exhibition was established at the City Art Gallery in 1953. There are no records of the full membership over the early years so the members exhibiting work gives some idea of how it might have fluctuated.

The opening exhibition saw 38 members showing 86 exhibits. Both these statistics hit a low in 1958 though I could find no reason for this. Over the next ten years the club showed a steady increase in numbers and in 1968 there were 64 members who exhibited 124 works. During this period our weekly meetings became fully established. On Friday evenings and at the Art Gallery, this was an ideal setting to bring out the best in all our members.

The members' various talents and the early standards have been maintained and our reputation as a club has gone from strength to strength. We still have five members who joined the club on or before 1968 and during this same period some names stand out as members; Vera Lowe, Edith le Breton, LS Lowry and Harold Riley.