When you the Duke of Devonshire agrees to be the guest of honour at the opening of an exhibition you know that the organisation involved has to have a fine reputation. And so it is with the Matlock Artists’ Society.
This year the group is celebrating its 25th anniversary and its progression from humble beginnings to a modern forward-thinking society.
So popular is the group there is always a waiting list of artists wanting to join the 52 current members.
In her speech for the first of the celebratory events in April, President Carol Hill paid tribute to those who have worked tirelessly for the group over the years and urged everyone to go forth and paint ready for the annual exhibition and the visit by the Duke.
Between them they are expected to exhibit more than 200 works of art at Cromford Mill from July 5-17.
Programme secretary Doreen Andrews, who was described as the backbone of the society by Carol in her speech, says that there could well be up to 300 paintings for the public to enjoy.
“We have large and small paintings, unframed ones and greetings cards. There will be a marquee in the Mill’s yard for the preview night,” she said.
There are trophies to be won – The President’s Trophy for the best picture in the show and The Seymour Trophy for the best watercolour. The public can also vote for their favourite painting during the exhibition, with the winner receiving the Margaret Ramsden Award.
The reason artsbeat is talking to Doreen is that she is one of the longest serving members of the society and if anyone knows anything about its history it will be Doreen.
“The first meeting was on March 10, 1989 in the Library Room at Tawney House in Matlock. We were called the Tawney House Artists Society at first. The founder members and first committee were Gilbert Seymour as chairman, his wife Margaret who was treasurer and Margaret Ramsden as secretary,” she recalls.
“In the early days we met just in the evenings and we organised speakers to give demonstrations. When Tawney House later became affiliated with the WEA we could have workshops during the day.
“We had a good variety of speakers and demonstrations and we also had painting days out and visited exhibitions and galleries. We didn’t just attract members from Matlock they came from a wider area and we also had meetings at Tansley and Beeley,” she says.
Eventually the society left Tawney House and moved to its present venue All Saints Church Hall in Matlock and that’s when it changed its name.
Since then Doreen has helped set up a branch portrait painting group which meets once a month and is open to non-members as well.
In her role as president, which she has held for nine years, Carol said: “So many members have contributed in their way to the society – whether it is by making cakes, entertaining us or working behind the scenes. I have felt it to be an absolute privilege and to be around such an enthusiastic and friendly group of people.”