February 1960 John Thirtle, F.R.S.A, formed the Winsham Art Group
in Jubilee Hall.
He was a professional artist, recently moved to the Winsham area,
who offered tuition free for a year. He quickly surrounded himself with enthusiastic amateur
painters, and started classes in oils. They began with charcoal and white
ceiling paper. It was not very long before oils were attempted.
The ceiling paper was sized before being brought to class and
advice about colours and type of paint and brushes given.
Fifteen members hired the Jubilee
Hall for thirteen weekly evenings. Only two of the dozen or so
original members had ever put brush to canvas before.
Thirtle looked upon this class as an experiment, something he had
always wanted to bring about. His aim was to teach them to SEE, to
express their individual feelings and whilst appreciating the work
of others not to be too influenced by them.
Such was the enthusiasm of the
class that his experiment was to exceed all expectations and in
1962 they held their first exhibition in the Jubilee Hall. They
were complimented on the originality of their work, which was
spontaneous and refreshing.
Tim Spilsbury took over the tuition the following year and the
group continued with various people giving talks until 1966 when
matters were put on a sound basis with the Winsham Art Club being
formed and a committee elected.
subscription of five shillings a year was charged. Barbara
Shrubshall was elected Secretary and continued for twenty years.
Doffla Bennett was Treasurer for twenty one years.
Winsham Art Club – the
years of relative stability, the turn of the century saw an
acceleration of the changes that had begun to worry the members of
the management committee for some time. The simple truth of the
matter was that many of the original members who had been the
backbone of the club for many years were no longer able to take
part due to age and infirmity. This also applied to the regular
tutors who had served the club so well over the years.
The Pre-view of the Annual Exhibition
is always well attended
The Annual Christmas Lunch is a
The Club had
to change. Art as a hobby was burgeoning and many more people were
painting than ever before. This was a tremendous opportunity for
the club, but it also brought with it some problems.
art groups were springing up, led perhaps by one artist who
provided the tuition. Membership costs were low because they would
meet perhaps in the leaders home, with no overheads to speak of.
It also meant that members could change groups, or belong to more
than one. Nothing wrong with that, except it created problems for
relatively large clubs such as Winsham with paid Tutors (not very
much!) and charges for the hire of Jubilee Hall.
Club has reacted vigorously to the challenge, in the short term
making use of part of a generous bequest of £1,000 from a member,
the late Dorothy Almack.
The work of the members covers many styles and
In response, the Club has accepted that if it is to continue to
function it must overcome these problems, and has responded with
members holding the posts for relatively short periods of two to
three years. In earlier years the Officers often held these
posts for many years.
The result has been that a lively club has emerged that has
responded to a changing world. It continues to hold its Annual
Exhibition in the Autumn of each year. Its main weekly meeting is
held on a Monday in the Jubilee Hall during the Autumn, Winter and
Spring, offering a range of workshops and demonstrations. During
the summer months open air painting sessions are held around the
Parish. Some also exhibit their work in the 'Winsham Art Gallery'
a web based gallery linked to the Parish Web Site. The pictures
above are a small example of the range of pictures on show.