Newton Poppleford Art Society
The Newton Poppleford Art Society, based in Devon, meets once a month. At most of these meetings we have demonstrations of art techniques in a range of mediums given by well known artist-tutors.
Other activities organised by the Society include painting days, workshops and holidays. These are arranged to take place at various times through the year. The highlight of the year is our annual exhibition of members' work once a year, held at the end of July.
In addition Informal Art Groups have been set up under the auspices of the Society. These provide an opportunity for members to meet on a weekly basis to paint together in a social setting, and to share hints on techniques and materials.
The History of Newton Poppleford Art Society
By 1996, established East Devon art groups all had long waiting lists, and unattached amateur artists were finding it difficult to join one of the existing groups. Accordingly, a few of these frustrated amateurs got together and decided to see if they could start their own society. The story appeared in the local newspapers, and as a result two members of The Exmouth Art Group offered to brief them on setting the project up. An exploratory meeting was held in February of that year to see if there was enough interest to start an afternoon art society in Newton Poppleford. The meeting proved encouraging.
As a result, posters were put up in public libraries announcing that an inaugural meeting would be held on March 21. This meeting would include a talk about painting in oils, by Sidmouth artist Ron Webb. This covered his own experience as a professional artist, his technique and the materials he used. The second part of that meeting was devoted to the collection of annual subscriptions, set at £8, which resulted in an initial membership of 36.
At the April meeting, following the publicity surrounding their initial get-together, more members joined.
The first NPAS Annual Exhibition in 1996 lasted three days, during which 37 artists showed 106 pictures and the posters stated: ‘The object of the Society is for members to share their mutual interest in art, and this exhibition not only gives them a chance to show their work to each other but to visitors as well.’ Despite initial misplaced doubts about members’ abilities, sales totalled a very healthy £1,278 and eight new members were gained, bringing the total to 54.
An Annual Exhibition has been staged every year since then, apart from 2003, when building work at Newton Poppleford School necessitated its cancellation. In 2001 the event was extended to five days, and five years later the exhibition was extended again, to eight days.
In 2006, the Society decided to support a local charity, as an aid to encouraging publicity for the Exhibition. To this end, a raffle was organised, one of the prizes for which was a painting donated by artist Ray Balkwill. Some £850 (half the proceeds after expenses) was raised for Children’s Hospice South West.
Ray Balkwill donating his painting to Society officers Tom Entwistle and Roger Boud
In 2007, because of the outstanding support received from Exeter Hospiscare by the family of one member , it was decided that money would be raised as part of the 2007 Annual Exhibition in aid of this charity. Hospiscare was the focus of the Society's exhibition-related charity fund-raising efforts again in 2008, 2009, and 2010, culminating in the production of the Big Picture based on Van Gogh's Sunflowers which, in conjunction with Dart's Farm, raised almost £4000.
The overall result of these charitable projects is that, over the years, a sizeable sum of money has been raised for charity, while at the same time generating much needed publicity for our exhibitions.
Apart from the high standard of monthly demonstrations and occasional painting days, other popular Society activities have been the many painting holidays, often involving up to 30 members at a time. Two were in Cornwall, five at Hope Cove in the South Hams, and two were consecutive painting weekends with Ray Balkwill at Marlborough, the first of which was so over-subscribed that it had to be split into two. By far the most ambitious venture was the 2005 painting holiday to Menorca, when members were entertained at the villa of the then President, Ron Webb, who was by then resident on the island. The most recent trip was in 2010, this time to the Cotswolds, and was another success.
The Society continues to thrive, and plays its part in the local community. Regular reports of the Society's activities are produced for the parish magazine, and the Society contributes to events like the Pebbleford WI's Christmas Tree Festival 2010.
In 2013 the Society's Committee decided to try an alternative venue for the Annual Exhibition, the Cricket Pavilion in Back Lane, Newton Poppleford. This proved to be a lighter and more usuable space and so the subsequent exhibitions was held there also
The Society generally has some 90- 95 members.