All Saints’ Church, Denmead – Annual Art Exhibition
In September 2023, the 48th Exhibition will be held. Here’s how it all began…
Back in the 1970s, amongst other fund-raising that was going on at the church, the organ was in great need of refurbishing. So, in 1974, the very active fund-raising group decided to try an Art Exhibition – knowing that there were many talented artists in the area.
Mrs Edna Goodman recalls how her late husband Peter, along with a number of other people, organised the event for late September and received about 220 pictures from 46 artists, most of whom lived in Denmead. “All works had to be originals, either paintings or drawings in any media, but no sculpture or collage” she says.
A commission would be taken on any works that were sold – though a number of artists donated the entire proceeds of their sales!
Jennifer Dawe (who painted under the name of Jenny Davey) was a central figure to the whole enterprise. She was very highly regarded by many, as both artist and teacher. She was a member of various art groups, she knew many local artists and knew how to run exhibitions. With Peter’s enthusiasm and gift for organisation they made the perfect team. Paddy and Betty Wright were also very helpful with many aspects of the exhibition – not least by submitting their own paintings. Betty’s in particular became very sought-after, often selling out within the first few minutes of the show!
The first was a great success and so was repeated the following year – and has continued annually to this day. Beginning by using borrowed display boards, after a few years some plain doors were acquired and new boards were made from from these. Several years later, as the number of paintings increased, these were replaced by the boards currently in use, which were kindly made by some local handymen.
With many valuable paintings on display, security has always been an important concern, so an all-night watch has always been kept.
Towards the end of the 1980s, Peter Goodman and the other organisers handed over to Pete Johnstone and Bob Buckingham who, with Pete’s talent as an artist and Bob’s organisational skills, made another excellent team. The success of the exhibition steadily grew, becoming loved by regular visitors, and greatly appreciated by the contributing artists.
By the mid 1990s, over 500 paintings were regularly being submitted, and the proceeds from sales were continuing to fund the maintenance of the organ. It was decided that, provided there were sufficient funds for this, a proportion of the proceeds would also in future go to a charity.
As the show moved into the 21st century, Paul Hillyard and Steve Venn were the next to take the helm and continued in that role for around 12 years. During this period the website was launched, helping to communicate and spread the word.
The exhibition is now run by a larger team, and the aim is to continue in the same tradition.
Obviously because of Covid, we had to take a break in 2020 and 2021 but we re-started in 2022.
Our policy is to welcome work from anyone who may wish to submit some – there is no assessment or selection process – giving opportunity for those less confident artists, as well as young people, to show their work.