The Society was founded in 1972 by Henry Wilson (Harry) Bracken, the well known Sedbergh artist, who exhibited widely as far afield as the Royal Institution of Watercolour painters in London, and at the Paris Salon. His aim in forming the society was to encourage other local artists and to give them the chance to exhibit their work for the enjoyment of interested local people. The first exhibition took place at the Bull Hotel, but as more members joined the society bigger premises were found at the Masonic Hall in Highfield road.
In those days the main activity of the society was to meet on Tuesday afternoons and sharing cars, drive out to picturesque viewpoints within a 10-mile radius of Sedbergh in order to paint the landscape together. Sometimes, all-day expeditions were arranged further afield in the Lakes and Dales, and the exhibition mostly featured these paintings. During the winter a programme of monthly evening meetings was arranged, at which there were talks or demonstrations on various artistic topics.
In accordance with the interests and skills of new members, the nature of the Annual Exhibition changed to include work in a variety of subjects and media, and a new venue was found by kind permission of Sedbergh School, firstly in the Danson room and currently in the School Library, where it attracts wide interest and is favourably compared to the exhibitions of other societies. Over the years the outdoor sketching parties diminished (largely, alas, because of the weather!), but some members meet weekly in the People’s Hall to paint together, and there are occasional Workshops exploring new techniques and ideas. The winter demonstrations and talks also take place mainly in the Peoples Hall but the workshops have found a comfortable home in the Methodist Hall. (Note! All the 2017 winter demonstration will take place in the Methodist Hall, New Street Sedbergh.)
There is also an additional Wednesday Afternoon Art Group 13:15 to 15:30hrs held in the Peoples Hall which runs throughout the year with a break for the school holidays. Note members of this group have to pay for the hire of the room and subs currently run at £75 paid in three installments of £25 in Jan, May and Sept . Unfortunately because the room has to be book in advance, members are asked to commit to the group for one year. If you are interested you can contact John Conway via the contact page on this web site. Please look at the work done by the Wednesday Art Group under the Galleries Tab on this website.
To cater for another interest in the winter months, the Portrait group was inaugurated by Hilary Moore in 1981.The group meets fortnightly, and members take it in turn to host the gathering in their homes and find a sitter. This provides a valuable regular exercise in drawing from life as well as being an enjoyable and sociable time.
In 2019, membership of the Society currently stands at 41, and 127 paintings were on show at the 2017 Exhibition. Our Founder, Harry Bracken, would be delighted to know that the Sedbergh and District Art Society is still flourishing 48 years on!