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HISTORY

 

The society was founded in 1929 by Mrs J M Bull the wife of the vicar of Findon, and at that time was called the Worthing and District Sketch Club with a membership of approximately 30. The membership was mostly female and met monthly, occasionally inviting well known artists along to criticise their work and offer encouragement.

The annual exhibition was originally held in the old Town Hall Worthing, but in 1943 the club was invited to exhibit at the Worthing Art Gallery and has exhibited there ever since.

During the 1940's and 1950's the format of club meetings changed somewhat to a mix of sketch club meetings, criticisms and workshops. The standard of work during these years rose gradually and membership now included some professional artists such as Norman Battershill, Charles Morris and Claude Muncaster. By 1953 the membership had increased to 77 and standards were well advanced with the club receiving good press reviews.

By the 1960's the consensus of opinion indicated that although the standard was very high the content was perhaps a little dull. One review in 1965 stated "A high degree of competence is immediately evident but no-one seems to dare chance their arm with anything offbeat".

By the end of the 1960's things were changing; each year there was an increasing number of adventurous spirits who found more exciting and stimulating subject matter than the familiar trees, bridges and flowers. By the mid-1970's the programme of events included demonstrations, criticisms and lectures with extra courses such as portrait and landscape painting and in 1975 experimentation in mixed media.

The Jubilee Exhibition took place in 1979 and at this time the museum decided to discontinue catalogues in a new policy decision.

In 1990 Juliet Pannett retired as President and gave the club the "Rose Bowl" for the coveted annual "Juliet Pannett Award". Following a distinguished career she died on August 22 2005 aged 94. The club also moved from Union Place to the current venue at Heene Community Centre.

In 1995 Anthony Stevens, the well known sculptor agreed to be President. He was head of sculpture at Newport School of Art and later head of fine art at Wimbledon. Anthony has had two major exhibitions at Worthing Museum. Sadly, in 2000 Anthony was taken ill and after several weeks in hospital, died. He will be fondly remembered as an active president who always took a genuine interest in the society and on many occasions gave lectures at meetings.

Our President for the last 10 years has been Philip Jackson the renowned sculptor, who had given talks on a number of occasions before being elected. During his Presidency Philip has given several more talks and always supports our exhibitions. Despite being a very busy and productive sculptor he has, and still does devote a considerable amount of his time to the society for which we are most grateful.