History of Lingfield Art Exhibitions
The Lingfield Art Exhibition has been running for over 40 years and provides a forum for local artists to display their talent. None of this would be possible without the contributions of many volunteers who, over the years, have given their time to make it such a resounding success.
The story began in 1975/76 when Surrey County Council decided to use the building, which had previously been Lingfield Primary School, as a Community Centre for Lingfield residents. At this stage it was partly funded for Adult Education and partly for Youth Services.
In 1977 Jill Browning was appointed as Head of the Centre and Sheilah Gray joined as Centre Secretary. Art classes were run as part of the Adult Education curriculum and Jill and Sheilah realised that an Art Exhibition would provide a platform in which to show the work of the students and other local artists. Jacquet Mallinson provided expertise for hanging the exhibits and the administrative team managed the handing-in. The typing of the catalogue was undertaken as the paintings arrived which made an exciting and busy day. The Lingfield Art Exhibition had been born.
For the next 20 years the Art Show continued under various Centre Heads including; Tim Coulson, Sandra Silvester and Glennis Jones. Sheilah retired as Secretary in 1995 but kept up her involvement until 2004. However, in 2000, changes in the financing of education led Surrey County Council to end the funding of adult education in Lingfield. Tandridge District Council then became responsible for the Centre, delegating the day to day management to Lingfield Parish Council.
For the art exhibition to continue at least two people would be required to organise and run the event. Sheilah Gray and Audrey Gill (who had been involved in the past) volunteered, on the understanding that additional volunteers would be required in the future. Annabel Richardson offered to help, and Sheilah and Audrey retired in 2003. Annabel took over as organiser for the 2004 event with Sheilah’s help in the wings. Keith Pratt who had been an exhibitor, also volunteered to help organise the 2005 exhibition. However, in the run-up to the 2005 show, Annabel was taken ill, and Keith had to run the event on his own. Fortunately, he was able to call upon the support of a number of artists who had helped in the past.
At this time much of the ‘knowledge’ about the day-to-day operation of the exhibition had not been written down, so to safeguard this information for the future Keith contacted everyone involved and prepared a series of checklists covering all aspects of the event. When Annabel came out of hospital after the 2005 event, they both realised that if either he or Annabel were indisposed on a future occasion, the event would not survive, so they began recruiting additional help and an Exhibition Team was formed. The early members of the Team included local artists Liz Moor, Ann Kerr, John Morris and Chris West.
In 2007 Keith took the lead, and with Annabel, they enlarged the Team to include Avril Sharp & Linda Hughes. A Hanging Team was also formalised including early exhibitors; John & Joan Rees Davies, Collyn & Gwen Perrin, Dennis & Connie Blow, Anne Knowler and many others. All the team members were volunteers.
In 2008 the Parish Council decided that they no longer wished to carry the financial risk of running the event, so Keith formed a limited company, Lingfield Art Ltd. This was a not for-profit organisation, which was not affiliated to any art group or association. It acquired the assets (screens, equipment, etc.), and the remaining funds were moved into a community bank account.
The exhibition continued to be held in the Lingfield and Dormansland Community Centre, and grew to over 400 works of art produced by over 120 artists. The entire Centre is occupied for a week in what has become one of the leading art exhibitions on the Surrey, Kent and Sussex borders.
The Team continued to be expanded adding Ken Farmer, Tracey Bell, Andy Shattock, Heather Francis, Irene Hinton, June Ragsdale, Bryan Robinson, Andrea Fawcett-Philippart and, briefly, Phil Durell. Time has moved on. A limited company was no longer required and was closed in early 2017 when an Art Association was formed with the Exhibition Team Members becoming trustees. This ensures that the future of the exhibition is managed and controlled by everyone on the Team. To avoid storage costs, most of the large equipment was donated to the Lingfield Community Centre, the small equipment being housed by the Team members.
In parallel with the changes in management, there have also been changes to the format of the exhibition. Browsers are now provided so that artists can display unframed paintings for sale. We also want to encourage the next generation of artists and in 2016 we introduced an Art Competition open to 6th form pupils at local schools. The winning pictures are displayed throughout the duration of the exhibition.
The Lingfield Art Association Trustees remained largely unchanged over the past few years and were; Keith Pratt, Ken Farmer, Heather Francis, Linda Hughes, Bryan Robinson, Irene Hinton and Andrea Fawcett Philippart. In recent years, the team has grown and now include Jill Green, Brenda Gilbey, Frances Hawke, Peter Higgins and Rachel Worsley. The full team is shown here.
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