Burton Art Club

Burton Art Club enjoys strong links with Rolleston and has a nucleus of enthusiastic members from the village.

In the summer of 1946, as a result of a casual conversation between two exhibitors at the Burton Art Gallery and the then Borough Librarian, Mr K.F. Stanesby, an advertisement was placed in the Burton Mail inviting all those interested in forming an Art Club in Burton. 18 people attended and the decision was taken to constitute the Burton Art Club.

The first meeting took place on 21st November 1946 at the School of Arts and Crafts in Waterloo Street. The annual subscription was half-a-crown (12.5p). The scarcity of art materials at that time is illustrated by the fact that Winsor and Newton had to be contacted and they agreed to do their utmost to supply the extra items then being ordered through the Craft Shop in Waterloo Street. Even so, plans were already being made for exhibiting work.

However, this initial enthusiasm was to be put to the test during the winter of 1946/47. The "Big Freeze-up" with its prolonged and severe weather put a great strain on a country trying to recover from the War. The few enthusiasts who struggled to the Art School for the weekly meetings had to endure a cold room and inadequate lighting and by mid February meetings had to be abandoned until further notice.

Post war problems were again experienced when the Club came to staging its first exhibition. Shortages of wood and glass made framing difficult and members were urged to seek out suitable materials at local auctions. . In spite of all this there were a 123 paintings exhibited in March 1948 at the Museum and Art Gallery, Guild Street. Over 2,500 people viewed the exhibition which created much interest in the town.

One person to show paintings in that first exhibition was Mr Cec Bullock, the Club’s current President. Other long serving officers include Mr R. S. Collins, who was Chairman from 1946-78, Mrs Maisie Birch who was secretary for 25 years and Mrs Joan Baxter who was Treasurer for 18 years.

The status of the Club was recognised in 1964 by Sir Clifford Gothard when he established a trust fund to enable members to enjoy visiting speakers and demonstrators. The Club is still benefiting from this today.

The fluctuations in membership and availability of venues over the years have necessitated a number of changes of meeting place: the Education Offices in Guild Street; the Cooper’ arms; the Star Inn in High Street; Midland Joinery Works in Lichfield Street; the Ada Chadwick Building and finally the Forest of Needwood School in 1989. It was at this time that the Club first advertised in Rollestonian.

Since that time the club has forged ties with the village which has become a regular sketching venue on summer evenings and has featured in countless paintings. In recent years the Club has run a stall at the John of Rolleston Community Day. Thursday evenings have become unofficial "Artists Night" at the Jinnie Inn and the conversation often reverts to the subject that joins us together - a love of art. It is hoped that whatever the future holds in store we will always be able to find a venue suitable for a group of enthusiastic artists in Rolleston.

Glenys Tunstall

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Last updated: 5 April 2000