© Lowestoft Art Group

Welcome to Lowestoft Art Group

About 1980 1 joined the Lowestoft and District Art Group. My first meeting happened to be the AGM and Wilf Sutton was chairman with Alice Welch as secretary or treasurer.

In those days the club was rather elitist, and new members were not welcomed as they are now, unless they proved to be good artists. Beginners were not encouraged except by a few of the kinder members such as Douglas Hosea and Harold Cushing. As one progressed however, one gradually became accepted. Freda Lepingwell and her husband were secretary and treasurer, and Freda ruled the club with a rod of iron. Woe betide anyone who didn't behave properly at meetings.

Watercolour was my chosen medium and under the influence and company of the afore mentioned Douglas and Harold, I spent some of the most enjoyable hours of my life. We painted on the spot in locations all over the district. Not an old barn within a 30 mile radius missed our interpretations. Both of my friends were free painters with a lovely loose style, but my style developed differently.

When I was Chairman of Oulton Broad Art Circle and John Rickarby was Chairman of Lowestoft and District Art Group, we became friends and decided to arrange a shared exhibition at the St Marks Church Hall (now the Martial Arts Centre, Oulton Broad). Strangely there was quite a lot of opposition to this from the Lowestoft Group; some members not wishing to dilute their talent by mixing with the young pretenders of Oulton Broad. Nevertheless it went ahead and was very successful for quality and sales. Sadly this shared exhibition only lasted about 3 years before silly rivalry from both clubs saw  it's demise.

Some time after this, I resigned from the Lowestoft Club to put my energies into the Oulton Broad Club

I rejoined several years later to find a club with no purpose and which had no fixed exhibition venue. They were holding exhibitions at venues as diverse as the conservative club at Southwold, to a small gallery on the High Street at Lowestoft with no proper publicity or signage. Meetings by that time had moved from Lord Kitcheners Memorial Home to the Clyffe Hotel on the sea front. The lighting was dismal and was poor for practical evenings.

I felt that I had something to offer the club following my 14 years experience as chairman at Oulton Broad and I offered myself for election as chairman here. Duly elected, 1 set about changing the club with a zeal that alienated several of the established members. My first task was to change the name of the club from the cumbersome Lowestoft and District Art Group to something different but easier on the tongue. Many suggestions were proposed but in the end it was decided to just drop the "and District”.  Peter Beare’s design for a new logo was accepted by the members and still appears on our stationery and at the top of this website.

My next task was to make screens and stands for the club, because our exhibitions were hung on a variety of borrowed screens of all sizes and colours which I thought was disgraceful for Lowestoft's premier art club. I made the first one as a prototype and it received a lukewarm reception. Some said where are we going to store them? Others; why do we need them any way?  I ignored their protestations and went ahead and built and painted the remainder which are still in use today

A Step Forward by David Balder

The first exhibition at St Marks was a revelation in the club's history. It was professionally advertised and presented on the new screens and I was very proud to be chairman of a great rejuvenated club.

Following my chairmanship stint of 3 years I was honoured to be elected as president for the following 3 years.

I shall never be a great painter but I love what 1 do, and my life within the club has been for the most part, great fun. I apologise unreservedly to those who disagreed with my policies during my stewardship, but I do believe quite humbly, that the club is on a far better footing and continues to flourish under the current enthusiastic and warm approach of Glynis (our Chairman) and Carl Butcher (our Treasurer).  You may not agree with everything they do. That's life. But unless you are willing to step up and have a go yourself, then accept the fact that everything the officers and committee do for the club is done in the best interests of the club and it's future."

Looking for a new and better venue for our meetings, the new church hall at St Marks was approached and despite more protests and resignations from some members, it became our meeting place. Not only did it have space and light, it had a car park as well.

My dear old friend and superb signwriter, Joe Rouse, whom I introduced to the club, agreed to write signs to advertise the exhibition on my old flush ply doors which I had painted white for the purpose.

The rear of St. Mark’s Church & Hall

Our Summer Exhibition in St. Mark’s  in 2006