Although our group was officially founded in 1964, after the first Bollington Festival, its origins go back to 1955. The following is taken from a newspaper cutting, although we do not know which newspaper. The story was told by Binkie Renton, one of our founding members.
“In 1955, Mr and Mrs Liley bought our house in Adlington Road. Doris Liley had trained at the Royal College of Art in London, as had her husband, William, who was head of an art college in Ashton-Under-Lyne.
I, too, had trained at Liverpool College of Art, and with this interest in common, Doris and I went to life classes in Macclesfield.
News spreads quickly in Bollington! Soon we met others who were interested, so Doris suggested that we got together to paint as a group. This we did, either at her home or my own in Bollington Cross, mostly doing portraits or still life, while Mr Burrows, of The Mount, who was a watercolourist, gave us the use of his large summerhouse, from which we could paint his lovely garden.
There were now eight of us: Elaine Mosley, Dorothy Hopkins, Winifred Johnson, Lisa Bysh, Amy Burgess, Jean Coope, Doris and myself, and when, in 1964, Dr John Coope was planning his first Bollington Festival he asked if we could hold an exhibition, ‘Bollington On View’.
As locally we were still thin on the ground, non-residents were also invited to participate, provided their paintings were of local scenes.
The exhibition itself was held in the Welfare Centre (between clinics!), creating great interest with many further applications to join. From this point the properly constituted Art Group can be said to have developed.
We painted at Water Street and St. John’s schools, and the mill canteen at Pool Bank, before coming to rest at the Civic Hall, with tutors from Macclesfield College, Ian Price and Graham Bolshaw, providing great stimulus and encouragement.
By the time of the next festival, Mary and Keith Godwin had joined, Mary to become the Secretary, then Chairman. Sketching weekends followed at Whitby and in the Lake District, together with our house meetings to which we brought our work for discussion.
We owe so much to Doris, without whom none of this would have happened, and I am sure the Art Group has encouraged a great deal of creative talent and given pleasure to many people.”
What a wonderful tale of our history! I’m sure our members will agree that we have much to thank those founders for.