Lofthouse Art Group

Lofthouse, Harrogate

Your story

Every picture tells a story !

( Whatever we paint or draw has some relevance to us, and there is always a background story to be told. The "chat" is a very important part of our group activity! )

Group introduction

The group was formed four years ago by one of our members - a widow in her late 70s, who had a love of painting, but found some of the other clubs or groups in the Harrogate area abit daunting, or expensive, as well as being some distance away.
We are a small and relatively isolated community (the nearest shop is 7 miles away!) with no bus service other than a tourist bus once a week on a Sunday, so opportunities for any social interaction are limited.
We have found that the art group serves two purposes. Firstly, it provides a regular weekly activity which is suitable for all ages and abilities. Secondly, it keeps the village hall in use which benefits the wider community as regular income from the hire keeps it viable.
Although the group only numbers eleven (we do live in a very small village!) our members range from complete beginners to those who have some real ability and we all share hints and suggestions on a very informal and friendly basis which encourages everyone to try out new ideas and have a go at things they would previously thought "beyond them".
All agree, the most important part of the group is the social element. There will be periods of quiet reflection as everyone concentrates on their individual artwork, broken by frequent chatter and laughter. Anecdotes aplenty - sometimes one of us (usually Judith) will dip her paintbrush in her coffee instead of her water pot - others will suddenly 'chip in' with a comment about a TV programme seen, or some local gossip - and then we're away. Anyone feeling stressed when they come in will leave felling the support of other members, and quite a bit brighter for the rest of the day.
We find we all watch out for each other. If someone is not their usual self, it is noted and members quietly make sure support is offered as needed.
Current members have adopted their roles informally up to now. One acts as treasurer, collecting the weekly subs and paying the village hall hire. Another looks after displays of our work at local cafes or at the annual 'Art Trail' in which our group puts on an exhibition of paintings to complement the event which is held throughout Nidderdale for a week in August.
We are in the process of formalising the group since we have recently been offered the use of a small building in the village in which to display our work throughout the year.
We have found that our "gallery" is already acting as something of a community hub. Open at weekends, locals pop in for a chat or exchange of local news, as well as walkers and visitors to the area. They have especially admired members work which captures the landscape of the AONB. We have artwork for sale at nominal prices to cover the cost of electricity and insurance.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

If successful, the group would like to spend the money on a stock of painting and drawing materials. This would mean that potential new members who do not have "all the gear" and don't want to initially make such an outlay for fear of not taking to it, can come along and use materials we could provide to get them going. Our oldest members who do not have online shopping skills could access materials when they run out, without the worry of a 2hr round trip to a shop.
We would like to run a number of free workshopsduring the year, when anyone could come along for a day and try their hand with materials provided.
We really can say that this is something EVERYONE can do, regardless of age or physical ability, and we feel the benefits of such a group in this type of community is invaluable - even if the numbers are small. There are no other activities in the dale which can be as inclusive
We feel these plans to increase participation will ensure the group continues for many years.

"I thought I was just a Dulux or Farrow & Ball sort of painter until I joined this group !
Ann Sowerby (member)"

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