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History of Pontefract Art Club

Pontefract Art Club was founded in early 1978. Alan Bracken, in business as a commercial artist, Head of Graphics at Doncaster Institute of Higher Education and a keen amateur artist, felt there was a place for an art club in Pontefract. Encouraged by full-time artist John Lacoux, then living in Bretton, Alan set about canvassing a number of interested people and arranged a meeting at his home in Pontefract. As a result Pontefract Art Club was formed and Alan appointed Chairman. He was later to also serve as President and was active in the Club until his death.

Until permanent premises were found the Club met frequently for outdoor painting sessions. The first Annual Exhibition was held in November 1978 when around 150 paintings were exhibited. By that time the Club membership had reached over eighty. William Selby was President and subsequently went on to become a leading professional artist and member of several national societies.

Permanent premises were found at The Museum in Salter Row and the Club continued to meet there until 2010 when the meeting room became unavailable. A new venue was found at Micklegate Methodist Church where the club met for three years before moving to the newly refurbished St. Giles Church in the centre of Pontefract.

It has been home to several artists who have gone on to make their mark in the art world, Harry Malkin, David Newbould, William Selby, William Shone, Ray Oliver and Janet Golphin (as Vice President of the Royal Watercolour Society) to name a few.

A history of the Club would be incomplete without a mention of the stalwart service given by Audrey Tarpey (as Chair for many years) and Gordon Fell who served in various capacities over many years. Both are sadly missed by the Club. Our President, David Newbould, continues to support and entertain the members and gives freely of his time and experience. Alan Bracken's widow, Dorothy, still supports the club by awarding The Alan Bracken Trophy each year to the most improved artist.

Many members have also exhibited throughout the years at prestigious exhibitions, both locally and nationally. The Club continues to flourish with around 65 members, and a varied programme of events culminating in the Annual Exhibition.

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