History of the Art Show

Upper Broughton 40th Art Show

A history of the Art Show by Michael Copley.

In 1983 Upper Broughton Parish Council decided to purchase the Village Hall from the Church. It was in the most appalling condition and Parish Councillor George Harris agreed to form a Village Hall Committee to come up with ideas for raising money to try and improve the Hall. Chris Reeves suggested an exhibition of work by local artists might be a good fund-raising event. George Harris liked this idea and plans were made for a three day exhibition during the August bank holiday of 1983. Rushcliffe Community Arts Department donated £25 as prize money in the hope of attracting artists. This money was split into three prizes of £8 each with the spare £1 designated to help with expenses. Those were the days!

Art Show early image 1a

George Harris persuaded members of Kirby Bellars Art Group to enter some of their work. The first show attracted 11 artists who showed 47 paintings. Incredibly, George Harris slept in the hall on all three nights to protect the paintings! Putting the show on had proved quite a struggle. Cloth screens had to be borrowed and were balanced on wobbly trestle tables with some paintings even hung from coat hangers. Eve Barker was one of the first organisers and Brenda Ormonde helped with the hanging. Finding volunteers willing to act as stewards and to serve refreshments (tea and biscuits) proved almost impossible.

Basically, George Harris did all the organising himself. Even so, the Committee felt that the public had shown enough interest in the show and it was decided to hold a two day event the following year.

In 1987 Rosemary Russell joined the Village Hall Committee and suggested the refreshments needed improving, stating that “Biscuits are boring”. Unable to persuade the other ladies to change their ways, tea and biscuits were again served at the fifth show. The sixth show was arranged for the 15th and 16th of October 1988, but events were to take a dramatic turn.

On the 4th of October, eleven days before the show George Harris died. It was his drive, enthusiasm and knowledge that had kept the show going. A shocked committee decided to cancel the exhibition, realising that only George Harris knew what arrangements had been made for the show.

Art Show Image 1b

Rosemary Russell took over as organiser and by November 1988 the show was back on track. New members with interesting ideas came forward and an Art Show Committee began to take shape. Anne Copley was asked to help improve the refreshments. It was decided to make rolls filled with ham, cheese and salad, plus a selection of homemade cakes. This proved so successful that savoury scones, ploughman’s lunches, quiches with salads and even hot meals were later served. An array of ever more exotic cakes, all made in the village, proved so popular that the show became as well known for its refreshments as it did for the artwork.

Anne Copley was also keen to hold a Preview Evening on the Friday of the show. This required some expenses for her homemade canapés and wine but the Village Hall Committee refused to use any of their money for such a strange idea. Anne decided to raise the money herself, holding a fashion show and a coffee morning amongst other fundraising events, putting the profits into her first Preview Evening. It grew into an enormous success and she continued to run the Preview Evening for the next 33 years.

Pat Bishop offered to run a children’s art show in Rose Cottage and this attracted many parents eager to see whether their children had won a prize. Other ideas for Rose Cottage included photographic exhibitions and even Paint Your Own Pots.

Early Art Show

The reputation of the show grew with each year. The show is open to all artists, exhibitors don’t have to enter in advance, the Committee hopes that they will just turn up, and they always do. New lighting gave the show a more professional look, screens, in the form of cubes, were commissioned. A new problem began to emerge; lack of space. The upper parts of the walls were boarded to allow paintings to be hung higher, the cubes were opened out to form zig-zags, and Rose Cottage now had to be used to hang yet more paintings. Ceramics, glass and 3D workswere now being exhibited along with prints in browsers for sale.

Each section of the show had its own importance. Hanging fees, commission on sales, preview evening, raffle and of course the refreshments. Combined, the funds raised helped to keep the Village Hall open. In 2010 it was estimated that 50 people were needed to run the show.

In 2020 the pandemic struck and the show was cancelled. The committee met on Cross Green in early 2021 to decide the fate of the Art Show. The answer was a resounding yes with the show being moved from October to May, and now being called a Spring Art Show. Rosemary Russell stood down as Chair replaced by Jo Merchant & Sally Edwards. new members also joined the committee.

The first Spring Art Show opened in May 2022 and was a huge success. Anne Copley retired from running the Preview Evening, but like Rosemary she continues to help at the show.

2024 will be the 40th anniversary of the Upper Broughton Art Show and plans are already in place to celebrate this remarkable event.

George Harris would have been very proud of how it’s all turned out…

Village Hall interior Spring 22