History - 1922 to 2022
Founded in 1922 by Alfred Ryland, Principal of Maidstone College of Art together with his staff and students to celebrate and promote the visual arts in all its forms and to hold an exhibition of work at least once a year. Disrupted only by war and pandemics the requirement to hold exhibitions of members' work has been met and is still a highlight of our year. Venues have changed over the century but the quality of work and creative buzz of anticipation is constant. The Preview Evening has always been an opportunity to open our doors to family and friends and the people of Maidstone to share our passion for the visual arts. Our most recent exhibition held in the centre of Maidstone at Fremlin Walk in our Centenary Year was possibly our greatest success and would have brought a smile of satisfaction to the face of our founder.
The Society has been graced over the years by great men such as Winston Churchill and Graham Sutherland together with many public figures and artists whose names may be less well known today but in their time were equally famous. Lord Conway of Allington our first President was an author, explorer and cartographer mapping the Himalayas and the Andes. Later being a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery in which his portrait by Augustus John hangs. Architect and politician Lord Bossom, father of the skyscraper in America. Influenced by the Art Deco movement his stylised lines and vision are still evident in great public buildings in cities such as New York and Chicago.
The Society has encouraged and promoted new ideas and influences throughout its history. The move away from the Arts and Crafts movement to Art Deco and the modern contemporary of Sutherland are evident in the work of many past members and grace the walls of numerous galleries including the Tate and the National. Gertrude Hadenfelt, Charles Spencelayh and J Paul Cooper are a few names that come to mind, but the list is very long. Thankfully our society welcomes all levels of ability and requires only a love of art to be a member. Principles that have sustained our first hundred years and will guarantee our next hundred years.
Special mention must be made of the Committee of the Society, without whom there would be no Society. Tireless, and thankless they have sustained interest and provided a haven for artistic endeavour and the pursuit of happiness over the years. They will remain unsung heroes although they can all take pride in their success. May they long continue.
MI - 18.12.22