CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Dorking Group of Artists

PUBLISHED: 15:21 23 May 2007 | UPDATED: 17:24 03 July 2014

Karen Pearson, chairman of Dorking Group of Artists, gets to work in the studio

Karen Pearson, chairman of Dorking Group of Artists, gets to work in the studio

In the first of a new series profiling Surrey's best known art groups, we meet Karen Pearson, chairman of the Dorking Group of Artists, which is celebrating its diamond anniversary this year

by Caroline Harrap


1) When was the group started, and who was it formed by and why?

It was set up in 1947 just after the Second World War. Don Jeffries, the town clerk, was keen to get an art society established in Dorking so he asked certain artists in the local area, some being members of the Royal Academy, if they could form a group. Donald MacMorran and Tony Marsh, a painter and sculptor, took up the responsibility of organising the society, which became part of the Dorking Crafts Society, then later the artists separated from the craft members to form the Dorking Group of Artists.

William E Narraway was one of the more famous founder members of the DGA. He was a council member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and renowned for the portraits he painted of the royal family.

2) What is the main aim of the society today?

I'm pleased to say it is a thriving local art group that aims to bring together artists of any age or ability. It encourages the exchange of artistic skills, inspiration and ideas between like minded companions in a friendly informal environment. As a group, we try to be as open minded and as forward thinking as we can, encouraging the practise of experimental work as well as developing traditional painting and drawing techniques. We show our members work to the public by organising two major exhibitions a year.

3) When and where do you meet?

The DGA meets every Tuesday throughout the year. Our winter programme runs from September to Easter at Beare Green Village Hall. This is an exciting structured programme of tutorials, demonstrations and painting sessions. During the summer months, we run weekly sessions of outdoor painting at many different venues in Surrey. Many of these are places not normally accessed by the public and the subject matter can be quite challenging!

4) How many members do you have?

We have around 200 members and have three levels of membership. The group accommodates any level of artistic experience or expertise.

5) And are you more Tate Modern or traditional landscapes?

Both. Our members produce a diverse range of two dimensional work from contemporary abstract to traditional and figurative work. One of our members, Jim Tucker, makes pictures out of junk, a process known as assemblage. Another, Frances Jordan, has just graduated from Central St Martin's and produces large striking oil paintings. Then there is the semi-abstract and collage work hanging alongside traditional watercolours and pastels on a wide range of subjects. For example, David Runnalls paints atmospheric oil landscapes, Robert Bellamy favours muted watercolours of boats and horses and Clare Spratt produces soft pastels of figures and still life.

6) Do you have any famous artists in your midst?

We have several members who are well known professional artists. Ben and Stephanie Manchipp, Chris Forsey and Magaret Heath, to name a few, are all prolific artists and tutors who are active within the DGA. Together with our semi professional members, they give invaluable help to our beginner and amateur members and support all our exhibitions.

7) What's the most exciting thing that's happened in the group's history?

This year is the DGA's diamond anniversary, which is very exciting! We will be celebrating this by organising a Christmas exhibition with the Guildford Arts group later this year and also by organising a brand new art event called 'Painting in Public'. This new event will coincide with the Arts Alive Festival on October 6 and it will be a way of bringing artists directly to the public in Dorking town centre. We will also be running a children's painting event in the shopping centre called 'Creating with Colour', which will be great fun!

8) And the funniest?

We have a lot of laughs, but one of the funniest scenarios was when one of our members had three life studies stolen from our exhibition. She took it as a back handed compliment and didn't report the incident. Two weeks later, she was contacted by the police, who returned her paintings unharmed. They explained that, unbeknown to her, the night her paintings went missing there was a cash theft on the same premises. They responded to a tip off and paid the villain a visit. When they searched his flat, they found the missing cash and the three paintings under his bed with her contact details on the back of them. He said he had bought them at a car boot sale, but instinct told them he wasn't telling the truth. So all ended well ....for our member anyway!

9) Do you welcome new members and, if so, what should interested people do?

Yes, we always welcome new members whether interested in participating in all or part of the group's activities. Please look at our website for more information, email or phone Marilyn Runnalls, DGA membership secretary, on 01306 628090.



More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:06

Education expert Dr Ryan Hinchey, Coordinator of College Counselling at ACS International School, with campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions

Read more
Yesterday, 11:34

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

Read more
Mon, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Mon, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search