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Woking Society of Arts ~ join the club

PUBLISHED: 09:09 27 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:26 20 February 2013

Woking Society of Arts ~ join the club

Woking Society of Arts ~ join the club

Every month, we meet a different club in the county to find out what they get up to. <br/><br/>In the latest instalment, the members of Woking Society of Arts go under the spotlight

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2012

Every month, we meet a different club in the county to find out what they get up to. In the latest instalment, the members of Woking Society of Arts go under the spotlight

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The Low-down:
Name of club:
Woking Society of Arts
In a nutshell: An organisation to promote the arts for artists and craftspeople of all abilities.
Person interviewed: Liz Seward, president
Been a member for: 36 years
Joined because... of the opportunity to meet and work with other artists.

When was the club set up?
The society was set up to promote and develop art within the community and to provide a meeting ground and support to artists. It arose out of the Woking Art Club, formed in the 1920s, dissolved during World War II but re-formed in 1943.

How many members do you have?
Today, we have approximately 200 members. Among the founder members was Molly Brett (1912-1990) who was notable for her fairy illustrations in childrens weekly papers and annuals, including various illustrations of books by Enid Blyton. She also wrote several childrens books and featured in many radio and TV programmes. Another was Marjorie Best whose superb watercolours of flowers were collected widely before her death in the early 1990s when she herself was 90. Portrait artist Morse Brown was president in 1959 and was acclaimed for his commissioned portrait of Sir Hopkins Morris, deputy speaker at the House of Commons.

Where do you meet?
At the Vyne Centre in Knaphill, Woking, on the first Saturday of every month, from 2.15pm to 4.30pm. There is a free car park nearby and you can find a map on our website at: Most of these meetings usually include demonstrations by well-known professional artists representing a wide range of styles and media.

Whats the best thing about being a member of the club?
Making friends and sharing information. Also, interacting with other like-minded artists and improving skills and techniques by watching demonstrations and attending their workshops. In addition, it provides artists with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their works.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Yes, always. Irrespective of your ability or experience as an artist, there is always something to learn or discover by interacting with other artists.

Have you got links with other clubs?
Yes, many members are also members of other art societies, and some are members of professional societies based in London such as The Society of Women Artists, the Society of Limners and the Hilliard Society and have had paintings accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Whats the most interesting story from the groups history?
Our move from exhibiting in small church halls to The Lightbox in Woking. From 1987, the society was very fortunate in being able to hold their annual exhibition in the entrance hall of the Phillips Petroleum Building, but in 1996 Phillips had to increase their security arrangements and this was no longer possible. During this period, David Shepherd OBE was patron of the society and it enjoyed a high profile, many prominent people attended the exhibitions and thousands of pounds were raised for charities supported by the Mayor. From that time until 2010, our indoor exhibitions were held in the Trinity Methodist Church Hall and outdoor exhibitions under cover in Mercia Walk but for only one or two days at most instead of the one or two weeks duration in the past. Since October 2010, the society has been extremely pleased to be able to hold exhibitions at The Lightbox, Wokings premier venue for the arts. There are two annual exhibitions held in April and October of each year.

and the funniest?
Every painting demonstration by our then president, the eminent watercolourist Edward Wesson, in the late seventies and early eighties. During the meeting, he would produce several paintings encouraging us to be loose women and to remember the holes in the trees for the birds to fly through in landscapes and the half-crown touches at the end of a painting. He was the originator of many of the remarks that you hear from artists about their work today. He was also an outrageous flirt, which went down very well with the ladies. We also enjoyed oil painting demonstrations by John Lines, a member of the Royal Society of Marine Painters, who would paint a whole painting on his knees so that everyone could see. He always referred to his box of paints and brushes as the office. There were no empty seats when these two visited us and our faces ached from laughing all the way home.

When is your next event that is open to the public/potential new members?
Potential new members are very welcome to visit us at the monthly Saturday afternoon meetings and to view our indoor exhibitions at The Lightbox; in 2013, these will be held in April and October. We will also hold outdoor exhibitions in Mercia Walk, Woking town centre, on Saturdays in June and September, where information on the society will be freely available.

Describe your club in five words...
Friendly, inspiring, supportive and forward looking.

  • For more information about Woking Society of Arts, call 01483 811214 or see their website at

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