The Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society is celebrating an incredible 100 years this year. The annual open exhibition is a local highlight of the arts calendar in North Devon with work by some of the best established and up-and-coming local artists. On show this year is an eclectic mix of over 300 artworks, 2D, 3D and photographic – a visual treat, with something for everyone. The society and the Burton were delighted to welcome hundreds of visitors over the opening weekend and to their private view, including many of the talented artists on show as well as their family and friends.
The Ken Doughty prize (a commemoration of the Society’s past president) will be awarded to an outstanding artwork chosen from the exhibition. Ken served as chairman since 1993 and president since 2002. A stalwart of the watercolour tradition, on his death his wife presented the society with a bequest from him for their use.
Formed in 1922 as the Westward Ho! Art Club their first exhibition was on display at Jubilee Hall in Westward Ho! With a permanent premise in Bideford. The club moved to Bridge buildings in the 1930s which included an exhibition space as well as being their headquarters. Continuing to show annual exhibitions even throughout World War Two. The annual exhibition began showing at the Burton at Bideford in 1954 after permission was granted from the Bideford Corporation and has continued to do so ever since. Their name was officially changed to the Westward Ho! And Bideford Art Society in 1963 as a tribute to the association with the borough without relinquishing the well-established link with Westward Ho!
Director of the Burton at Bideford, Ian Danby says: The Burton at Bideford is delighted to play a small part of such a marvellous achievement celebrating 100 years of creative endeavour by artists both amateur and professional from across North Devon. This region has always been a place which draws artists and crafts people, a place with heritage and skill are nurtured and celebrated.
We also spoke to Gill Jones, the Chair of the WHOBID says:
Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society are delighted to be celebrating their 100th Anniversary at The Burton. A very special occasion for us all. The Society managed to hold an annual exhibition, even during wartime. It began its association with the Burton in 1954, and we have been here ever since!
We always have a large and diverse selection of artworks from our hugely talented local artists, and this year, having looked into our history, we will also be displaying some fascinating items and information from our archives which will be an interesting bonus for our visitors.
The Burton has always made us very welcome and we, in turn, look forward to welcoming you.
The exhibition will be on display until August 28, 2022