Society of Arts open to all

From right to left, Brenda Barker, Jean Waterworth, Shirley Melville, Lea Woutersen and Susan Kirsopp at work at The Painting Place.

Tucked away in a small building above Te Ko Utu Lake a group of artists gather each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning for a few hours of creative chatter, with works of art to show for it at the end.

The Cambridge Society of Arts has been based out of the Thornton Rd premises known as The Painting Place since it started in the 1960s, and while members have come and gone, its kindred creativity has lived on.

The organisation has 52 members on is books, with an average of about 20 to 25 people turning out each week to paint, pastel or use whatever medium they like to create works of art. Some of these hang on the walls, some are for sale, and some are simply taken home or stowed away for the organisation’s two annual exhibitions.

For many, the group is more about having a relaxed social morning together, with art work to keep them busy. “More than anything our group here is a social group – having a laugh, having a cup of tea,” said Susan Kirsopp.

“You make friends, have a good chat,” added Jean Waterworth. “It can be daunting for someone to come in… I was terrified when I first came, but I’m so glad I did.”

“Anybody is welcome, anytime, to come check it out,” said Brenda Barker.

Fellow group member Ineke Matthys emphasises, “We are not exclusive, you don’t have to be good at painting to come along.

“There’s no competition or negative critiquing,” she said. “You learn here, you build up confidence. It’s so positive.”

From left, Susan Kirsopp, Lea Woutersen, Ineke Matthys, Shirley Melville, Jean Waterworth and Brenda Barker show the works they’re currently working on.

Ineke said both men and women are welcome to join the group, with members ranging from their 20s to 90s. One thing all the members have in common is they all love making art. “It’s something that comes from the soul,” said Ineke.

“I came here five years ago after I saw the ad in the paper and thought, ‘well, I like painting’, and came along.” she said.

In addition to all the basic facilities including a kitchen, tea, coffee, biscuits, The Painting Place boasts an extensive library of art books to refer to or find inspiration. Members pay an annual fee of $60 each January, though anyone is welcome to come along a few times to try out the group without any obligations of payment.

Four times a year the Society hosts workshops with professional New Zealand artists, and during the Cambridge Autumn Festival and in November they hold a public art exhibition. Each month the group also spotlights an artist in their “feature wall” – this month’s feature artist being Kirsten McIntosh.

To find out more about the group visit the Cambridge Society of Arts Facebook page or phone treasurer Ineke Zegwaard on 823 3407 or President Lindsay Muirhead on 021 245 8800. People are also welcome to come along to one of the weekly meetings – held every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 10am to 12pm.

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