ABOUT THE COOKHAM ARTS CLUB
Cookham and Cookham Dean Arts Club, later renamed Cookham Arts Club, was formed in 1941 when several artists escaped the bombing in London. They settled in Cookham and the surrounding area as some of them were friends of Stanley Spencer who was not a member but often exhibited with the club. We have a copy of a letter, dated 6th May 1941 (see overleaf), inviting Mrs Shepard (wife of the local doctor) to join the Club when it was just being formed. The entrance fee for founder members was two shillings and six pence. The wording of the letter expresses the horror and anxiety that people were experiencing in England at this time in World War II. As the letter shows the newly formed club was keen to include several branches of the arts like ballet, music and literature as well as painting.
From its very beginnings the club hoped to be a ‘refreshment and stimulant for tired minds and that it will encourage the amateur and interest the professional’. These aspirations can easily apply today albeit for different reasons and we still welcome and wish to encourage beginners as well as interest the more able artists and professionals. Exhibitions were organised from the beginning, mostly held at Pinder Hall but sometimes in the church hall. In the 50s the catalogue cost 6d but by 1966 it was 1/- and Membership was £1. In the 70s the Clubs way of encouraging beginners was to organise Sunday outdoor painting sessions where they could begin to learn to paint. There was a small exhibition of their work in the winter.
A small group of today’s members still paint ‘en plein air’ on some Sundays in the summer, followed by tea and cake.
The club members were very active, producing pantomimes and plays, performing ballets, doing play and poetry readings and having musical evenings. During the early years the Preview Evening of the exhibition opening was a Soiree with someone officially opening it, music and of course, wine. Prices for paintings in the catalogue was expressed in Guineas.
Some of the artists were well-known nationally. Here are a few of them:
Frank Sherwin R.I. lived in High Street, Cookham and was a watercolourist. He is mainly known as the artist who painted all those wonderful railway posters that used to be seen in train carriages. During the war he was an adviser to the War Office on the camouflage of airfields. He regularly exhibited at CAC exhibitions until the 1970s and wrote an article in Leisure Painter in 1979. He served on the selection panel several times. He died in Slough in 1986. On Wikipedia and on various websites you can see examples of his railway posters and other paintings.
Henry Trivick R.B.A. (Royal Society of British Artists), 1908-1983, was a well-known painter and lithographer. He was a friend of Stanley Spencer and taught him how to make lithographs.
He lived in Bourne End and painted mostly abstracts, landscapes and buildings.
Examples of his work can be seen on various websites and information on the British Museum website..
Daphne Charlton was married to George Charlton, also an artist. They both taught at the Slade School of Art which, during the war moved to Oxford. She was one of Stanley Spencer’s lovers. They painted each other and she appeared in some of his paintings including one with his first wife Hilda and she also knew Patricia Preece, Stanley’s second wife.
Daphne painted a self portait which can be seen online. Also paintings by Stanley Spencer of Daphne and others may be seen on various websites. The Stanley spencer gallery has a wonderful collection of Stanley Spencer paintings including a pencil drawing of Daphne.
Ralph Thompson S.W.L.A was a well-known animal artist and book illustrator who worked with Gerald Durrell to illustrate his books. He also appeared on BBC TV before the news, painting on screen. He often worked in black and white, was a friend of Stanley Spencer and lived in Cookham Dean. More information is on Wikipedia and examples of his work is on various websites.
Robert Duckworth Greenham Trained at the R.A. School of Art. He painted lots of local scenes of the river, examples of which can be seen on various websites. He also did portraits of famous film stars and actresses some of which may be seen in the Portrait Gallery in London.
There are several artists who were and are known locally but not so much nationally, and exhibited with CAC, like Juliette Palmer R.B.A; Jack Widgery; Chris Tyrrell; John Ellis; Denis Pannett, R.S.M.A, Wapping Group, who has given us several workshops; Derek Eastoe; Tim Mallett; Giulio Bagnoli, an Italian artist. There are many others who could be mentioned but their names are not especially known today.
Well-known Sculptresses like Reca McGibbon who sculpted the head of Stanley Spencer and several local sculptures and worked at Moor Hall for Animaland Animations. Lydia Karpinska, known for her sculptures, exhibited paintings with CAC for several years before becoming a widely known sculptress. Locally she sculpted ‘The Boy and the Boat’ at the top of Maidenhead High Street and the one of Nicholas Winton on Maidenhead Station, who organised some of the Kindertransport in the Second World War.
Some of the pottery produced by John Bew and his team in the late 40s until the mid-50s at the Odney Pottery in Cookham was exhibited at Cookham too. This pottery was sold in John Lewis stores and Maidenhead Heritage Centre has quite a number of examples on display.
At the 80th Exhibition (in our 81st year) an elderly gentleman, David Ricardo, spoke to me saying ‘I bet you haven’t met anyone else who came to your first Exhibition like I did?’ He was well into his 80s and Daphne Charlton had painted his portrait when he must have been quite a small boy. He told me that his grandfather once owned Quarry Wood Hall (known locally as ‘the cardboard castle’). He didn’t want to stay long so I didn’t obtain any more information or get a photo of him.
As time has gone on Cookham Arts Club has given up some of the Arts activities that we used to do and nowadays we focus on Painting with sculptures, pottery, wood carving and glass exhibited at our exhibitions.
Kay Lamb, President, September 2022
The club produces a monthly newsletter with interesting articles and photos of the previous month’s events and details of forthcoming events, including the venue, booking details and fees.
Once a month at Cookham Parish Centre we have a 2 hour demonstration by a professional artist. There is a small charge of £1 to cover hire of the hall and refreshments, (non-members or guests are welcome but they pay £4 per session). Details of the demonstrations may be found in the Events Calendar and the newsletter
ALL DAY PAINTING SESSIONS
REGULAR PAINTING SESSIONS
REGULAR PAINTING SESSIONS
Regular painting sessions are held each week and once a month there is a monthly meeting with a demonstration by a visiting artist. Four times a year we have all-day workshops with a professional artist to facilitate the day.
THE CLUB ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The club holds an AGM followed by a talk each year in November. The club also has social events including a summer party, often held in a member’s garden and a Christmas party to which partners are also invited
COOKHAM ARTS CLUB SAA AFFILIATION
The Club is affiliated to the SAA (Society for all Artists) which has thousands of members worldwide.
We have Third Party Public Liability Insurance for our Exhibitions with the SA