Great Yarmouth artist takes the reins at historic society

Great Yarmouth & District Society of Artists are hanging up artwork for their annual exhibition at G

Great Yarmouth & District Society of Artists are hanging up artwork for their annual exhibition at Great Yarmouth Library New chairman Lesley Storey with a piece of her work. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

The new chairman of one of Norfolk's oldest and most distinguished artist societies was this week learning the ropes ahead of its popular annual exhibition.

Lesley Storey, 44, is presiding over the Great Yarmouth and District Society of Artists's 87th show which starts tomorrow with over 60 works on display and artists in attendance to talk about their creations.

She said she was astounded by her 'whirlwind' elevation from associate member to chairman of the renowned society with a reputation for high standards.

And setting up was this year a particular challenge as she got to grips with a new no-nails hanging system at the library galleries involving a system of cables.

As chairman Mrs Storey replaces painter and miniaturist Margaret Carver who held the post for 28 years.

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Past society members include Royal Academician Sir John Arnesby-Brown, Campbell Mellon (chairman and Royal Academician), Rowland Fisher and Henry

Holzer. Today, society membership has shrunk from 80 to around 25, some of whom are professional painters although most are retired or have other jobs.

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Mrs Storey, of Coniston Square, Great Yarmouth, said she was thrilled to be presiding over such a wide range of quality works spanning moody sea-scapes, quirky fantasy pieces and watery Broadland scenes showing hidden barns and cottages.

Having shown as an associate artist last year and now presiding over her first full exhibition as a member - and chairman - was a real honour she said, especially given the society's proud and proven history.

'Margaret asked to stand down and somehow I got voted for. I feel really honoured considering the age of the society that they have put that trust in me so soon.

'This is a bit of a teething experience for me but I love being part of the society. It can be lonely being an artist.'

Camaraderie and encouragement had already improved her technique since being accepted by the society, she said as members' shared enthusiasm and worked together to advance art.

Generally around one in seven paintings are sold and the exhibition is always well attended. A 200 ticket-only private view for tonight, Friday, has already sold out.

Mrs Storey, is married to Ivan and the couple have a son Joseph, 11.

Having always wanted to be an artist she was blown off-course and ended up going into administration. But after 20 years she went back to college to study art and textiles although her heart was always in drawing, particularly faces and generally in ink.

She was spotted by Margaret Carver and invited to join the society after passing the selection process.

There will be a variety of subject matter on display in oils, water colours, pastels, acrylic, mixed media and pencil. Artists showing include John Applegate, Rickie Botwright, Margaret Carver, Bill Ditcham, John Dickson, Geoffrey Chatten and Rachel Thomas.

Mrs Carver said the appointment of Mrs Storey heraladed a new era, adding: 'I am so pleased to hand over the reins to such a competent and enthusiastic group of younger artists because they can bring new modern ideas to our traditional society but with standards being maintained.'

Julian Macey is still society president and at the age of 94 with failing eye sight has produced work for this exhibition as he has for 50 years.

A Rachel Thomas painting of a carousel is being sold in aid of a charity funding research into a rare muscle condition. Mrs Thomas's daughter Bronte, 13, has been diagnosed with McArdle's Disease, a non-progressive but limiting condition that can lead to kidney failure.

Viewing is from 10-4pm from tomorrow until next Saturday, closed Sunday.

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