Galashiels Studio Club’s 70th birthday exhibition

Exhibition opening...Rotary vice-president Ruth Collin presenting a young artist award to Lucy Reid in 2017.
Exhibition opening...Rotary vice-president Ruth Collin presenting a young artist award to Lucy Reid in 2017.

This year marks 70 years since the Galashiels Studio Club was first founded by a group of local artists.

So the club’s annual exhibition this month, which runs from Saturday, May 5, to Sunday, June 3, will be an extra special celebration.

Longest serving member...Lena Scott at the easel, aged 15, in 1959. She is currently the club's treasurer and is still very active, even though she is now aged 76!

Longest serving member...Lena Scott at the easel, aged 15, in 1959. She is currently the club's treasurer and is still very active, even though she is now aged 76!

Former members of the club have been invited back to showcase their work, alongside existing members of the group.

Among their number is Melville Brotherston, who has been invited to open this year’s exhibition at Old Gala House.

Now a professional artist living in Dumfries, one of Melville’s works will also be on display.

Since the club was first founded in 1948 by, among others, well-known local businesseman Forbes Adam, the annual exhibition has been held in Old Gala House.

And club members continue to regularly meet at the venue.

The longest serving member is undoubtedly Galashiels woman Lena Scott, who joined when she was just 15 years old.

Secretary Marion Neilson said: “Lena has been our longest serving member, holding several positions on the committee.

“She is currently our treasurer and, although now aged 76 years old, is still very much an active member of our club.

“Our relationship with Old Gala House has also remained strong throughout the years.

“Our exhibitions have always been held there, albeit we’ve moved rooms in that time. We hold our regular meetings there too.”

Studio Club members, of which there are currently 25, meet weekly from October to March when a range of guest speakers is invited to discuss everything from pottery to ceramics.

But the highlight of the annual calendar for members is always the yearly exhibition.

Marion said: “We are all very enthusiastic amateur artists whose work is of a pretty high standard.

“The exhibition gives us all a chance to showcase our work and, of course, the possibility of selling our art to interested parties.

“We’re all very much looking forward to this year’s exhibition and viewing the additional artworks on show from former members.”

Abstract artist Liz Douglas, who also teaches art in college, will be showcasing her work. As a former member, she was delighted to be asked to take part.

But it’s not just former and existing members who will be celebrated at the annual display.

Marion explained: “Three years ago we instigated young artists’ prizes, supported by Galashiels Rotary and the Academy.

“As well as getting a monetary prize, the senior winner and runner-up and junior winner and runner-up show their paintings in our exhibition too.

“It adds an extra dimension to the display, showcasing young artists from the local area.

“We present the prizes every year now and it has been a great success with pupils. It’s lovely for us as some of these younger students may well become members of the Studio Club in years to come too.

“Anything we can do to encourage youngsters to take up art, we’re happy to do.”

To celebrate their 70th year, members – led by well-known artist Janet Cleghorn – have also been working on one very special piece of art for this year.

Marion explained: “We’ve all taken black and white pictures of Galashiels over the years and Janet is bringing them all together in one artwork.

“It’s a pot pourri of pictures from the town, representing the last 70 years which I’m sure locals will find very interesting.”

Sadly, the artwork wasn’t quite ready to be photographed for our feature so you’ll have to go along to the exhibition to see it.

Galashiels Studio Club annual exhibition will be staged in Old Gala House until June 3. It will be open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 4pm on Sunday. Admission is free.

Marion added: “It’s a very important milestone for the club and we hope as many people as possible come along to celebrate it with us.

“Our annual exhibition is something we all work towards and it gives us a real sense of purpose.

“We’ve created a brochure for this year’s event too as there are so many different elements to the show.”