The idea for an Art Exhibition in Milnthorpe was first proposed by the late Ken Last early in 1990. He suggested it would be a good way to raised money for the Church Restoration Fund, as well as other local charities and good causes.
The first exhibition was held in August that year and since then has become a much anticipated annual event. From humble beginnings we believe it is now the 'Largest Open Art Exhibition in the North West'.
Our first exhibition comprised of only 30 paintings and 27 photos, most of which weren't for sale. However, with initial costs met by Sponsors and Patrons and income from catalogues, catering and a raffle, the Exhibition was able to donate £650 to both St Thomas' Church and the Lorna Brooksbank appeal in support of a local family.
Things quickly developed and in 1994, 424 paintings and 27 sculptures were displayed - unfortunately there was no longer any room for photographs. By this time we were also selling exhibits, the number of which continued to grow. (We take a commission, which goes into our pot of money to be divided amongst our chosen charities and good causes). We now have approximately 500 exhibits on display each year, with around one third being sold.
Since the exhibition started we have developed a very positive relationship with Dallam School. In the early years it involved an open invitation for students to submit exhibits. Then a separate exhibition of pupils work was held concurrently within the school. These days the school selects one painting from Year 11 and Year 13 students, which we exhibit.