Four decades after first exhibition, show is thriving

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Organisers of a village art exhibition say they have been staggered by the popularity of the event after it reached its 40th anniversary.

The Stoke-by-Nayland Art exhibition is held biennially at St Mary’s Church and raises money towards the upkeep of the building.

This year, the event took place over five days at the end of May and, thanks to the sale of countless paintings, collected more than £2,000.

Hilary Jacklin, a member of the exhibition’s organising committee, said: “We were delighted with how everything went.

“We must have had more than 200 pictures on show, from between 60 to 70 artists, as well as pieces by potters and wood turners.

“It was amazing and it is all due to the help we get. It is something people really look forward to.”

The first exhibition, in 1974, was organised by resident Douglas Gibb.

Mr Gibb was a landscape painter who exhibited in the area and at the Royal Watercolour Society Exhibition in London.

As a keen supporter of St Mary’s Church, he thought a sale of paintings would be the perfect way to showcase local talent, while raising vital funds towards the building’s maintenance.

For the first exhibition, Mr Gibb invited around 60 artists and the event ran, as it still does, over the May bank holiday.

“It is incredible to think it is still going,” said Mrs Jacklin. “Douglas Gibb’s daughter donated five of his pictures this year which we were able to sell.

“We must have had around 300 people through the door and it is a nice event for people to visit.”

Among the artists with work at the exhibition were Maggi Hambling, Cedric Morris and John Nash.

Paintings by pupils at Stoke-by-Nayland Primary School were also displayed in the church.