Without doubt Brendan’s knowledge of the art and Artists of Wolverhampton is second to none.

The presentation began with a whistle stop tour of the history of the Society encompassing the background story where young artistic talent emerged from a background of the industrial heritage of Wolverhampton.

By 1884 Wolverhampton had its own municipal Art Gallery and by 1885 the Museum and Art Gallery were connected to the Wolverhampton College of Art. Wolverhampton soon became a focal point for cultural activity and the New Art Circle was subsequently founded in 1919.  Brendan gave the following full text of a statement of the “aims” provided in the Minutes for the first meeting of the New Art Circle: –

” For its members to compare and criticise each other’s work and render such advice and help on technical and artist matters as lies in their power. Its object shall be the encouragement of the production of original works of Art in any medium.

We have nothing to do with “art” as applied to the new dandyism which is expressed by futurist waistcoats, evening suits and flowing capes strongly reminding one of a brigand on the rampage for profitable hostages. But to say this is not to shut our eyes to the interest that lies in some of the new movements or crazes, if you like. It is felt that the Circle should seek information on these and by so doing hope to separate the wheat from the chaff. The first aim of the Circle is to stimulate self-expression.”

So as a Society today we continue to work together as a community of artists giving each other advice and encouraging development as we progress along our journey through art.

In the photo above Brendan is pictured with an oil painting entitled ‘Evening in the Black Country’ by Edwin Butler Bayliss (1874 – 1950) a member who painted atmospheric landscapes of Wolverhampton, the Black Country and its surroundings.

So many eminent artists were mentioned, which I have listed below if you would like to check them out further:

Edward Bird, Joseph Barney, George Wallis, Oscar Gustav Rejlander, Sidney Cartwright, Sarah Page, Laurence Hodson, John Masefield, John Fullwood, Vickers De Ville, George Phoenix, James Gale, HJ Whittick, EH Griffin, Edwin Butler Bayliss, R Emerson, Albert Poutney, Florence Whittle, Alfred Egerton Cooper, Bernard Fleetwood-Walker, Percy Shakespeare, Sir Charles Wheeler, Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones, Rose Gwynneth  Cobdon-Holt, Geoffrey Dudley, A Twentyman. What a list!

Brendan is currently working on our Centenary Book 1919 -2019, together with our President Keith which has been financed by Heritage Lottery Funding.  This publication will cover the history of the Society including information on the art scene at the time of its formation along with details relating to our better known alumni. The publication will conclude with where we are now and provide a forward looking view of the WSA.

The book is intended to be a tribute to all the past members of WSA for distribution to the wider Wolverhampton community.  Something in which we can take pride in and which will be a tangible addition to the Wolverhampton Archives.  Watch this space for the date of publication.

Our sincere thanks to Brendan for all his support, depth of prior knowledge and the information he has been able to provide and finally for delivering a wonderful and inspiring presentation to start off our Centenary celebrations.

Brendan with Keith Oram – President and Carol Widenbar – Chair of the Wolverhampton Society of Artists.