The year was 1944. England was in the throes of war with no end in sight. Charles Holmes, a well known local artist, pupil of Adolph Valette and contemporary of L S Lowry, decided that he would try to bring the “comfort of beauty to. the dark days”. He contacted fellow artists and suggested that they should meet for painting sessions and so Sale Arts Society began.


Charles Holmes as a young man, painted by  Adolf Valette

Sadly the day of the first meeting proved to be tragic. Charles Holmes and his wife were informed that their son had been killed on active service. To this day the Society lays a wreath on Memorial Day in his memory. Despite their great loss Mr and Mrs Holmes went ahead with the meetings and the Society began to grow. In the beginning the artists met for outdoor sketching or in their homes but as the Society began to attract more members they found accommodation in the old North Western Electricity depot adjacent to the Town Hall. They shared the building with St John’s Ambulance garaged downstairs and their neighbour, across the landing, Sale Brass Band.

This became their studio for many years until in 1999 plans for the Waterside Art Centre meant that the building had to be demolished. A new space had to be found and after some searching the Society moved into the Brook’s Institute. A year later the building was closed due to costly repairs being necessary and it was eventually sold. Once again Sale Arts Society was homeless until, fortunately, suitable accommodation was found at St Martin’s Hall which also provides a lovely venue for the Annual Exhibitions.

Many well known local artist have been members over the years. Mr and Mrs Norman Jacques, both local artists, were founder members of the Society and Norman Jacques remained a member until recently when he left the area to live near his son. In 1945 L.S. Lowry attended an exhibition and congratulated all the members on the high standard they had achieved. Mrs Margaret Priestner, daughter of Mr Charles Holmes, remained a good friend of the Society until her death in 2014.

The President Barbara van Zanten (Chairman 1991-2014) and the Committees have tried over the years to keep the Society as Charles Holmes intended – a place to stimulate local artistic talent. New members are very welcome. Some artistic training is necessary as there is no tutoring. Mutual encouragement, hints and tips are freely given if required.


Mr Ian Priestner – grandson of our founder – with our President Barbara van Zanten. Ian Priestner opened our 70th annual exhibition of paintings which also featured paintings by Charles Holmes

If you love to paint and draw and would enjoy the company of other artists you are very welcome.

For further details regarding the Society and paintings please contact our Chariman Juliet Young:

Phone: 0161 962 2531
Email: juliety@hotmail.co.uk

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