Brushes and Biscuits is an artistic collective, most of whose members are part of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Art Society. This coming weekend the group hosts its first pop-up exhibition at 61 The Pantiles. Eileen Leahy caught up with the Society’s Lesley Stevens ahead of the show which takes place on October 15 and 16…
The Royal Tunbridge Wells Arts Society (RTWAS) has been going since 1934 and is the town’s longest established artistic movement.
Recently though it has spawned an additional sub-group – which boasts the charming moniker of Brushes and Biscuits. They have been meeting since September 2021 on a fortnightly basis and are now ready to put on their first official exhibition which takes place this coming weekend, October 15 and 16, at the RTWAS HQ at 61 The Pantiles.
“Some of the group are reasonably long-standing Art Society members, but the majority of the regulars are new members. People who are perhaps just starting, or maybe coming back to art after a long break,” explains Brushes and Biscuits spokesperson Lesley Stevens.
“The group is one of relaxed informality, where artists at any level can come along and undertake work of their choosing in the company of similarly minded people who enjoy creating and talking about art,” she continues.
Lesley goes on to say the type of work the group produces varies considerably. As well as landscapes and portraits, there are contemporary pieces too – all of which are executed in everything from pencil, watercolours and acrylics to oils and textile pictures.
“Brushes and Biscuits members’ work can include everything from black and white portraits using pencil and charcoal, to wildlife watercolours, abstract acrylics, classic oil portraits and seascapes. But equally important is the enthusiasm shown by members to take an interest in each other’s work, to learn from each other, to share ideas and to be encouraging,” adds Lesley.
Taking place this coming weekend, Lesley says that everyone is welcome to drop in to the exhibition. “We want people to feel they can come in, take a look, perhaps to buy a piece of work, or maybe to consider joining the group. A group member will be there to answer any questions and so new joiners are very welcome.”
RTWAS gained a number of new members during the various Covid lockdowns and this, Lesley says, was due to the society’s efforts on Instagram and Facebook in conjunction with Zoom projects.
“During this time we discovered people were picking up on a latent interest in art while working from home. As a result of a post-lockdown survey of members, the idea for an informal session on Monday afternoons was put forward. The name ‘Brushes and Biscuits’ was suggested by the two members who had the original idea.
“The newly established group would be open to RTWAS members – and non-members – and there would be no expectation of levels of skill or particular aptitude, just the opportunity for development as experimentation and some friendly input.”
Lesley says that a few people have ‘come and gone’ but the group is slowly growing in numbers. And that’s one of the reasons they decided to put on an exhibition.
“To hold a pop-up show adds another dimension to our individual work and the group’s dynamics. I don’t think any of the group have had much, if any, formal art training but are still producing an exhibition that could be described as wonderfully eclectic. Two of us will be in the gallery all weekend to talk to anybody who might be interested in joining us.”
To find out more about the exhibition and the RTWAS visit: rtwas.org