A Brief History

The origins of the Club go back to the 1890’s, although there appears to be some confusion about the exact date of its foundation. The Secretary’s report for 1910 states that the Club was founded in 1896 by Miss Rosa Watts (the retiring Secretary in 1910), along with two friends, Miss Lee and Miss Woodward. Other Club catalogues and membership cards give 1890 and 1892 as the date of foundation.

A review of the 1907 Exhibition in the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer refers to “the progress which the club has made during the last few years, especially since they changed the name”. It is possible that before 1907 the Club was known as “The Students Art Club”. The two earliest President of the Easy Sussex Art Club, Augustus J.C. Hare (1901-1903) and Darent Harrison (1903-1906) are both recorded as Presidents of the Students Arts Club (Hastings & St. Leonards Observer, January 31st 1903 and Hastings Weekly Mail, June 3rd 1905).

Before the First World War, Exhibitions were held in the Central Hall, Hastings. There appears to have been two Exhibitions held annually in May and November.

Early patrons of the Club included Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyle, and Sir Luke Fildes R.A. In 1919 the Exhibition was opened by Sir H. Rider Haggard.

In the 1920’s, Exhibitions were held at the Phoenix Hall, Castle Hill Road and, in 1932, members were invited to submit pictures for an Exhibition in the new Art Gallery at Hastings Museum. This arrangement continued annually until the refurbishment of the museum in the 1990’s. The Club records reveal that Exhibitions were also held at “St. Mary In The Castle”, “The De La Warr Pavilion”, “The Gallery” at the White Rock Theatre and “The Bourne Hall” in the Old Town, Hastings.