“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

Monday Painters was formly known as The Civil Service Art Club

Great oaks from little acorns grow. A little acorn was planted in June 1957 when Reg Browne and Rosemary Williamson (then Dowling) met at a Civil Service Conference in Portrush. Both were working on a report of the Conference for the Civil Service ‘Staff’ magazine. Reg was a talented cartoonist and was illustrating Rosemary’s script. They had not met before but discovered a mutual interest in Art. They decided to find out if there was a Civil Service Art Club in existence. The matter was pursued through the Staff Magazine.
On 3rd September 1957 an exploratory meeting was held in the Piccolo restaurant in Wellington Street, Belfast. Ten people attended the meeting. In rather formal style they were listed as Mr. Reg Browne, Miss Rosemary (then) Dowling, Miss Anne Reid, Miss Margaret Williams. Miss Meta Scott, Mr. George Downey, Miss Aileen McClean, Miss Olive Henry, Miss Monica Clifford and Miss Gertrude Loughridge.
It was decided to go ahead with the project and the inaugural meeting was held on Thursday 17th September. There was an attendance of nine enthusiastic people. Reg Browne was appointed as the first Chairman and Rosemary Williamson (nee Dowling) as first Secretary. Miss A. McClean was the first Treasurer.
George Clarke, who was to be so important to the club over the years, joined us for an important meeting on 1st October. Another meeting was held on 28th October at which the Rules and Constitution were drawn up. It was agreed that Non-Civil Servants could become associate members. The yearly subscription was set at ten shillings!
Negotiations with the Civil Service Council for Further Education allowed use of their premises in Waring Street. This was to be the first of many venues which included Isabeal’s Café, the Grand Opera Society’s rehearsal rooms at 39 High Street, Lisburn Road Methodist Church Hall and Deramore School. Over the years meetings were often held in members’ houses.
The workers’ Educational Authority supplied the first lecturer who was a Mr. Baxter, and meetings were held originally every fortnight. The Imperial Civil service was invited to join. This elicited a response from our very own Roy Irvine who, at the time of writing is still a loyal member of the club. Roy has been Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman, and finally elected President.
It is interesting to note that among our early members were the late Anne Gregg the TV presenter and the late Olive Henry Who was a well known distinguished artist at that time. The handful of original members grew to thirty in a year or so. Talents were varied and there was great enthusiasm. Essentially a practical working group was formed.
Much use was made of visits with demonstrations by professional artists. One of the most notable was the late Maurice Wilks.
The George VI Memorial Hall in May Street was a favourite venue for our annual exhibitions. There was a varied array of landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still life and many other styles. Members’ work has also been on display at Anderson and McAuley’s the staff restaurant at the Law Courts and at Stormont. At the oncoming of spring each year members sketched and painted out doors both in the city and the suburbs. Within a couple of years of the club starting we were very lucky to have George C. Morrison, RUSA as a long term member. His demonstrations, advice and wealth of experience ensured encouragement to the club until his sad, sudden death in 1993.
Special mention needs to be made of one long-term secretary - George Clarke. He was meticulous in keeping the club going during the period of civil unrest. Various city centre venues had to change and the club met at different locations in the city suburbs. There were now other members as well as Civil Servants in the group and the name change was considered in 1978. As ‘Sunday Painters@ is a well known term for amateurs and the Club always met on a Monday it was decided that Monday Painters would be appropriate. The membership had grown to approximately fifty and remains around that figure today.
George Morrison introduced the idea of holding a criticism night and this (roughly monthly) event has always proved popular. Pictures are displayed on an easel and comments invited from members. This is very helpful as we were able to learn from George and each other. George co-ordinated the evenings’s activities.
In more recent years the coordinator has been previous Secretary and Chairman Arnold Gardiner. All this helps in preparing for the Annual Exhibition where a proportion of money from sales is given to a chosen local charity. Members are always proud of the quality of work shown to the public.
This is a friendly and practical group and its existence for fifty eight years with members providing much commendable work is a great achievement. For a number of years Monday Painters met at Ballyhackamore Library in Belfast encouraging the practice of art as a hobby giving pleasure and relaxation.
For the past number of years Monday Painters have met at Ashfield Girls School making good use of their dedicated new Art Department.
The club has always prided itself in catering for a wide variety of artistic ability and talent. Members are also encouraged to realise their own individual style and potential.

Monday Painters Arts Club - Rose Bowl

2114 Pauline Harding
2013 Deirdre Burns
2012 Pat McLaughlin

Monday Painters Arts Club - George Morrison Trophy

2014 Betty Jackson / Victor Simpson
2013 Victor Simpson
2012 Billy Hume
2011
2010 Les Sharpe
2009 Joan Kenning
2008 Catherine McCullough
2007 Pat Callagahan
2006 Joyce Drennan
2005
2004 Arnold Gardiner / Alan Beers
2003 Billy Hume
2002 Arnold Gardiner
2001 Oonagh Catchpole
2000 Irene Stevenson
1999 Pat Burgess
1998 William McCarroll
1997
1996 Brian Johnson
1995 Billy Hume
1994 Mattie Waugh
1993 Billy Hume
1992 Maisie Kennedy
1991 Joan Murry
1990 George Morrison
1989 R.T. Killen
1988 Sandra Maze
1987 Edna Murry