In the 1970s, the founding Trustees of McClelland Gallery introduced the concept of community studios in the Gallery grounds. It was a tentative beginning, but potters, painters, spinners and weavers settled into what shedding was then available, followed by lapidarians and wood turners whose energy and resourcefulness in erecting their own spacious studios filled the rest of us with envy.
In 1982 the painters moved into a new studio shared with the spinners and weavers, the interior space divided equally by central partitioning. For the artists, it was a time of starting additional painting classes, workshops and exhibitions. John Balmain, the master painter whose association as tutor and mentor to his McClelland students led to the formation of the Guild’s founding Committee, enlisted the help of additional tutors. Membership grew from its original fifty to five times that.
The McClelland Guild became an Incorporated Society in 1985. With the support of Sir William Dargie (five times Archibald Prize-winner) then Chairman of McClelland Gallery Board of Trustees, a grant from the Ministry for the Arts enabled the provision of the present Guild studio. The Official Opening, on 21st. February 1986, was a memorable evening of celebration.
Twenty-six years on, the pursuit of excellence in its teaching classes, general programme and range of creative activities to promote and stimulate the study of art in all its diversity remains the principal focus of successive McClelland Guild of Artists’ Inc. committees