This year our Annual Exhibition will be in the prestigious Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HU. The exhibition will be open to the public from Tuesday 16th April to Saturday 8th June 2024. Download an exhibition pack here for further details on hand-in and collection times. There are also links on how to submit both Open and Members entrants on-line.
Last summer, One Ren at last replied to our Lawyers letter dated (March 2021) asking for talks. It contained no date of any meeting nor any offer of a suitable place for our large exhibition in Paisley.
Instead it was a unaffordable proposal which required immediate action from us. We have been evicted from the galleries and now also put in the perverse position of having to ‘disperse’ what we cherish and have collected over the years.
We have to Pay to stay!! Without having a venue to raise any money through our exhibitions.
Other groups have been asked to work on projects, called ‘Stories’, some from Syria or New Zealand but the ‘bird in hand’, embedded in Paisley for 150 years, is still waiting to be included in this history.
A ‘Sma shot’ in the foot !
I don’t think anyone has realised the inevitable end result of One Ren selecting a brief without a municipal art gallery for its Scottish and international collections and no permanent contemporary art exhibition space.
We should be invited to our civic reception in 2026 after 150 years of passion for art and the sort of exhibition which draws input from all over UK. We are also rooted in Paisley, even by our constitution. We work for no remuneration, for the love of art and Paisley. We have never bothered anyone for funding. Open entry was brought in by Joe Hargan, making us modern and inclusive. All you need is enough talent to be accepted.
We are run by professional artists and by many art teacher members who help out. Paisley has also had it’s amateur group since 1901 and they rightly feel chuffed if they are accepted. They also hired the municipal asset, feeling proud to be in a real gallery. The annual Renfrewshire teacher’s exhibition was enjoyed and our annual Children’s competition caused much excitement.
The Scottish National drawing competition saw us provide couriers to each art school in Scotland. We brought up London galleries, from Stow and Richmond Hill and Eton, to name a few, to talent scout and give awards which launched careers.
It was because Paisley Institute was run by art lovers combined with having Art Galleries that a collection was born. Now over 100 years of collecting is at risk as they have stopped us in our charitable purposes with nearly 400 members left homeless in Paisley.
The museum has long coveted our 6 gallery space. This is not the 1st such crisis the Institute has weathered. Ignorance of the deed of gift from the Coats is no excuse. It was put about (falsely) that we had closed down in the 70’s. This meant we were no longer to have our free annual exhibition, and they intended to charge commission. When this was found to be untrue, the habit of saying we only use 2 galleries (instead of our 6) was council speak and this misinformation is continued today.
See ‘Paisley, the untold story’. Also we heard it said to us, ‘two galleries’, at our one and only hour long meeting with council staff (not Victoria Hollows as requested) in August 2023.
Joe Hargan was on committee 1985 and president from 1989 to 2000 by popular demand. We went from the days of a typed list catalogue to a full colour book. He, with John Kingsley and Robert Kelsey (all 3 successful professional artists) designed our logo and encouraged the museum to put up banners.
We had up to 900 visitors to our openings. The sales desk was busy, reminiscent of the January sales in 60’s department stores. The speeches and the VIP top table with our cherished provost, Nancy Allison, had the atmosphere of the last night of the proms. Artists daughters eagerly waited at the side with a bouquet of flowers for the honoured guest helping announce the lucky winners of the coveted awards.
Paisley Art Institute is the victim of unilateral decision making, and delay tactics, with selective (non) funding. Former president Jean Cameron was given £16,000 displacement funds to make 2019 show in the old Coop space a success. Last year, our request to help pay for our venue for the 134th was met with – ‘We are not in a position to give you any more‘ from Renfrewshire Council’s Public relations officer, whom One Ren’s, Victoria Hollows, suggested we meet with, when we had asked to meet with VH herself. The council officer had never been to our exhibitions in our own galleries, and if she had she would have seen 6 galleries full and never only two!
This year should see a turning point. We have waited since 2019 to be asked for our ‘story’ in the museum and a place to continue our charitable purchases in Paisley. The decision makers here don’t appreciate the importance of the collection we have built up and have not been to see the scale of our busy, popular, exhibitions.
What we do can’t pop up in a shop! We brought Hockney to Paisley, and Peter Blake, Robin Philipson, …..Alphonse Legros for goodness sake!
Look what he produced in a 1 hour demo!
Tributes are being paid to a ” truly exceptional soul ” who used his creativity to better the fortunes of vulnerable people at home and abroad.
Painter, potter, filmmaker Falconer Houston passed away recently aged 88.
Paisley Art Institute looks back!
Last year, saw us lose some of our most cherished helpers.
Pictured, we have John Byrne as he dropped by to help our membership secretary, Irene McCann, as a judge for the annual children’s competition. The winners enjoyed receiving awards from such a celebrity artist.
Most poignant, however, was the loss, too soon, of Catherine Harbon. She reminds us of the heyday for Paisley and it’s Institute. Poignant, as it marks the end of that era. At first she was a helpful volunteer at hanging our exhibitions, then came to work for the museum and Art galleries. She was the keeper of education and had a passion for art. Naturally, she also joined us as an artist member. Through this happy combination, she met and married Andy, who worked at the museum.
We also lost our past President, Helen Turner, who found time to help both Paisley and Maclaurin Galleries, in Ayr. She was a successful and skilled artist who worked as a carpet designer. She mastered the process from graph paper to pixels and her grand designs are in fine hotels world wide.
This illustrates Paisley’s major loss. The 3 months, where the artist run Institute put on the annual exhibition, were the highlight of the year and the Council employees loved it as we worked as a team.
We are so lucky to have our Lay Vice President, Eslyn Barr still representing that connection. Eslyn, a true Buddie, after working in London retired back to home in Paisley where she worked for the Museum and Observatory. She became a member of PAI and would oversee all the exhibitions for more than the last 20 years.
Because the PAI, led by Sir Peter Coats, had given the town galleries and an Institute to foster interest in visual arts, the town was able to treat our VIP member, John Byrne, to an exhibition for his 60th birthday. Inspired by the show, they went on to purchase some of John’s, which we will be able to enjoy in the museum.
Now, there is to be no such temporary exhibition space.
Recently you may have come across in the press and social media Paisley’s ONE REN, a charity extension of Renfrewshire Council,
excited about their 46- million-pound refurbishment of the Museum and Library and the secret collection. The museum has grown substantially by absorbing the original Library built in 1872 and the 6 art galleries built in 1882 and extended 1915. A new, state of the art, library is being created further along the High Street. Paisley Town hall and the Art centre are being refurbished for the performing arts. Tens of millions of pounds are being spent at the expense of the visual arts.
The big secret in Paisley is that the council /ONEREN have not been explicit with the public that there are major casualties in the reimagining project – firstly there will be no more art galleries and secondly this is the greatest existential threat to the Paisley Art Institute.
The Paisley Art Institute, whose members funded and built the art galleries, will not be able to put on their contemporary members’ exhibitions, their National Drawing competition and children’s art competitions. In 1915 a contract was formed to share these art galleries. The Institute has 3 months and, possibly more, use of these galleries for their exhibitions. The town council/ ONEREN, choose not to honour this legal contract, choose not to celebrate nearly 150 years of exhibiting in Paisley. The PAI is one of the 4 oldest art institutes in Scotland. The council should be offering a civil reception in 3 years’ time rather than instigating a serious existential threat to the Paisley Art Institute and the professional fine arts in the West of Scotland.
We commend any attempt to breathe new life into the town with a serious injection of money, but not to the insult of destroying a fine Art Institute which has given so much to the town over the years. The Institute created the art galleries to show off its fine art collection for the benefit of the people of Paisley, to educate and enrich their lives. The Institute was and is an active force in Paisley, its Exhibition being a prestigious annual event, bringing one of the highest footfalls to the Art Galleries/museum year in year out. We attracted a wide range of upcoming and professional talent producing new and exciting artworks.
We cannot do this when offered 75% less space than we need to maintain the scale of our art projects, as, so far, we have been relegated to the balcony, previously used for overspill of the children’s shows. Floor space for sculpture display is down by 80%.
Kirsty Devine, Project Manager of the museum project alarmingly stated, that “there will be no more temporary exhibitions”.
Also, there is talk of “galleries”, but do not be deceived into thinking there are art galleries. Some art works will likely be shown but in the context of past industrial and social history, not as Art.
Several of the most valuable works, they would like to show, belong to the Paisley Art Institute – a collection that is worth several millions and a body of work that has been revered as one of the best Scottish art collections in Scotland.
Why should the PAI allow these works to be shown to allow the council/ONEREN to enhance their ‘New Museum’, when they have treated the art community so disgracefully?
Ask the question – what can they be putting into our fine art galleries, which prevents us sharing our walls? This is a big secret; they refuse to talk about it.
The great families in Paisley, the Coats, the Clarks, the Fultons, and others have supported, generously, the Institute and the town over the past 150 years. Some are still here today continuing to give support but are they aware of the damage the ‘reimagining project’ is doing to the arts in Paisley and the west of Scotland?
This could result in the breakup of a fine art collection, one that has evolved through the beneficence of their forebears.
What happened to the town’s aspiration to become ‘City of Culture’ in 2017?
We have an Abbey, a Cathedral, and a university, criteria for city status. We also had a listed building, containing a library, museum, and art galleries. We lacked a tearoom. Now, we have a library, museum, and tearoom. Paisley now lacks our 6 art galleries, one of the largest art spaces in the west of Scotland for contemporary exhibitions. 150 years of hard work and love of art relegated to push button displays.
This museum-only project is aesthetic myopia by Renfrewshire Council/ONE REN and needs a serious ‘RETHINK and REIMAGINING’.
Picture 1. the narrow balcony offered when we had the galleries before.
Picture 2. opposite wall has the lift and the walk up to the tearoom
Picture 3, will we hang pics on the red glass, or boards in front. Would all the art look pink?
Picture 4. The large gallery and sculpture hall intended by Sir Peter Coats to be for our Annual exhibition. This is stated in his letter to the town and his will and agreed in the corporation minutes before the Institute bought the land for the 4 gallery extension completed in 1915.
Make time for this great exhibition, extended till 18th February!
Pavilion – KARL STERN – ART LOVER’S CAFE.
Art Lover’s Cafe open Monday-Sunday 10am-4pm.
Art Lover’s Cafe walls are adorned with Karl Stern’s exhibition of unusual artworks at the moment.
Karl is a painter and printmaker mainly capturing people and landscapes. He is based in Edinburgh but the work reflects his travels to various countries including Canada, France, Portugal, Iceland, Finland and of course Scotland.
Whilst he has included oil and acrylic works he’s best known for his painted collographic plates and prints which he has been making for over 10 years now.
He draws with a knife, cutting into card, paints with various pigments in shellac and finally uses the painting as a printing plate. The printing process finishes his paintings adding line and tone.
His beautiful prints are available to purchase from the Art Lover’s Shop.
+ 44 (0)141 483 1619 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Studio Pavilion, House for an Art Lover,
Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Road, Glasgow, G41 5BW
Congratulations to one of our long standing members for winning the Escoda Brushes Award at the prestigious RSW in Edinburgh! The title is – ‘The bird cage’.
Doreen Davis (Frew) is a true Buddy, who attended Paisley Grammar school, and lived in Oakshaw Street, where so many residents become involved in the Institute. Doreen loves colour and has the skill to achieve a glow in her works.
West of Scotland has now lost a six gallery, high street space in a listed building, open for 3 months a year to artists from all over the UK accepted into Paisley Art Institute, open annual Exhibition.
Meanwhile our permanent collection, some 400 items, has been in storage, since the 1980’s.The promised upturn has no space for temporary exhibitions, but is given over to digital push button displays. The 150 years old Paisley Art Institute has not yet been approached to tell our ‘story’ in the museum.
Having Art Galleries meant The people could use them. Poor ‘Paisley Artists’ now have only empty shop spaces. This will depend on constant funding and the strings this can bring.
PAI ran a prestigious annual Children’s competition and a Scottish Drawing Competition every other year. We would arrange couriers from every Art school to help the students. This had purchase prizes up to £1000 because we had a permanent collection to add to and to share with Paisley museum.
The Renfrewshire Art Teachers also used the galleries for yet another professional display. John Byrne is pictured, in happier days, down to help judge, and award prizes, at our children’s exhibition. Membership Secretary, Irene McCann, also pictured, is still working hard, together with a 16 strong committee to ensure the Institute will continue to thrive.
Exhibition review by Artmag contributor Gordon Reid on our recent 133rd Annual Exhibition which was held on 29th October – 3rd December 2022, at the Glasgow Art Club. You can read the full review here