The Woodend Art Group aims to advance the arts and crafts practised by its members and stimulate the interest of the community in the arts and crafts.

This is done in several ways.

  • Painting Classes in oils, acrylic, watercolour, encaustic and print making..
  • Drawing Classes.
  • Classes catering for beginners and experienced artists.
  • Children's Folio Club - After School Classes.
  • Weekend Workshops for both members and non members.
  • Life Drawing and Painting Group meets monthly.
  • Tuesday morning social groups.
  • Excursions, Weekend Painting Trips and Gallery Visits.
  • Quarterly Newsletter to Members.
  • Reference Library.
  • Public Exhibitions.

A Short History

The Woodend Art Group started as The Woodend Art Appreciation Group in the early 1970’s with local, well-known artist Mal Gilmour as President and Emmie Cranney, now Emmie King as Secretary. Initially the group was located in the Woodend Court House in Forest Street where members could paint and take instruction from Mr. Gilmour.

In 1977 Mal Gilmour left the district and with the group in danger of disbanding, a public meeting was held and it was decided to attempt a revival. Adult classes were commenced by professional Mt Macedon teacher and painter Gita Filner, a member of the Victorian Artists’ Society and the Seven Painters. This Melbourne exhibiting group included Angela Abbott, Maxwell Wilkes, David Moore and Hillary Jackman and was sponsored by Alan Martin, Gita’s teacher, an Eltham tonal painter who had been trained by Max Meldrum. By 1978 the group had grown and although the painting class numbers were restricted to 15 due to a lack of space in the courthouse, membership was at 58 as well as 20 junior members. Eileen Muir, a founding member, taught children’s classes. The President at this time was Emmie Cranney.

It was around this time that the group was renamed the Woodend Art Group.

Space restrictions were eased when the group moved in 1982 to its present location at the historic Woodend Railway Station. The symbol of the group was designed at this time, showing its connection with the station. Initially W.A.G. occupied part of the refreshment rooms and oil painting classes were taught by another Alan Martin student, Wes Thorne as well as Eileen Muir, who was a long time member. She had had tuition from Ms Shirley Bourne OAM, a realist painter and teacher at the Victorian Artists’ Society. In mid 1982 Wes Thorne travelled to China and his class was taken temporarily by Don James, also a Shirley Bourne student who had met Eileen Muir and Emmie Cranney in the mid 1970’s in Shirley Bourne’s classes. On Wes’s return, Don was asked to take a Saturday class and continued teaching at Woodend until 2012 when he retired to teach solely at Montsalvat art colony at Eltham.

In those 30 years the group expanded its activities having a number of teachers holding both regular classes and workshops in a number of artistic disciplines. It continues to do so today as a glance at its website will show. They have also expanded into the balance of the railway station’s refreshment rooms allowing two large studios as well as a kitchen and a meeting room.

The second studio now houses a print workshop, with the acquisition of a printing press and under the instruction and supervision of Marysia Jarosinska, a well-known local artist and printer.

As the group grows it has not forgotten its roots and continues to hold classes and workshops in many artistic disciplines, as well as plein air painting, life drawing and portrait painting groups.

Words by Don James