Throughout its history, the Kirkcaldy Art Club has been a place of mutual support and shared enthusiasm. It has had lots of help from outside sources in money and in kind donations of time and materials, but the talent, hard work and resourcefulness of its members has been crucial to the club’s success and survival.
The Kirkcaldy Art Club was founded in October 1961 by five women: Miss Ross, Mrs Forrester, Mrs Hale, Mrs Johnston, and Mrs Stewart. The 33 club members initially met at the Kirkcaldy Museum Lecture Hall until other premises could be found. Activities included a conducted tour of the gallery and three talks by Mr Andrew Thorburn (Art Master at Kirkcaldy High School). Upon the advice from Mr Cassels of the Glenrothes Art Club, the founding members began in earnest advertising the activities of the club, raising funds to purchase materials and securing premises.
From its inception, the club has been renowned as a very social place. With funding from the Fife Education Committee, the club organised tuition for its members, for beginners and experienced artists alike. Classes were given in painting, oils and watercolours. Summer school sessions often included going outdoors for sketching and painting. Club members also organised outings to see artwork elsewhere, such as visits to Edinburgh Galleries.
In January 1962, the club moved to the Trades School in Institution Street (no longer in existence). Members helped to clean and prepare the premises and funds were raised to buy chairs and easels. The first painting class started on the 11th January 1962. It was tutored by Mr Lawson and ran for 10 weeks. 20 club members enrolled in the painting class. The members also undertook a range of fundraising activities including a Jumble Sale, a film night and a dance at the Burma, and sales of tablet and aprons.
When the Education Committee needed the Trades School in April, the club moved again to 126 High Street and began to run regular classes throughout the week: painting classes on Mondays and Thursdays, a Wednesday Youth Class, Tuesday and Friday club nights with talks, crits and other activities. A pottery class was also started, tutored by Mr Eric Crombie (a teacher at Balwearie High School), and an embroidery group met once a month. The upstairs rooms of the high street premises enabled the club to provide ‘studio time’ for members to work on their own without a tutor. The club continued to improve its stock of easels, chairs, materials and spotlights for still life and figure drawing.
The club held its first exhibition in the High Street premises from 26th May to 2nd June 1962. The paintings exhibited were selected by a committee consisting of three art teachers and four club members. An admission fee of one shilling was charged for entry and a catalogue. The exhibition was a success – 500 catalogues had been sold within the first five days of the exhibition. The club received a profit of £30.
The club’s first exhibition in the Kirkcaldy Art Gallery was held from the 6th to 18th January 1964. 30 paintings were accommodated in one room of the gallery and 855 visitors came to see them.
In June 1968, the club moved from 126 High Street to the old Ronaldson’s Works at 85a Dunnikier Road and remained tenants there until April 1972. Throughout this time the club carried on classes, lectures, crits, exhibitions, visits to galleries, social events and fundraising activities.
The club purchased its current premises, the Hot Pot Wynd Building, in October 1970. They made several alterations to the building to make it suitable for the club’s activities. These included opening a door directly onto Hot Pot Wynd, making the windows overlooking the monastery opaque, putting in skylights upstairs and installing a kitchen and toilets downstairs. Artist, David McLure officially opened the premises in April 1972.