A East

Enthusiasm for painting lessons given in Kettering by Harry Stannard RBA in the 1880s, led to the first Art Exhibition in the Corn Exchange in 1896. By the third exhibition in 1898 the judging was by Alfred East and Thomas Cooper Gotch, Gotch himself exhibiting ‘Death of the Bride’, one of his best known paintings. First prize was won by Harry Dorr, a rising young Kettering artist, with George Harrison also taking a prize. The interest and encouragement of these artists resulted in the formation of Kettering and District Art Society in 1905, its first President being J Alfred Gotch, with Sir Alfred East and Thomas Cooper Gotch both as Vice Presidents.

After Alfred East was honoured with a Knighthood in 1910 and presented paintings to the town, the Society actively supported the decision to build the Art Gallery named after him.

Many well known local artists became members and added to the diversity of the exhibitions that were held in the Alfred East Gallery and other Kettering venues. Among founder members were Harry Dorr (1872-1950), George Harrison (1876-1950), Secretary from 1907-32, Frank Jowett (1879-1943), Chairman for several years, Walter Bonner Gash (1869-1928), and Dudley Brown (1893-1983). Among latter day members were Ralph Hartley (1926-1988), Nina Carrol (1932-1990), Harold Bywater, Richard Barnard, Graham West and Hubert Pack. All of these artists are represented in the Alfred East Art Gallery Permanent Collection.

A more complete history of the Society is available in the recently published 'Alfred East Gallery Permanent Collection Guide' available from ARTworks in the Newlands Centre, Kettering.