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Post: Keighley Art Club Centenary Celebration: Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ Art Collection

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Keighley Art Club Centenary Celebration: Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ Art Collection

In 2023, Dr Lauren Padgett, Assistant Curator of Collections, worked closely with Keighley Art Club to co-curate a temporary exhibition celebrating the Club’s history, spanning over 100 years. The Centenary Celebration was launched in September 2023 and runs until Sunday 14 January 2024.

Lowri Jones, Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ Curator of Collections, says,

This collaborative exhibition with Keighley Art Club has a given us a really exciting opportunity to explore Bradford Museums’ art collection for connections to the Club and to Keighley, as well as the chance to display artworks that are usually in storage.

On display are artworks by current Club members, artworks by past Club members that have kindly been lent by private owners, and artworks by past Club members that are now part of Bradford Museums’ art collection. As well as the display on the balcony at Cliffe Castle Museum, there is a site-wide trail which pinpoints artwork linked to past Club members on permanent display around the rest of the Museum. The trail signposts visitors to Keighley Town Centre where you can see further examples of artworks by past and present Club members, such as murals in public buildings and carved stonework of buildings. A family-friendly trail with visual clues covering the ground floor was created for smaller visitors.

This blog will highlight some of the artists linked to Keighley Art Club. From painters to photographers to sculptors, their artwork features in Bradford Museums’ art collection and can be seen on display around Cliffe Castle Museum. 


Annie Hugill (1870 – 1945)

Annie Hugill was born in Keighley and studied art at Keighley School of Art, where she later became a pupil-teacher before teaching art at Keighley Girls’ Grammar School. An active member of Keighley Art Club, she preferred to paint Yorkshire landscapes in watercolours and created plaster sculptures. After she died, provided for by a bequest in her will and money from her estate, the Royal Academy set up the ‘Annie Hugill Bequest Fund’ which funds the purchase of artwork for public art galleries. On display in Keighley Art Club’s Centenary Celebration exhibition is Hugill’s watercolour Place Verte, Montreine.

Annie Hugill, watercolour of Place Verte.
Annie Hugill, Place Verte, Montreine, watercolour, 87:1971.8. In Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ collection.

Edwin Riby (1866 – 1927)

Edwin Riby was born in Scarborough and served an apprenticeship with a fine art dealer before moving to Keighley in 1888. He set up his own picture framing shop in 1893 which moved to premises in Lawkholme Crescent, off Cavendish Street, in 1896. Riby sold art supplies, moulds and mounts; and cleaned and restored old paintings. His gallery above the shop hosted exhibitions; local artist Joseph West exhibited there for many years. An artist himself, Riby’s series of watercolours of old Keighley became popular prints. Riby was an active member and Chair of Keighley Art Club. In his later years, he taught art classes. On display in the Keighley Art Club’s Centenary Celebration exhibition and as part of the trail are watercolours by Riby from Bradford’s collection.


Alexander Keighley (1861 – 1947)

Alexander Keighley worked for his father’s textile business; his father was a wealthy industrialist. He became director of his family’s firm, but he wanted to be an artist and took a shine to photography. Keighley believed that photography should be a medium in its own right. A founder-member of the Linked Ring, a British photographic society that promoted photography as a science and art, his work was widely acclaimed. Keighley was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 1911. Keighley Art Club exhibition catalogues from 1922 and 1929 list him as one of the Club’s Vice-Presidents. Keighley was painted by portrait artist Frederick Stead; the portrait is on display at Cliffe Castle Museum. Bradford Museums’ collection also holds examples of Keighley’s photographs, showing local views of beauty spots to international locations.

image 24
Frederick ‘Fred’ Stead, Alexander Keighley, oil, 52:1971.3. In Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ collection.

Doris Ada Riley (1901 – 1993)

Doris Ada Riley lived at Cross Roads near Keighley and studied art at Keighley’s and Bradford’s Technical Colleges, as well as Joseph West’s Silsden studio. She taught at Keighley Technical College and schools in Shipley, Skipton and Leeds, and pursued painting as a passionate hobby. Riley favoured watercolours and gouache scenes, particularly of East Riddlesden Hall. An active member of both Bradford and Keighley Art Clubs, she exhibited in group and solo exhibitions, and won prizes. Riley kindly donated a large amount of artwork to Bradford Museums in 1976; a small selection is on display in the Club’s Centenary Celebration exhibition.


Alexander F. Smith (1863 – 1953)

Alexander ‘Alex’ F. Smith started working at Keighley School of Art as a sculpture and carving tutor in 1889. He was a member of Keighley Art Club and a Club exhibition catalogue from 1929 lists Smith as a Club Committee member. Smith painted murals depicting literary scenes in Keighley Library in 1929 and 1948. Current Keighley Art Club member Christina Helliwell’s photographs of the murals are displayed in the Centenary exhibition. In Bradford Museums’ art collection and on display at Cliffe Castle Museum are his alabaster sculpture The Bather and his wood sculpture The Refugees, which depicts the arrival of Belgian refugees to Keighley in 1916.

Smith was also known for his architectural stonework carvings on public buildings across the District. As part Keighley Art Club’s Centenary Celebration trail around Cliffe Castle Museum visitors are directed to the Bracewell Smith Hall to see photographs of Smith and his team of sculptors working on the stonework carvings on the façade of North Street Arcade, Keighley. Helliwell’s photographs of the building’s carvings are displayed in the Club’s Centenary exhibition. On display in the Conservatory and included in the trail are stone carvings from The Queen’s Theatre, Keighley, depicting various musical instruments. They were commissioned when the theatre was rebuilt in 1900. The theatre, then called the Hippodrome, closed in 1956 and was demolished in 1961.


Joseph Pighills (1901 – 1984)

Joseph ‘Joe’ Pighills was born in Oxenhope, near Keighley, and trained as an apprentice pattern maker (someone who makes moulds of objects to be cast in metal) after leaving school. With a passion for art, he attended Keighley School of Art’s evening classes. As a member of both Keighley Art Club and Bradford Art Club, he exhibited locally. Pighills was invited to have an exhibition at Cliffe Castle Museum in 1961. After retiring, he focussed on his art, mostly watercolours and Yorkshire landscapes. He had solo exhibitions nationally. Cartwright Hall Art Gallery held a commemorative exhibition in 1985 after his death. A few examples of his paintings are featured in the Club’s Centenary exhibition and trail.

image 29
Joseph Pighills, Chapel Lane, Oakworth, watercolour, 35:1971. In Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ collection.

Frances Watson Sunderland (1866 – 1949)

Born in Keighley, Frances Watson Sunderland studied at Keighley School of Art where she later worked as a teacher. Sunderland was an active member of Keighley Art Club. Sunderland was a prolific watercolour painter and a regular sight locally, doing observational plein-air sketching and painting of Keighley buildings and streets. Keighley Art Club exhibited ninety of Sunderland’s watercolours in 1949. Many of her watercolours are in Bradford Museums’ art collection. These are important visual records of early-20th-century Keighley as these areas have since been demolished or redeveloped. Several examples of Sunderland’s watercolours are on display as part of Keighley Art Club’s Centenary Celebration exhibition. More can be seen on the Club’s Centenary trail around Cliffe Castle Museum in the ‘Keighley Stories’ gallery.


Joseph West (1881 – 1958)

Joseph West was born in Farnhill near Skipton and later lived in Silsden. West had trained and set up a business as a house painter. In 1919, West set out to be a professional artist, buying a studio in Cavendish Street, Keighley, and later another in Silsden. West specialised in watercolours of the Yorkshire Dales and the coast, and animal subjects. West exhibited nationally with galleries and museums commissioning and acquiring his artwork for their collections. Keighley Art Club exhibition catalogues from 1922 and 1929 list him as a Club Committee member. In 1939, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art. Examples of West’s paintings are highlighted in Keighley Art Club’s Centenary trail.

image 34
Joseph West, George Dixon’s Smallholding, Summer, watercolour, H.2010/1.3. In Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ collection.

May Tremel (1882 – 1963)

May Tremel, an etcher and sculptor, was born in Bradford and lived in Manningham. She studied engraving and printmaking at Goldsmith’s College then the Royal College of Art. Her artwork focused on etchings of rural and urban scenes while her sculptures were portrait busts. Tremel’s artwork was exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally, and at the Royal Academy from the early 1900s to the 1930s. Tremel retained local links through her membership to Keighley Art Club and the Society of Yorkshire Artists. Her print Lower Mall, Hammersmith in our art collection is on display in the Club’s Centenary exhibition.

image 35
May Tremel, Lower Mall, Hammersmith, etching, 87:1971.111. In Bradford District Museums and Galleries’ collection.

Thomas Clifton Butterfield (1856 – 1937)

Thomas ‘Tom’ Clifton Butterfield was born in Keighley and showed a talent for drawing at a young age. Butterfield joined evening art classes at Keighley’s Mechanics Institute. A gardener by profession, Butterfield pursued art at Keighley’s Mechanics Institute, gaining prizes and an Art Master’s Certificate. Butterfield became Assistant Art Teacher at Keighley School of Art in 1881 and aged 33 became its Head from 1889 until 1919, introducing new subjects, like bookbinding and carving. Away from the School, Butterfield continued painting, favouring watercolour landscapes, even in his later years as his eyesight deteriorated. Keighley Art Club exhibition catalogues from 1922 and 1929 lists him as one of the Club’s Vice Presidents. On display as part of the Club’s Centenary Celebration is Butterfield’s painting Moorland Scene. The accompanying trail directs visitors to more of Butterfield’s paintings on permanent display around Cliffe Castle Museum.


Lauren says,

It was a pleasure working with Keighley Art Club on this exhibition to bring together current Club members’ artwork with artwork by past Club members in our art collection. It wasn’t until we started researching past Club members and cross-referencing them with Bradford Museums’ art collection that we realised the extent of the artwork by past Club members in our art collection and already on permanent display around Cliffe Castle Museum.

Catch the exhibition and trail while you can until Sunday 14 January 2024. More details can be found here.

A digital copy of the trail is available to be downloaded here.