Stirling Fine Arts Society celebrates 25 years and a growing membership

Stirling DEcorative and Fine Arts lectures attract up to 180 people
Stirling DEcorative and Fine Arts lectures attract up to 180 people

An organisation dedicated to promoting and enjoying the arts is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Stirling Decorative and Fine Arts Society formed in 1989 and is a local branch of the National Decorative and Fine Arts Society - a UK wide network with 250 groups, including 13 in Scotland.

There is a great social element to the society, from your first visit you’re made to feel very welcome

Ros Mitchell

The society celebrates and enjoys all types of art, with monthly lectures from experts in various fields and it organises trips to places of interest both locally and further afield.

To mark the milestone, Stirling Decorative and Fine Arts Society will hold a special celebratory lecture with celebrity auctioneer Anita Manning.

Chairman Gordon Clark joined the society in 2009 and says the variety of lectures appealed to him.

Gordon, from Stirling, said: “My background is in education and although I’ve not worked in the arts I’ve always had an interest.

“The lecture topics are incredibly diverse and are delivered by experts in their fields. We listen to members and make sure the things they would like to hear about are covered.”

The society now boasts a membership of 300, with the lectures held at The Albert Hall in Stirling on the third Thursday of the month attracting 150-180 people.

The lectures cover a broad range of art subjects. The February lecture was about Chinese textiles from the Qing Dynasty and the March one is to be about Danish royal castles. Topics from architecture to paintings and fashion are covered by speakers from all over the world, who come recommended from the national society.

While most of its members are from Stirling, the society is hoping to increase membership from Falkirk and nearby areas.

Jennifer Barrett is a retired lecturer from Grangemouth and the former membership secretary. She said the next nearest branch of the society is in Edinburgh and it has a three-year waiting list for places.

Jennifer joined the society eight years ago after spotting an advert in the Falkirk Herald.

She said: “Membership costs £40 a year and that allows entry to 10 lectures. It is great value.

“Sometimes I’ll think, I don’t really fancy a particular lecture but go along anyway and it turns out to be very interesting.

“Over the years my knowledge of the arts has expanded immensely and lectures have inspired me to visit places I’d never have thought about. For example, a lecturer told us about an amber museum in Gdansk in Poland which inspired me to visit. I’ve also been to many fascinating places on the organised trips.”

The society organises an annual visit, either in the UK or Europe, taking in museums and galleries and members can take part in study days, focusing on topics of interest to expand their knowledge.

They also run workshops to help students with their art portfolios and support volunteer projects including work to preserve the local heritage and promote art to youngsters.

Ros Michell is a retired learning support teacher from Falkirk,

She said: “The standard of lecture is always excellent, even if a subject isn’t your cup of tea, they are always well delivered and the society has moved with the times to use Powerpoint presentations so they are well illustrated too.

“I’ve been a member for 10 years and I would struggle to pick a favourite lecture There is also a great social element to the society, from your first visit you’re made to feel very welcome.”

For more information on Stirling Decorative and Fine Arts Society, visit its website at or go along to the next meeting at The Albert Hall on Thursday, March 19. The lecture on Danish royal castles is being delivered by Hanne Sutcliffe and starts at 11 a.m.

New members are asked to go along 30 minutes early to register and guests can come along, for a small fee payable on the day.

The Anita Manning event to celebrate Stirling Decorative and Fine Arts Society’s 25th anniversary will be on Thursday, May 7, at The Golden Lion Hotel in Stirling and will include a Champagne afternoon tea. Artwork donated by members will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to charity.