Sabeema Arts Club

Photo:The Sabeema sketching club on their way to Fontainbleu, France, 1959

The Sabeema sketching club on their way to Fontainbleu, France, 1959

1933- present

By Jonathan Blatchford

Sufficient numbers for an arts club

In the Gazette of 25th November 1933, a letter was printed from one AH Wilenski. He stated

Sir – My attention has been drawn to some paintings by a member of the Partnership. It occurs to me that there may be other Partners who have the habit of drawing and painting in their leisure time, and there might be a sufficient number of such Partners to form a Partnership Art Club.

Oldest club of the Partnership

Wilenski goes on to state how the Art Club could work, describing annual exhibitions, and occasional special meetings in which artists or critics are invited to discuss their work. Furthermore, Wilenski provides a number of persuasive reasons for the art club, including that it might act as a

‘pleasant means of contact between Partners in the London Houses and those in the Provincial Branches’.

These wholly convincing arguments were the reason for the creation of the club by Spedan Lewis in 1933, and are one reason why the club is still going to this day. It is the oldest club in the John Lewis Partnership.

Sabeema

Sabeema Arts club, named in honour of Spedan Lewis’ wife, Sarah Beatrice Mary, has for 81 years given Partners and retired Partners the opportunity to develop their talents and creativity through annual events and exhibitions and visits to art galleries.

Unchanged formula

The club has for several years held an annual workshop at Brownsea Castle that has allowed all who go to develop their skills and interests. A yearly exhibition of Partners work also occurs. Both events show how true today’s Sabeema Art Club has stayed to the original idea, and the longevity of the club in its unchanged formula indicate how successful and popular it has been over the years.

This page was added by Jonathan Blatchford on 03/09/2014.
Comments about this page

The lady in the plaid coat at the centre of the group is my mother Katie Ford (Central Buying, Gloves) who organised the trip to Fontainebleau and was Secretary of the Sabeema Art Club until her retirement in 1972. Art tutor at the time was T W Ward, followed by Ken Howard, now Royal Academician. I have much more information about the early days of Sabeema.

By Tony Ford
On 25/02/2016

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