FOR more than 40 years, Ilfracombe Art & Craft Society has been showcasing home-grown North Devon talent between April and December. This weekend it will open its doors to the 2014 season.
Based at Emmanuel Church on Wilder Road, the group will open the gallery on Sunday, April 6 and, along with a refurbishment of the premises, will welcome the addition of new artists and craftsmen to its ranks.
On display will be paintings, sculptures, pottery, stained glass, jewellery and various crafts by local artists, plus forged ironwork, handmade cards and even musical instruments.
And what's more, part of the profits made by sales will be donated to local charities.
Sally Kelly, who volunteers for the group, said: "We may not exhibit work from artists based elsewhere in the country, but there is more than enough talent here in North Devon.
"There's such a variety to see – from paintings of local landscapes to the more abstract, and unusual items such as animals made of glass and humorous caricatures. There is something for everyone."
Since forming in the late Sixties, Ilfracombe Art & Craft Society has existed both to promote local art and support North Devon charities – raising almost £100,000 over the years.
The group's founder, artist author Walter Elliot, is still the society's president. Over the years he and fellow members have seen the group's base move on a number of occasions, but Sally believes it now enjoys a happy home at Emmanuel Church.
"After the refurbishment the gallery looks brighter than ever," she said, "and we've got some great new art and craft to fill the space.
"But we still have the core artists we've had for years, and together we keep the place running voluntarily. It's open seven days a week but we manage as a team."
Throughout the year, the society also offers the chance for visitors to enter a prize draw – the trophy being a piece of art or craft from the gallery. The winner will be announced at the end of November.
Although the gallery is open until December each year, it has been known to offer its space to different groups throughout the quiet November period.
In 2013, Ilfracombe Academy students exhibited their work in the building, and the society hopes to continue to assist local bodies when they can.
"Ilfracombe Art & Craft Society is a non-subsidised group and we're all volunteers," said Sally, "but we love what we do and want to carry on with our work.
"But we couldn't carry on without the interest of our community, so I urge the people of North Devon to make the most of what's on offer at the gallery. It's a great day out, so enjoy it."
Ilfracombe Art & Craft Society is open at Emmanuel Church, Wilder Road, Ilfracombe seven days a week. Opening hours: 10am to 5pm, 6.30 to 9.30pm.