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Staithes Group

The Term ‘Staithes Group’ has evolved to describe a combination of artists working in the artists’ colony of Hinderwell-cum-Roxby and members of the Staithes Art Club. It covers roughly the period from the opening of the railway in the area in 1883 to the start of World War I.

The Parish of Hinderwell-cum-Roxby includes the villages of Hinderwell itself , Staithes and Runswick (pronounced with a silent ‘w’) and the moorland hamlet of Roxby, all on the North Yorkshire coast between Whitby and Saltburn.

The Staithes Art Club was formed in that village in 1901 where work was exhibited for sale in the Fishermens Institute, and then from 1904-1907 in Whitby.

Having dealt in, researched and collected works by Yorkshire Impressionist artists from the North East and Yorkshire coast for more than forty years, I’ve been aware of a strange anomaly. I have never, in all that time, discovered paintings of the artists’ colony itself by a number of generally recognised ‘Staithes Group’ artists.

Careful analysis of a number of various factors has led to a clear distinction between artists who exhibited with the Staithes Art Club in Staithes itself and those who joined it during its Whitby Years. As first a commercial art gallery and then a photographer’s premises hosted the exhibitions, and artists who were members of the Yorkshire Union of Artists were invited to join the Art Club and many of these had no connection with the artists’ colony itself.

However, nearly all the artists included in the Staithes Group as currently defined painted in an Impressionist style. Later many of them developed their style in different ways which make them unrecognisable as ‘Staithes Group’ paintings. During the period in question a significant number of the artists had returned to the area from studying in Paris, Antwerp or both. They brought back to Yorkshire the broad brush plein air techniques of French Impressionism, capturing the varying light of the coast and moors. Many of them included social realism in their work, drawing on their experience of living , not only alongside but often with, fisherfolk and farmers.

Both groups exhibited at major public galleries in Britain and often abroad and many of these galleries now have their work in their permanent collections.

I hope the above has given a broad over-view of the Group, and I hope it will shed some light on why my book on the subject is taking so long to write! It will, eventually, give the primary source details of the information above!