History of Art Group Nelson

In 1970, a group of aspiring artists held the first committee meeting of the newly formed Nelson Independent Art Group (NIAG). They had originally applied to join the Suter Art Society, but their artwork was deemed “inappropriate”. Proving that the right motivation leads to big things, they simply went ahead and formed the new group, which now has around 120 members.


Unlike the Suter Art Society, the NIAG decided that artists at all levels of ability could become members. The essential requirement was an interest in art and, of course, a small subscription. NIAG’s objective was, and still is, “to further the interest of art in the community and to create, for the individual artist, an opportunity to show their work, if they so desire”.


More advanced artists were happy to share their expertise, while those of lesser ability learned and advanced. Monthly meetings were held, at which guest speakers were invited to give talks or demonstrations. Workshops and exhibitions became regular events. Costs were kept at achievable levels, ensuring membership was available to any person, irrespective of their ability and artistic direction.


NIAG’s very first exhibition was held at the now defunct Chez Eelco, and by January 1973 had advanced to the stage where they were confident to hold what would become a Nelson institution – the annual Queens Gardens Exhibition. As well as an eye-catching variety of artwork, there is a great social atmosphere in the Gardens – for the artists as well as the public.


As newer members joined the Group, its name came into question. Members met to discuss a change. Besides being a bit of a mouthful, the name – Nelson Independent Art Group – had lost its historical significance. Members voted to change the name to Art Group Nelson. A suitable logo was chosen from a range of submitted designs.


The Nelson Art Group’s annual winter and summer exhibitions are now a popular feature on Nelson’s events calendar. Attendance is always high and it’s a great feeling for our members to see their artworks leaving an exhibition in the arms of proud new owners.

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