The clubs founder Wally Pharo, originally from South East London, after serving in France in the First World War and working in the Foreign Office for 35 years, at the age of 62 he retired and decided to start up an Art Club in the West Wickham area, after obtaining certificates required to teach art and with the help of the local Bromley press.
A hall was booked for the first meeting to discuss the idea of an Art Club, the hall being Talbot House, Toc H Headquarters in Ravenswood Avenue and much to their surprise 45 people turned up and the idea of an Art Club was met with enthusiastic ideas. Innot Barnes was the first Chairman of the Club and by the end of the year there were 63 members and the first exhibition of work was held at the Toc H hall. Models were introduced for Art Classes and since then several different halls have been used for club meetings and the club expanded with exhibitions arranged at the Arnheim Gallery in Fairfield Halls, Croydon, annual sketching holidays, country sketching and rambles. At one time as many as 200 members belonged to the West Wickham Arts Association (wwaa). Sadly Wally Pharo died in 1982.
The WWAA now meets every Monday afternoon and Monday evening at the Hayes Free Church with a full programme of outings and demonstrations. The Life Drawing sessions on Monday evenings are very well attended and take place whenever there is not a demonstration or a special competition evening. Exhibitions are held at the Bromley Central Library every year and recently these have been held biannually in the Spring and the Autumn. Additionally an open air exhibition is held monthly outside the Croft Radio shop in West Wickham. Club competitions have been held for many years – including the “Wally Pharo” and the “Keith Burtenshaw” producing very good results. An “Abstract” competition has been held for the past four years and the results are thoughtful and varied. Additionally the WWAA produces a quarterly magazine, covering the activities of the club and is issued to all Members. The first Club Newsletter was typed by Tony and Barbara Goodchild, who still continue their association with the Club. It is now edited and produced by Jean and Bob Medlycott.
Our thanks go to the Founders, Wally Pharo and friends, for making the WWAA successful with a high standard of art still maintained, with Session Work, Life Sessions, Exhibitions and Demonstrations, Sketching weekends and days’ outings for painting.