Centenary for Alfred East Art Gallery aims to recreate past

Katie Boyce, gallery officer at the Alfred East art gallery with some of Alfred East's etchings, to promote the gallery's 100-year celebrations later this month.
Katie Boyce, gallery officer at the Alfred East art gallery with some of Alfred East's etchings, to promote the gallery's 100-year celebrations later this month.
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A special celebration to mark the centenary of a Kettering art gallery – and to remember the life of the town’s best known artistic figures – is being held at the end of this month.

Wednesday, July 31, marks 100 years since the Alfred East Art Gallery opened for the first time.

Sir Alfred East, self-portrait

Sir Alfred East, self-portrait

The gallery was built to house the works of Kettering artist Sir Alfred East – who gifted them to the town – although Sir Alfred never saw the gallery as he was too ill to attend the opening and died two months later.

On July 31, gallery officer Katie Boyce said the celebration will try to mimic as much as possible the opening ceremony in July 1913.

She said: “The day will start at about 1pm with a talk from Geoff Hales, who will be playing the part of Sir Alfred East and telling people something about the man himself.

“It will last about an hour and is a ticketed event, costing £5 or £3.50 for leisure pass holders.

“At 2pm the Kettering Sea Cadets will march from the church along Sheep Street and to the Manor House Gardens, where they will play for 30 minutes.

“This recreates a performance which the Kettering Rifle Band made in 1913.

“At 2.30pm the bells at St Peter and St Paul Church will ring for 30 minutes, which will mark 100 years from the exact moment the gallery opened.”

The event then features speeches from dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, who will recreate a speech given by Earl Spencer in 1913.

Afterwards there will be a ribbon cutting and later, at 6pm a string trio will perform in the Manor House Gardens where wine and canapes will be served.

Miss Boyce said: “The planning for the event began about 18 months ago and we are hoping that lots of people will come along to celebrate the centenary.

“We are displaying the original collection which Sir Alfred gifted to the town for people to see.”

For more information call 01536 410333.

finding fame

Sir Alfred East was born in Kettering in 1844 and after his education at Kettering Grammar School he worked for the family shoe firm.

He left the firm in the 1870s to pursue a career in art. In the 1880s he moved to London and his work began to find fame both at home and abroad.

His association with many art societies led to a knighthood in 1910. In 1913, the Alfred East Art Gallery was built to house his works, which he gifted to the town of Kettering.

Sir Alfred died just two months after the gallery opened.