Montage of logo and four images from the spring exhibition


In the Spring of 1941, A. E. Hickman-Smith, an amateur but professionally competent painter, feeling thoroughly fed up with the German bombing of London, decided to do something to counter its effects and assembled a number of artist friends, who formed the Islington Art Circle. As soon as its first exhibition was hung in the large hall of the Central Library, a landmine exploded nearby, destroying the glass roof of the hall. Miraculously, no paintings were damaged! This was an auspicious start for the new group.

After A. E. Hickman-Smith’s death in 1965 the IAC was led by George and Deborah Bunting who staged a successful Autumn Exhibition. At the close of the exhibition they formed a committee with artists: Geoff Wickham, Leonard Renton, James Hardy, Sylvia Leibson, Joan Sexton and their partners. From the beginning, this committee was determined to preserve the quality of work. As proof of IAC’s standard, the first president was Sir Basil Spence, of Coventry Cathedral fame. Following his death, subsequent presidents were Sir William Coldstream and Anthony Green, RA. George and Deborah Bunting continued their commitment to the IAC for a further 35 years until their deaths in 2000.

In 2002 the group changed its name to Islington Art Society, which continues to promote art and artists. Its members include painters, sculptors and printmakers both amateur and professional. It also benefits from the assistance of members who are not practising artists. IAS holds Spring and Autumn exhibitions each year. In 2006 the IAS started holding exhibitions in The Gallery attached to the Stoke Newington Library, in the London Borough of Hackney. Since 2009 it has held one of its twice yearly exhibitions in the galleries of the Hornsey Library in the nearby Borough of Haringey.