On retiring from a career in the Post Office, and moving to Royston in 1978 Edwin (Gary) Grimaldi was horrified to find that there was nothing going on in the art scene here. Having had experience in setting up art exhibitions for the GPO in Britain and Europe, Gary advertised for like minded people, with a view to encouraging aspiring artists in the town. Sylvia Jordan and Harold Perrett were the only ones to respond initially, but they soon gathered a small group together and Mrs Jordan offered her home as a venue for classes. The Society became official in 1979, with the grand total of 24 members. The following year the group had grown to 52 members, and the first Exhibition was held, showing 300 paintings. The Preview was attended by 60 invited guests and opened by Mayor Mrs Pat Rule.

Norman Taylor joined the Society soon after its formation, and Gary and Norman became the leading lights. They undertook the huge job of making our exhibition screens themselves. Gary and Norman, ably assisted by their equally talented wives Joyce and Lilian, built up the Society and steered it through the early years to its present popularity and eminence in the town. As many past members will know, their relationship was not always harmonious, but we have both Gary and Norman to thank for laying the foundations of the Society we have today.


The death of Norman Taylor in 1997, and our President and Founder Edwin (Gary) Grimaldi in 2001 brought to an end the first episode in the history of the Royston Arts Society.

In 2003 we celebrated 25 years with a trip to Winsor and Newton, and Harrow School, and a 25th Anniversary Dinner at the Old Bull Inn, Royston

The Autumn Exhibition Goes From Strength To Strength

Exhibition Catalogues

The outdoor exhibition which used to be held in Church Lane was eventually abandoned after several years of bad weather. It is now held in Royston Town Hall. The Annual Autumn Exhibition, held since the second year of the formation of the Society, has evolved into a prestigious event in the Royston calendar and a key event in Royston Arts Festival.

Ongoing Exhibition in Royston Library

Library Exhibition

The Royston Library building was completed in 1987. Shortly afterwards the then Librarian, Jeremy Haslam, agreed to host an on-going display of paintings by RAS members. The display screens were donated in memory of RAS Member Ian Gavine and it was called the Gavine Gallery. Royston Arts Society paid for the screens to be replaced when the library was refurbished in 2014 and the RAS Library Exhibition has remained a popular attraction for over 30 years. The Covid pandemic closed the exhibition in March 2020 and we were not able to reopen until October 2021.

1996 Afternoon Sessions Commence

Evening painting sessions became less well attended, and it was decided to change to afternoon sessions on Tuesdays. This proved to be a huge success, and by 2008 numbers attending had grown so large that in spite of using the Committee Room and Room 11, we were cramped for space. The Market Hill Rooms had just been refurbished, and proved to be just what we needed. A spacious and well lit hall, and a large kitchen which also gives us room for a good sized store cupboard.

The Members’ Exhibition

Old School Studios

A smaller exhibition, for RAS members only, was started in 2012 by the then Chair, Val Pettifer. The first three were held in the Tavern Galleries, Meldreth which we borrowed during February. It then moved to Val’s Old Schools Studio for a couple of years. It finally moved to the Royston and District Museum and Art Gallery. In 2020 and 2021 the Covid restrictions prevented us from holding any exhibitions so we developed the skills to stage online exhibitions. This was a great success and we plan to hold all the future Members exhibitions online. It allows us to display a lot more paintings and reaches a much wider audience.

The Young Artist Awards

Young Artist Awards Poster

RAS celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018. Rather than simply having a party we thought it would be more appropriate to stage a new event – the RAS Young Artist Awards. We held two events in 2018 and 2019.

Organised by local artists, Stacey Leigh Ross and Rachel Haynes, they both received a lot of support from local and national businesses and organisations. We encouraged local artists aged 16 – 26 to enter a painting into the competition. The first prize was a cash sum of £100 plus a solo exhibition at Curwens Gallery. All the winning entries were also displayed at the RAS Autumn Exhibition.

Since 2014 the Annual General meeting and the Demonstrations have also been held in the Market Hill Rooms. There on the second Friday evening of most months members continue to enjoy demonstrations by a variety of artists in various media.