SIX decades of Finchley art was celebrated at an exhibition opening on Saturday.

The Finchley Art Society launched its 60th annual exhibition, which runs until November 22 at Trinity Church Centre, in Nether Street, North Finchley.

Barbara Pearce, the granddaughter of the society's founder, Paul Smyth, opened the exhibition.

Mrs Pearce spoke of her memories of going to previous exhibition openings at North Finchley Library, in Ravensdale Avenue, as a child.

She said: “If my grandfather was alive today he would be delighted at the way the society is flourishing and the way it has encouraged the artistic talent in so many people over the years.”

Artist and art teacher Mr Smyth started painting when he was seven and, at the age of 29, had one of his works exhibited at the Royal Academy in central London.

By the time he was 65, in 1948, he had painted 4,000 pictures, so many that his family do not know where most of them are.

However some of his works are being shown at this year's exhibition and 288 of his paintings have been scanned and collected online at

Mrs Pearce said her grandfather loved teaching and would have been thrilled that children in the borough have been encouraged to submit paintings or other artistic creations to this year's exhibition.

And she paid tribute to those with artistic talent.

“It must be a great achievement to paint a picture or create something that is a work of art,” she said.

“Unfortunately no one in my family has been endowed with the gift since my grandfather's time, but we all enjoy looking at other people's work.

“I would like to congratulate all those who are showing their exhibits in this exhibition, and all those work so hard behind the scenes to keep the society going.”

Society chairman Loretta DeLange said the event had been very special for members.

"It was wonderful and generally very well received," she said.

"The big thing about Finchley Art Society is that it welcomes anyone who wants to paint or draw and you don't have to be specially talented or have to be trained as an artist, we accept anyone who wants to join."

A total of 110 paintings by society members are on show, and are for sale.

This year for the first time 12 of them are from pupils at six nearby schools.