The Art School of Peterborough is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special exhibit during September.
The Founders Art Show runs from Friday, September 7th to Friday, September 28th in the LAUNCH gallery at the school (178A Charlotte Street, Peterborough), with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. during the First Friday Art Crawl (September 7).
Twenty-five years ago, the Art School of Peterborough was founded as the Lakefield School of Fine Arts by a group of like-minded people headed by the late artist and teacher Richard Hayman.
In the spring of 1993, Chris and Kit Ridpath opened an art supply store in Julian Plaza in Lakefield, the same year Richard Hayman stopped teaching at the Lakefield College School. Hayman had been the director of the art program at Lakefield College School for 25 years (the school’s art gallery is named in his honour).
After Hayman left Lakefield College School, he rented a studio behind Verne Hamilton’s Real Estate office on Queen Street, a building that now houses Celtic Connections (the studio could be reached through the alley where you can still see the large mural of a Tom Thompson painting done by Hayman).
In the summer of 1993, he walked into the Ridpaths’ art store and discussed the idea of a local art school.
With the help of the Ridpaths, a group of creative people — Drew and Marge Ridpath, Anne Crowley, Marni Moldaver, and Doug and Helen Batten — came together to hammer out the details and, in the fall of 1993, the incorporated not-for-profit Lakefield School of Fine Arts was established, with a board of directors comprising the founders along with Di Collins, with Hayman in the role of the school’s director.
The initial location for the school was the Old Ray’s School on the corner of Buckhorn Road and County Road 8. The school offered adult courses, with Hayman teaching beginner watercolours and pottery, Chris Ridpath teaching oil painting, and Marni Moldaver teaching design. Although the school had 75 students during its first year of operation, it struggled to stay afloat.
In the fall of 1994, Hayman moved the school to its current location at the Charlotte Mews in Peterborough. Now called The Art School of Peterborough, the new location had one large studio on the ground floor and three studios in the basement, of which the largest became the pottery studio. Chris and Kit Ridpath soon followed Hayman into Peterborough, where they opened Ridpath Art Supplies next door the following year.
The school expanded its curriculum, including youth classes taught by Susan Murphy, wildlife painting taught by Terence Andrews, watercolour taught by Emil Varga and Sharon Taylor, and more.
However, despite the relocation to Peterborough increasing the number of students, the school was still struggling financially. As a result, the school launched its annual Art Auction fundraiser, which remains the school’s largest fundraiser to this day.
In 2004, the school suffered a blow when Peterborough was hit by a major storm-related flood. Board members, instructors, and students pitched in to help clean up the school and get it back to working order, and the school purchased new equipment for the basement pottery studio.
The school continued to raise funds to support its operation through the annual art auction as well as garage sales and other fundraisers, and then received an estate donation, which gave it some financial security. A portion of the money was used for improvements at the school.
In 2007, Hayman passed away at the age of 65 after suffering a heart attack, and Anne Marie Kornachuck soon took over the reins as director of the school.
Over the next few years, the school obtained grants and was able to purchase new equipment and hire new instructors, increasing the number of students. In 2013, Kornachuck left her position as director, and long-time instructor Jenni Johnston became the school’s new executive director.
Today, the Art School of Peterborough has three studios on its main floor as well as three studios in the basement, with more than 1,000 students every year. The school offers a variety of classes for people of all ages and — in keeping with Hayman’s goal for an art school where anyone could do art no matter what skill level or their financial background — offers bursaries for people who may not have the financial means to pay for classes.
The Art School of Peterborough remains a place where people come and share their creative journey with each other. The Founders Art Show will celebrate and honour those who made the school what it is today: the founders, board members, instructors, members, students, and volunteers.
For more information about the Art School of Peterborough, visit artschoolptbo.org.
This story is based on information supplied by Jenni Johnson, Executive Director of the Art School of Peterborough.