In London, in 1923, a warehouseman, a haddock smoker, a house decorator, and three deck hands banded together and started an arts club called the East London Group. The club met twice a week at Bethnal Green Men’s Institute, and by 1924 numbered 30 members who commuted from Hackney, Mile End, and East Ham. Most were blue-collar workers who painted mundane scenes—street life, factories, buildings—in haunting oils. By 1931, despite their difficult lives, they’d become successful and their show at Whitechapel Gallery was hailed as “intensely fascinating.” In 1936, the club was included in the Venice Biennale. Of the members, especially active were the brothers Walter and Harold Steggles, who produced a large part of the group’s industrious output. In an ode to the club, largely forgotten since W.W. II, the paintings and archives of the Steggles brothers are on view. —E.C.
Beecroft Art Gallery Victoria Ave, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6EX, United Kingdom Get Directions »