ART lovers in East Lothian are getting the chance to enjoy exhibitions staged by Musselburgh Art Club.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the artists used to display their paintings in Musselburgh Town Hall but the building has remained closed.

So they decided to take their artwork to more venues around the county, with their winter exhibition due to open at Cockenzie House & Gardens today (Thursday).

The club also has a permanent exhibition at the Hollies Hub in Musselburgh.

New members have also been welcomed to the club since the pandemic, including Pam Strachan, who joined 18 months ago. She lives in the Craigentinny area of Edinburgh and is delighted to be on a bus route which stops very close to the art club’s own studio on Bridge Street.

She said: “I have been retired for six years. I didn’t really enjoy the first four years – I felt a bit lost. Never having painted before, I decided to give it a go. I was hooked pretty quickly.

“I live in a small flat and needed more space, so, two years ago, I decided to join Musselburgh Art Club. This decision has completely changed my retirement for the better.

“I try and go at least twice a week, sometimes more if I have a big project on. It’s just like going to work but with all the horrible bits removed.

“We can go any time we want, so it’s never the same people twice and we all have different projects on. What we have in common is a love of art and we care about each other’s projects.

“We help each other, sometimes we chat and have a laugh, sometimes we are just quiet, working away.

“I’ve taken part in exhibitions, I’ve sold pictures and I’ve done great workshops, which is expanding my horizons. Life is fun again, I have purpose and somewhere to go. The spring in my step is back.”

Debra Paterson, who is originally from Musselburgh, joined the art club this year.

She said: “The moment I entered I was met with welcoming faces and the room was lovely, bright and airy.

“The space is perfect for creating artwork. It has spare materials, a library and you are never far from inspiration from other members.

“Art is a powerful tool for self-care and mental health. It can help with depression, anxiety and stress. It is also linked to improving memory, reasoning and resilience in ageing adults.

“Musselburgh Art Club is a space for ‘me’ time, meeting new people, learning new skills, being a part of a brilliant community and having fun.”

Pam added: “Our winter exhibition at Cockenzie House is our fourth since Covid and we are pleased that one of the exhibitions was a fundraiser for Ukraine.

“The grounds are so beautiful that every summer we try and spend a day there sketching. Some of our members have attended courses at the Paintbox School of Art, which is based within the house.”

She recalled that she sold her first painting at Cockenzie House, saying: “I went with two friends and was trying to be cool but when I saw that red dot on the picture I got so excited I jumped up and down.

“We are really proud as a club to see our work in different locations in East Lothian.”

The winter exhibition at Cockenzie House & Gardens is on until January 16, 10am-4pm, but will be closed from December 2 to January 4.

The club is also supporting a fundraising appeal launched by army veteran and Tesco delivery driver William Morrison, who is Tesco’s area organiser for the Scottish Poppy Appeal. The artists have donated paintings for sale or auction on a poppy theme. In the past two years, Mr Morrison, along with Tesco in Musselburgh and support from veterans, has raised about £18,000 to support armed forces veterans.

Anyone interested in joining the art club can email

All levels are welcome.