Richard Cork on the founding of the Borough Group / by Theresa Kneppers

Dorothy Mead, [one of the founder members of the Borough Group], later recorded that ‘the Borough Group started in 1946’, and she explained that it was formed ‘to further the aims of David Bomberg and to establish his students as professional painters’. At first, Bomberg preferred to see himself as only teacher and adviser, letting Cliff Holden assume the role of President and refusing to include his own work in the Group’s first exhibition. But Holden emphasized its fundamental indebtedness to Bomberg’s example by explaining afterwards that ‘all of us were dedicated people, who had consciously, not accidentally, sought out Bomberg as the only hope of salvation in British painting at that time.’

In December 1947 several of the painters who had participated in the first Borough Group survey – Holden, Mann, Mead and Richmond – contributed to an exhibition at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead. But it was not, this time, an official Borough Group event, and the addition of Leslie Marr and Dinora created dissension among the other participants. Lilian, who had exhibited in the first Borough Group show and also displayed her work at the Everyman, found herself in an uncomfortable position. So did Bomberg, torn between loyalty towards his own family and a sincere regard for his other pupils at the Borough. When Holden resigned from the Borough Group’s presidency, Bomberg realised that he should now attempt to heal the wounds by establishing the group with a written constitution and becoming the new President himself.
His intervention was successful. At a meeting in January 1948, a formal list of the Group’s members was drawn up. Apart from Lilian and Dinora, they encompassed Holden, Mann, Marr, Mead, Len and Dorothy Missen and Richmond. They were all happy to stay together now that Bomberg had at last assumed leadership, and within a month Marr invited the Group to show its work on a permanent basis at The Bookworm, his bookshop in Newport Court.