MORE than 70 local artists have joined forces to stage an exhibition at a church to raise vital funds for its upkeep.

The annual ‘Bart Art’ show is taking place this week at St Bartholomew’s Church in Sealand and features more than 200 original paintings by local artists.

Money raised from the exhibition will go to keeping the historic church, built in 1867, open.

Churchwarden Ann Hughes has been helping organise the event for 14 years now and says it has been a huge success in the past.

She told the Leader: “We hold the exhibition inside the church itself, it’s a beautiful building.

“I’ve been there since we did the first one and it’s just grown and grown. It’s our main fundraiser of the year and very important.”

Entry to Bart Art is free, with 12.5 per cent of the proceeds from the sale of paintings going towards fundraising for the church.

The artists, who are mainly from the Flintshire and Chester area, pay £3 to hang their paintings.

“The money raised will be used to keep it open, pay bills and general running repairs,” said Ann.

She added: “We do struggle with money because we have a small congregation but we’ve got a really good atmosphere in the church, it’s very friendly and welcoming.”

Among those exhibiting at Bart Art are members of the Ewloe Over 50s Forum Water Colour Painting Class.

“This is the first time members of our group have exhibited there,” said Cllr Doreen Mackie, member of the group and chairman of the Ewloe Over 50s Forum.

“The class is looking for new members who have an interest in water colour painting. They don’t have to be experienced at all.”

Cllr Mackie is a novice painter and exhibitor herself but says she recommends the classes.

“I find it very relaxing,” she said. “Those two hours are my switch off time. All abilities are welcome, the oldest member we have is my mother-in-law who is 92 years old and had never painted much until she started these classes.”

For more information on the Ewloe painting classes call Cllr Mackie on 01244 538241.

Bart Art starts with a preview evening tonight at 7.30pm.

The exhibition is open tomorrow, Friday and Saturday from noon to 8pm and on Sunday from noon to 6pm, followed by a service of thanksgiving in the church.

Refreshments will be available.