Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios is an annual event (taking place this year between 26 May and 10 June) that belongs on your ‘must do’ list. A great host of talented local artists open up their studios and their homes to show not just their work but also their techniques and muses. We went on a hunt to find artists who had found their inspiration in the Broads National Park and we were amazed by how many of them had, so here are a few of our favourites…
Sarah Bays takes her inspiration directly from nature and with the Broads National Park being home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest wildlife it’s no wonder that her work is awash with the likes of herons and hares. She often uses etching and printing as her chosen medium, working on pieces which vary from bright pops of colour to stylish monotone pieces. Sarah captures the changing seasons of the area in pictures which could be stand-alone images or combined with their three accompanying works showing the development of the landscape from spring to winter. We love her vast collection of bird images which look ready to fly straight out of their canvases.
The ceramics produced by local potter Jane Bygrave are the sorts of ceramics that you just have to touch. There is something in their delightful simplicity and tactile textures that draws you to them. Finding inspiration in local characters and landscapes, Jane’s work is a real mixture, ranging from useful mugs in muted blues and greys to small busts of fishermen proudly sporting their catch of the day. Somehow Jane manages to strike the balance between understated and playful, and her gorgeous use of natural colours leaves you thinking of the ‘big skies’ of the Broads.
Alison Varley uses silver and gold to create organic structures which echo the shape of water. Her work varies from conceptual shapes to more specific subjects such as hare cufflinks, or starfish earrings which could have easily been found glittering on the shoreline at Horsey beach. Her silverwork is highly polished which gives the appearance of a glittering river, for those who’d like to take a little piece of the Broads with them wherever they go, a bangle by Alison would be like wearing the Wensum around your wrist!
Susan Gilbert works in watercolours and is inspired by the natural world. She captures her subjects with an understated realism and often focuses on features of the Broads National Park such as in her painting of St Benet’s Abbey. She also works in a variety of sizes, experimenting with miniatures in bold, chunky frames. Her choice of watercolours is perfect for the subtle muted tones which she favours, evoking the watery charms of the Broads.
Some artists have also organised art trails, offering visitors the opportunity to make a day of their studio visits by exploring the local area as well. And there’s a Broads art trail around the Rivers Thurne and Bure, taking in eight studios in the villages of Ludham, Thurne, Oby and Upton. The art trail map shows footpaths and local facilities, as well as details of all the artists.
There are 11 studios to visit in the beautiful Waveney valley in the Southern Broads over weekends until the end of June.