Celebrating and supporting the creativity of artists and makers in our community

The Wells next the Sea community is rich with artists and makers. Last year, Wells Maltings led an initiative that opened our Handa Gallery to any artists living and working within the NR23 postcode area, and we were overwhelmed by the response. The resultant exhibition in June and July this year featured over 40 local artists and was universally declared a great success. Above all, it signalled how we as a creative organisation can work to give support to artists at all levels and stages of their careers, and the richness and diversity artists can offer to a place like Wells Maltings.

Although the exhibition ended, it was clearly not the end of the NR23 network. Since then, the group has met regularly, and has discussed ways with us to embed this exciting development and take it forward.

A second exhibition, NR23:23, took place in September 2023, followed by a Maker’s Market in December 2023. In 2024, NR23 artists will be out in force during North Norfolk Open Studios (hyperlink pls) with pop up studios in the Handa Gallery 25 May to 2 June and a taster exhibition, with more details here. An Art Fair, combining great art, local artists and affordable art,  will take place 28 -30 June 2024 – and look out for the next NR23 exhibition of work in September 2024.

The group thrives and thrives, with more members joining every month, making this the most vibrant and creative local artists’ collective in north Norfolk.

We’ll be posting news and updates here, including information on other work and exhibitions across artists within the NR23  network.

If you are a practising artist or maker living or working in the Wells area, we’d love you to come aboard. Contact us at [email protected].


NR23 Artwork

Thom Borthwick
Tim Lankester
Toby Newman
Trevor Woods
Alison Henry
Ann Egan
Brian Ryder
Bryony Knights
Carla Phillips
Caroline Wheeler
Ceri Thomson
Chloe Steel
Chris Beale
Chris Dilks
Christine Grey
Debbie Lyddon
Deirdre Amsden
Hazel Ashley
Helen McConnell
John Bell
John Richter
John Tuck
Laura Humeniuk
Linda Gower
Linda Pattrick
Moff Moffatt
Pia Henderson
Pippa King
Rachel Parker
Sophia Williams
Susan Rainsford
Thea Hickling
Joy Pitts

Artists’ news

Joy Pitts

10,000 Used Labels

The 10,000 used labels represent our best clothes set aside for wearing to church on Sundays, the ceremonial garment revealing stories of image renewal and twenty first century consumption. The sculpture has been described as ‘an extravagant rescue of fashionable waste’. It provides a record of people and their garments, the shops that sell clothes and the speed of change in fashion and dress.

A medieval cope worn by a bishop was designed to advertise news; finely embroidered detail would depict the life of Christ and seek to transform the wearer during ecclesiastical processions. In 2012 the sculpture was selected for the North Norfolk Exhibition Project at Salthouse 12, St. Margaret of Antioch Church, Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.

Joy Pitts

Turning 1000s of clothing labels into works of art.

Debbie Lyddon
Bark Tanning

Sails, tarpaulins and nets are found all around the coast and I take inspiration from how they are made and used. Referencing traditional practices of waterproofing and preserving these utilitarian objects I evoke my surroundings using the materials and processes of the natural environment to create a connection between the world we live in, and the lives and actions of its inhabitants

The work in these images was inspired by a visit to the Grimsay Boat Haven in the Outer Hebrides where I saw old sails that had been dyed with cutch to preserve them from the effects of the weather. Cutch comes from the heartwood of the Acacia Catechu tree which grows in East Asia, India and other parts of Asia. It is a natural preservative that contains tannin, the active ingredient for protecting sails, and it produces the red/brown colour seen on many traditional sailing boats.

As well as cutch other tannin rich plants can be used and all around the world fishermen and sailors of the past have used various plants and barks to preserve and protect their sails and ropes. In the South Pacific mangrove tree bark was used, and in Newfoundland sailors and fishermen harvested and boiled their ropes and sails in birch bark.

I like to make work that connects to my environment and so as well as using cutch, I looked around for a tannin rich tree bark that I could collect locally to make a preservative and dye. Oak contains the highest percentage of tannin and can be found in many places along the North Norfolk coast. It dyes the cloth a soft yellow/brown colour.

These images show small pocket like containers that have been bark tanned with both cutch and oak.