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 NR23 exhibition is planned for September 2023; during North Norfolk Open Studios week in May 2023, we’ll be hosting seven NR23 artists in pop up studios within the flexible Handa Gallery space. And that’s just for starters.
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].
North Norfolk Exhibition Project
CALL TO ARTISTS WITH A CONNECTION TO NORFOLK
Exhibition dates: Thursday 4 July – Sunday 4 August
Deadline for applications: Monday 27 November 2023
Please go to the NNEP website for Brief and Application Form
Alison Henry, Bayfield Hall Sculpture Trail
Alison Henry – member of the NR23 artist community – will be taking part in the Bayfield Hall Sculpture Trail from 4th to 29th October 2023. https://bayfieldhallsculpture.com/ She will be showing her ‘Celebration of Rooks’ originally created for the NNEP Wighton 23 exhibition.
Nature’s seasonal cycles are being affected by climate change. UK Spring ‘events’ – nesting patterns, emergence of insects and plants – are happening much earlier than before. A Congregation of Rooks features seven plaster moulds of relief sculptures of rooks, which are now building their first nests almost ten days earlier than in 2001 and are thus symptomatic of the shift. Some species will adapt and survive, others tragically will not. The moulds’ negative spaces are a ghostly representation of their future absence.
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.