Wednesday, 30 April 2014


To my mind Norfolk has always been a county of contrasts. Its people, its landscapes and its weather. In the last week the latent contrasts in the former have been drawn out by the latter.  Yesterday was largely grey and misty, particularly so out along the bank towards the sea. And yet just a couple of miles inland it was bright and warm. Inevitably this was reflected in people and their mood; at the coast rather moody and mysterious whilst inland the mood was more open and friendly.

Which gave me cause to consider how varied are our perceptions of the place - and how this is highlighted by the variety in the artistic interpretations of all this.  In July we have an exhibition opening of works by Mike Bernard.  Familiar to those who visit the gallery and widely known for his paintings of the West Country, London and the Mediterranean, this will be the first time he and we have shown a collection of Norfolk subjects.  I have yet to see the collection but the first taste suggests Mike sees Norfolk as a sunny place.

This is how many like to see it - family, sand, holidays. We all know it and empathise; its Norfolk - where else could it be?  But if you love this - there will be many of us who at the same time can identify with its other side, the mist and the mystery. Judging by the reaction, the latest watercolour in the gallery by Gerard Stamp, captures the essence of this. There is no perceptible divide between saltmarsh and sky and yet - we know it's there.

The subjects of these two very different interpretations and appreciations of Norfolk are probably little more than 5 miles and a few weeks apart. Yes, they contrast but they don't conflict. It would only take a seafret to roll in over the beach huts and the sun to break though over the saltmarsh for the polarity to be reversed. And isn't that wonderful?

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