Sunday, 30 November 2014

Mutual - if distant - attractions

For reasons now lost in the mists of time, I am a friend of the Bovey Tracey Craft Fair. It's over 300 miles away and, as its now fashionable to say, other fairs are available. Many of the artists and makers who show there each June return year after year, and yet I still feel drawn to attend whenever possible. Not too big, but with plenty to see and talk about, I have never been disappointed.

It was I think in 2012 that I first saw the work of Rob Braysbrook. For him it's also quite a way from home - in his case the very furthest extremity of Cornwall, so it wasn't a complete surprise that I hadn't seen his work before. Regular visitors to events of this kind will know how quickly everything starts to look very similar and general levels of receptiveness begin to drop. And yet in amongst an embarrassment of riches - the standard is high - Rob's work caught and held my attention.

Two and a half years on, I am delighted to have some of his work here in Norfolk. His reliefs cut from birch veneer please me on all kinds of level, and in the few days they have been here my reaction has been replicated by our visitors. As one customer pointed out, this is exactly how most of us see waders and their kind, as outlines against the light or reflected in the wet mud.

My pleasure at being able to show it here was heightened by the fact that the artist brought it in person, renewing our contact, travelling over 400 miles to sample the unknown delights of North Norfolk. In my view, he could have been forgiven for not being over-excited, it being undeniably grey and by the dramatic standards of far Penwith less than stimulating.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Having suggested the walk on the bank at Overy as worth a try, we bumped into each other in the dusk just 24 hours later. Norfolk had worked its magic on him, the sight of the elusive rough-legged Buzzard and a short-eared (I think) Owl just confirming the message I had apparently conveyed to him back at Bovey. And as with so many things about gallery life, there was an added bonus insofar as he departed heading west bearing a work for delivery in Falmouth.

Inevitably, our conversations have reignited my latent love of Cornwall and I imagine I may well find myself heading their way in the New Year. I love our saltmarsh coast but a little wild wetness of cliffs and rolling waves does seem very tempting just now.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Time and Tide

In just a few weeks time it will be a year since much of the Norfolk coast was awash, a combination of high spring tides and low pressure over the North Sea producing coastal flooding not seen since the 50's. A lot of the damage has been repaired and in many cases things are more or less as they were this time last year.

However on my perambulations in the dusk at Burnham Overy, its difficult not to notice the scurry of activity of building contractors busy working on many of the properties that were inundated last year. Presumably their owners feel a sense of growing urgency or simply would like them back in use by Christmas. One of the bigger houses is replacing its hedge boundary to the coast path with a reinforced wall and presumably removable flood barriers to its entrance from the Staithe.

It's equally difficult not to notice that the weather seems to be following a rather similar pattern to last year. It's all very calm and tranquil, only just autumnal rather than heading for winter and certainly nothing untoward in the monthly forecast - again just like last year. Given the way nature has a habit of catching us out, it would be nice to think the aforementioned flood protection is in place before the early December big tides.

Having said that, even if the works are finished, should history repeat itself it wouldn't come as that much of a surprise if the tide somehow found its way round the back