Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Village life in an age of uncertainty

Even in the bubble of North Norfolk, life can sometimes feel uncertain and far from stable. The last few weeks have seen a curious lack of visitors with even the main road through Burnham seeming unnaturally quiet. It's easy to put this down to the way the Bank Holidays fall or the sometimes shocking events around us - or even as the British like to do - the weather.

All these could be true but,  prompted by the need to establish the date of a particular event, looking back at diaries and notes of activity over the last 10 years here, remarkably little has changed. Pulling back even further, when faced with the all-too-frequent comment that everything is different it's worth bearing in mind the view of a visitor who was born here over 70 years ago and who has subsequently lived all over the world, that in fact this village is still very recognisable and much remains very familiar.

Of course there are many changes but not all are bad. The trees we all take for granted on the Green and which so exercise opinion when they need to be cut back, are in fact recent additions in the overall scheme of things and were not significant in the visitor's memory of growing up here in the early 50's. The shops have changed - but they are still here - and yes there is now more traffic and we do have a car park. In this last respect it's now largely forgotten how long this took - generally accepted at over 50 years - and the price was the addition of new housing that in general does not relate to the needs of the local community. But, yet again, it took a visitor's positive comment about this to remind us that at least the new houses look a lot better than much that has sprouted across the country in the last 10 years; and indirectly they perhaps mean Burnham is still seen as a good place to trade. There will always be naysayers but as the much travelled returnee noted, can anyone identify anywhere that has not changed in the last 70 years?

Returning to the many possible causes of the current uncertainties, the weather yet again stated it's case last weekend, with the following photos all being taken within 30 minutes of each other.

And just to prove that all this doesn't affect business - or maybe it does - this storm shower was closely followed here by a good sale, paid for in slightly damp banknotes, the customer having found themself caught on the beach during the downpour. As they noted, there are unexpected benefits from the new washable currency.

We were tempted to try the equally wet pieces of plastic but on consideration decided this might adversely affect technology.

In the gallery things change all the time, which of course is the reason we are here; over the years we have found it surprising the number of occasions that a customer is disconcerted to find the work they saw last year is no longer available. Not only do we sell different artist's work, but each artist's work in turn changes and moves on. We have two such instances currently on show. Firstly, Norwich artist Richard Bond has been working with fellow artist and popular book illustrator Susan Field on paintings of Norwich and Venice. Arguably very different to Richard's individual paintings en plein air, these joint works already seem to appeal to a rather different and possibly younger audience.

Secondly, we are seeing a new direction for another of Norfolk's own, Gerard Stamp. Best known for his vast serene watercolours he has, since our exhibition last year in Ely Cathedral, moved on to work in oil. Initially revisiting his distinctive church interiors, he has now returned to another love, the ethereal light of the Norfolk Saltmarsh, where sea and sky are inextricably entangled.

Going back to the question of if and where is there somewhere that has not changed in the last 70 years, just maybe this is the answer; - it does of course change all the time, with tides, seasons and weather, but.....

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