An art collective in the picturesque Waveney Valley is set to host a summer art trail to celebrate the work of its members.

Artists will fling open their studio doors across ten locations in June.

The annual event by Harleston and Waveney Art Trail will, this year, be accompanied by a group exhibition at The Old Harnessmakers Gallery in Harleston.

The Old Harnessmakers Gallery in Harleston group exhibition

The Meet the Makers exhibition will showcase the work of the 11 participating artists and craft makers, acting as hub for visitors to get a taste of the work on offer throughout the open studios.

At the exhibition, audiences will get to see a selection of the artists’ work and can start planning their studio visits with help from gallery owner Lisa Henshall.

The event hopes to encourage visitors to explore the art and landscapes of Harleston and Waveney.

Artwork by Ingrid Duffy
Artwork by Ingrid Duffy

Harleston and Waveney Art Trail chairman Malcolm Cudmore said: “I’m beyond delighted that Harleston and Waveney Art Trail is back in action in 2021. As a group, our principal purpose is to welcome visitors to our studios each year – the very thing (for completely understandable reasons) we’ve been unable to do for the last year.

“For 2021, in place of our regular late Spring Trail, we are having a Summer Trail and an Autumn Trail.

“The Summer Trail will be smaller, and a little more contained, than usual. Eleven members will be opening their studios as well as showing their work at The OId Harnessmakers Gallery in Harleston, owned and run by member Lisa Henshall.

“Each studio will adhere to a Covid-safe policy that will ensure that our visitors can be confident of a safe, friendly welcome at each location.

“We are really grateful for the continued support in 2021 from our principal sponsor Durrants Estate Agents.”

A range of artworks will be on offer including contemporary and traditional landscape painting, abstract painting and drawing, printmaking and figurative sculpture, plus greetings cards and prints made from the artists’ original artwork.

Lisa Henshall of The Old Harnessmakers Gallery in Harleston
Lisa Henshall of The Old Harnessmakers Gallery in Harleston

Gallery owner Lisa Henshall set up the space in 2019 as a pop-up gallery to bring a curated and unique collection of arts and crafts to south Norfolk, promoting the links between makers and their supporters.

Lisa, who is an artist, teacher, creative mentor and mum of three, said: “Two years ago, I risked everything to move to a historical town centre building with a history of making dating back to the 1500s – it was originally the Harnessmakers.

“I turned the Harnessmakers workshop and little walled garden into my studio and then the living room into a pop-up gallery. I loved it so much that I recently applied for permanent commercial status and am delighted that this has just been granted.

“Covid could have been seen as the less than perfect time to do it but in some ways the most amazing time, we need more creativity to be shared. Art and craft are the essence of hope; we all need connection and hope, especially now.

“I can’t wait to showcase so many fabulous artists in the Harleston and Waveney Art Trail summer open studios exhibition in the gallery and as an artist I am really looking forward to sharing my studio as well as the gallery.”

The eleven artists participating in the Summer Art Trail are Carolyn Moulton, Sara Johnson, Barbara Bernard, Paul Zawadzki, Liz Taunt, Bobbie Watchorn, Rachel Wiles, Ingrid Duffy, Nell Close, Lisa Henshall, Kath Wallace.

Artwork by Liz Taunt
Artwork by Liz Taunt

The artist’s studios are dotted around the valley, in and between Harleston, Wortwell, Homersfield, Denton, Earsham, Ditchingham, Bungay and Hedenham.

The studios will be open over the weekends of 19th and 20th June and 26th and 27th June while the gallery will host the exhibition between 27th May and 3rd July.

Later in the year, the Autumn Trail will involve every member of Harleston and Waveney Art Trail – around two dozen artists. This trail will take place over the first three weekends of September – 4th/5th,
11th/12th and 18th/19th.

Malcolm Cudmore said: “We are all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our studios and to the opportunity to show new work in the places where it was created.”

For full details of each artist and open studio please visit the group’s website at www.hwat.org.uk

For more information about the gallery visit www.oldharnessmakers.com

Artwork by Sara Johnson
Artwork by Sara Johnson

About Harleston & Waveney Art Trail

The Harleston & Waveney Art Trail Collective (also known as HWAT) is a diverse and lively community of professional artists who live and work in the beautiful Waveney Valley, all within reach of Harleston, a small market town on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Harleston & Waveney Art Trail has taken place every summer since 2005. Each year the group opens their studios and workshops for two or three consecutive weekends. Entry to all studios and workshops is free, browsers are very welcome, and work can be purchased direct from the artists. All the studios are within ten miles of Harleston.