On the trail – Waveney artists share their secrets

Foreign holidays are on hold this summer, it seems, but for the true explorer, an adventure is never far from the doorstep. Like the Brockdish sculpture meadow. On a hill – yes, a hill – overlooking the Waveney Valley, stand a series of extraordinary glass sculptures, the work of local artist couple, Christopher Parr and Rebecca Lyne. It’s an enchanted place to be sure, but not one you’re likely to stumble across unless you venture from your familiar haunts. And just one of nearly thirty local secrets that painters, sculptors, etchers and mosaic-makers are offering to share with you this summer – for nothing!

Five years old and growing strong, the Harleston and Waveney Art trail boasted 5000 visitors last year, who biked, walked or drove their way along the back-roads of Suffolk and Norfolk, exploring the open studios and gardens of the valley’s diverse artistic community. This year, predictions are the numbers will be even higher, with fewer of us able to afford a trip to the galleries of Europe, but still keen to enjoy the excitement that an encounter with art can bring. But on the Art Trail there’s the added bonus of being able to meet the artists – try that in the Prado!

Walk around the studio and garden of Bazil Leith, near Alburgh, and you might think you’d come to the home of an archaeologist. Soft blue mosaics of Latin phrases adorn the walls. He remembers a visitor much taken with some giant, mosaic-covered plant pots. Could she have a go at making one herself, she wondered. Not a problem, says Bazil. The technique is relatively easy – you don’t need the innate ‘eye’ of a painter. But, he adds mischievously, you do need to have been near the front of the queue when patience was being handed out.

Bazil Leith

For those who have trailed the trail before, there are seven new artists to enjoy this year. You may have, without knowing it, already seen work by one of these: Nick Holmes, based in Harleston, normally works on the grand scale of film and theatre backdrops. But for the trail, he’s exhibiting work of what he calls a ‘domestic’ size. Fressingfield’s Frank Beanland is described as ‘spontaneous, and very fast.’ An ‘eight panel screen painted front and back in oils with a five-inch paint scraper’ is just one work on show. The chance to see him in action shouldn’t be missed – inspiration for a younger generation of artists, to be sure.
The Art Trail runs it’s final weekend 11th – July 12th. Free leaflets with maps and guides to the artists can be found in libraries and information centres, and many of the shops in Harleston, as well as on the Art trail website: www.hwat.org.uk.

The Harleston Gallery is hosting a ‘taster exhibition’ so you can do a quick check on who is doing what, when planning your route; a similar exhibition is at the Cork Bricks gallery in Bungay. And for other kinds of tasting, the Harleston Gallery café is open on Saturdays and Sundays during the trail.