Aylsham graffit artist makes an impression at visual arts festival

An Aylsham graffiti artist brought something 'fresh and new' to a popular art festival which has attracted more people than ever before this year.

The Swaffham Visual Arts Festival, organised by the Swaffham Rotary Club, finished on Sunday with a demonstration by Mik Richardson, 48, who started his business Abacus Art five years ago.

He gave a demonstration at the town's Assembly Rooms, alongside dozens of pieces of fine art, handmade jewellery and pots, which were for sale.

Mr Richardson, who used to be an avionics non-commisioned officer at RAF Coltishall, said: 'I felt elated. It was lovely to be invited to do something quite modern. It really was nice that graffiti art was recognised. The response has been absolutely fabulous.

'Opening up people's eyes to controversy is not bad. The word graffiti makes people think of vandalism but I'm trying to get across that there is a better element to spray art.'

This was the first time he had spoken to people about his art in a formal galley setting but said he enjoyed the experience.

He currently works with the police, Norfolk County Council, Norwich schools and the development agency Creative Arts East, based in Norwich.

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'I try to bring a bit of life and colour to dark areas,' Mr Richardson added.

As well as graffiti art he also completes murals and painted two of the elephants which featured in Norwich's Go Elephant project in 2008, where decorated elephant sculptures were placed in different parts of the city.

Stephen Ward, chairman of Swaffham Rotary Club, said: 'What we would like to do is produce something which is fresh and new so it is not just about watercolours and oil paintings, it is about art in general.'

This was the 16th year the rotary club has put on an art exhibition and last year it changed its name to the visual arts festival. That event raised �5,500 which was donated to charity.

Hundreds of people have attended this year's festival, according to Swaffham Rotary Club member Denis Bishop, who added: 'It's been really well received. We have never had anything like graffiti art before.'

To contact Mr Richardson ring 07941 460799 or email mik_richardson@yahoo.co.uk