Norfolk's artists open their studios

Mary HamiltonMore than 300 artists are preparing to welcome visitors into their studios, galleries and exhibitions to see their work and learn more about Norfolk's creative side. MARY HAMILTON previews Norfolk Open Sudios.Mary Hamilton

More than 300 artists are preparing to welcome visitors into their studios, galleries and exhibitions to see their work and learn more about Norfolk's creative side. MARY HAMILTON previews Norfolk Open Studios 2010.

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A treasure trail of back rooms, sheds, workshops and studios stretching across Norfolk will be opening up to the public from tomorrow.

More than 330 artists will be throwing open their work spaces to the public, inviting people to experience the creation of their masterpieces at first hand in the largest event of its kind in Norfolk.

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Visitors to Norfolk Open Studios in 2010 can expect to see almost every conceivable visual art form and will be invited to participate in a vast range of events from kiln openings to silk painting with Caribbean music and everything else in between.

The event is an opportunity for artists to connect with each other and with the people who appreciate, commission and purchase their work.

It is now in its 17th year, and this will be the second time it has been organised by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival team, who have worked to build on previous successes by involving schools in the programme and encouraging artists to work together to create local art trails.

In 2009, an estimated 27,400 members of the public roamed the county to visit more than 250 participating artists in 253 venues - and art worth an estimated total of �221,628 was sold.

One artist who has become involved for the first time this year is Annie Tempest, creator of the Tottering-By-Gently cartoon strips featured in Country Life magazine.

She will be opening up her home and studios at Stibbard, near Fakenham, for the first time, holding demonstrations and answering questions about her work, as well as putting on the largest show of her work outside a London gallery.

She will also be showing her bronze figurative sculptures for the first time since she began learning to create them four years ago.

'I have just won the Pomp prize as a cartoonist and I have just turned 50 and I thought, well, if I'm going to do it, it should be this year,' she said.

'I've been lucky enough to get sponsorship from local businesses so I've been able to spend money and turn it into a community event.

'We have invited schools to bring trips round - I know there are two groups from Gresham's in Holt coming and I hope more will join them.

'I think Norfolk Open Studios is absolutely marvellous for artists. Since I got involved I have had so many invitations to exhibitions from other artists who I might never have met otherwise.

'Being an artist can be a very solitary life and it's often difficult to meet other artists, especially full time ones, but it's so important to try to find people who speak the same language. Norfolk has an incredibly rich artistic life and this is a wonderful way to celebrate it.'

As well as individual open studios, art trails will run through villages all over Norfolk, ranging from a circular bicycle trail through Loddon, Rockland St Mary and Bergh Apton to a butterfly trail for children at the Assembly House in Norwich.

The trails are each unique and visitors can find sketching competitions, raffles, tea and cakes along the routes as part of a day out exploring art and sampling local pubs and cafes.

And for the first time this year five Norfolk schools will be displaying their work with Norfolk and Norwich Festival's creative partnerships programme.

Burnham Market Primary School, Catton Grove Primary School in Norwich, North Walsham Primary School, St William's Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew and Tuckswood Primary School in Norwich have worked with visual artists, historians, ecologists and video-makers to create their installations and displays.

Festival artistic director Jonathan Holloway said: '2010 is an important year for artists in Norfolk. With the short-listing of Norwich for the first UK City of Culture, the world is looking our way.

'Norfolk Open Studios holds a unique place in the collective heart of the county. Its very existence is testament to the breadth and diversity of Norfolk's creative output and proof of the energy, drive and inventiveness of hundreds of visual artists.'

t Norfolk Open Studios runs from May 22 to June 6. For a full list of participating artists and to request a brochure call 01603 877757 or visit:


t Art on Parade, Great Yarmouth - pick up a map from participating businesses on Marine Parade.

t Aylsham Open Studios Art Trail - pick up a map from Arts @the Tabernacle.

t Bergh Apton Art Cycle Trail - pick up a map from Anteros Centre.

t Briston and Hunworth Art Trail - visit for all the details.

t Butterfly Art Trail - map available from Assembly House Norwich.

t Castle Acre Art Trail - map available from local shops and participating artists.

t Cley and Blakeney Artists Trail - map available from participating artists.

t Mattishall and Wellborne Art Trail - map available from local shops and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich.

t North Walsham Artist Trail - map available from local shops and Tourist Information Centre.

t Norwich Over the Water - map available from participating artists, Norwich Art Supplies and Norwich Frame Workshop.

t Rocklands Open Studios Art Trail - map available from Rockland Post Office and from artist Marion Baker.

t Wells-next-the-Sea Art Trail - map available from local shops and pubs and participating artists.