Spirit of Place Norfolk


All England may be carved out of Norfolk. Here are fens and heaths, and light and deep, and sand and clay-ground, and meadows and pasture, and arable and woody...so grateful is this shire with the variety thereof

From History of the Worthies of England, 1662 by the English churchman and historian Thomas Fuller

A corner of England unlike any other

David Dimbleby A Picture of Britain, BBC 2005



This research project by art historian Catherine Mason is considering the work of contemporary artists in North Norfolk who focus their gaze on the uniquely beautiful sea, sky and landscapes of this part of the British Isles.

Spirit of Place is mapping professional artists living and working in North Norfolk* who use landscape as the major feature in their work. It is an attempt to understand better the genus of the place, its heart, its core, by an examination of the art work produced by the artists who are rooted in this place.

Painting of the Month:

P Bayliss Brown

Aestu, 2017 (above) is part of a new body of work by Phil Bayliss Brown, called Groundscapes. They are large casts of the Norfolk mud flats and continue the artist's interest in making painting more accessible to people with sight loss through highly tangible sculptural objects that visitors can touch.  This work and two others are currently showing at Cley Contemporary.  Brown says "The Norfolk mud flats are quintessentially in flux with transitory features, including bird footprints and casts, normally too soft to experience through touch. The triad of sculptures allows the audience to feel for the first time the elusive, fugacious and impalpable features of these local ground-scapes."  More work by Brown in this vein is exhibited at Gesture: To touch the untouchable, 3-7 August at at a space in John Lewis, Stratford City in London. Find more details here.

Wells Appeal Wells Maltings Appeal, the historic Granary theatre buildings in Saithe Street, Wells next the Sea are currently being redeveloped to create North Norfolk's Premier Arts & Heritage Centre. As Chair of the Arts Working Team I am devising a programme of exhibitions and arts events for the new art gallery and Clore education space, currently under construction. I'd love to hear your thoughts & suggestions - please contact me!


Histories of the Norwich school, the specific history of the Norfolk & Norwich Art Circle, a general publication on Art in East Anglia and various individual monographs of Norfolk artists have been published, however not until Spirit of Place has there been a comprehensive survey undertaken of contemporary landscape art in the North Norfolk region at the beginning of the 21st-Century.

To learn more about the project, please see here

Send your email address to receive notifications of news & events by email

Newsletter sign-up


* For the purposes of Spirit of Place, the parameters of North Norfolk are as defined from Hunstanton in the West to Cromer in the East and inland to Fakenham and Aylsham. This encompasses parts (but not all) of West Norfolk and North Norfolk District Councils. It does not include the Broads or Norwich-based artists.


Charity Affiliation:

It is planned to publish Spirit of Place as a book with a percentage of sales benefiting local charities Homes for Wells and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT).

Homes for WellsHomes for Wells aims to support the local community by providing housing for local people, keyworkers and their families who, due to low wages, need help to find housing. Because of the increasing popularity of the town for retirement and second homes, house prices have risen at such a rate that many locals are unable to afford to buy property in the town and are being forced to live elsewhere. If people cannot afford housing locally they will move, leaving essential services affected.

Norfolk Wildlife TrustThe NWT is the oldest of a national network of wildlife trusts.

Cley marshes
The four hundred acres of Cley Marshes were purchased by Dr Sydney Long in 1926. Long went on to found the Norfolk Wildlife Trust with Cley becoming the Trust's first nature reserve. For generations this site has enjoyed a worldwide reputation as a superb site for watching birds, among them the allusive Bittern.  See me interviewed in a new film created by the NWT for the Cley Marshes Appeal, on now at the Forum, Norwich.