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.

Histories of the Norwich school, the specific history of the Norfolk & Norwich Art Circle, general publications 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


Robert Gillmor
Plovers, watercolour painting, 2016

I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of artist Robert Gillmor. He was an internationally highly respected ornithologist, book illustrator and artist, who had resided with his wife at Cley-next-the-Sea since 1998. I enjoyed meeting him in his studio some years ago and seeing his lino-printing process in action. His book Cutting Away (2006) is highly recommended for more on this. The small 4 x 6 inch watercolour above is post-card sized – one he specially produced for me as part of a ‘Secret Postcards’ fundraiser for the Wells Maltings that I was involved with in 2016. Over 120 artists, most based in Norfolk, a few farther afield, provided original post-card sized artworks in a variety of media which were sold anonymously as a ‘lucky dip’. (£8,000 was raised) Indeed lucky was the person who purchased this one! Robert Gillmor (1936-2022): May he rest in peace.

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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 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.

The NWT is the oldest of a national network of wildlife trusts.

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 this new film created by the NWT for the Cley Marshes Appeal,  shown at the Forum, Norwich.

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