Norfolk home: The Wymondham house filled with art

PUBLISHED: 13:40 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 11 March 2020

Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)

Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)

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A Wymondham home was turned into a work of art by a grieving widow

When artist Patricia Derrick's husband died she began using their home as her canvas. Room by room she transformed woodchip wallpaper and magnolia paint into a golden garden populated by playful cats, with zebras prancing across the landing, a swarm of bees on a bedroom wall, quotations painted on ceilings, and a series of framed pairs of tapestry eyes. There are chandeliers and rows of round mirrors and cupboards and tables filled with curated collections. The kitchen blind lowers to reveal a picture captioned 'hands that do dishes' and in the front room an angel guards a bookcase. Climbing to the first floor are the words: 'Some rise by sin, others by the stairs.' In Patricia's bedroom her wedding dress is displayed on a mannequin and much of the study is dedicated to the music and musicians her husband loved.

Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)

Pictures are painted freehand, stencilled and embossed with gold leaf, straight onto walls and ceilings, or stitched as tapestries and collages. Beds are covered in beautiful hand-made quilts and trees and flowers are painted growing up walls.

Patricia died in December, aged 71, and now her grieving children are recording the home which became a work of art, before putting it up for sale this spring. Her daughter, Hannah, said it had been just a normal family house until her dad, Elvin, died in 2014. She would love to be able to sell it to someone who might appreciate and keep the art.

Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)

'Her home became her canvas,' said Hannah. 'I had never seen mum doing any DIY in her life and suddenly she was doing all this. Every time I visited she had done something else.' Patricia took up carpets, waxed the old floorboards and filled her house with rich colour. In the dining room a silhouetted cat is jumping from a cupboard into a golden garden. 'All our pet cats and rabbits are there, and the pear tree, and the cacti my dad collected.' On another wall a dragon and some magnificently winged pigs take flight. On a shelf are jars of dried up apple cores, each labelled 'original sin' and topped with black and red lace.

Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)Artist and actress Patricia Derrick used her home as canvas for her work following the death of her husband in 2014 (photo: Sonya Duncan)

'That's one of mum's art installations,' said Hannah, a midwife from Ely. She and her brother Eden, a chef, grew up in the house, and when they got older Patricia returned to study, taking an art A level, and continuing to art college and degrees. She joined Norfolk's Baroque Theatre Company and combined her love of art and acting in performances such as Rubia Rubia in Norwich in 2005, when she celebrated the textile industry by weaving madder-red thread and fabric into buildings in the ancient Maddermarket area, grew madder plants beside the church and handed out red gloves to passers-by. She also took a life-size picture of the tomb sculpture of a Loddon woman to St Paul's in London, to honour her huge donation to the restoration of the church. She had died before St Paul's was finished. Another show beside Wymondham market cross saw her create a garden and transform from elaborately dressed lady to land girl.

Patricia Derrick's home (photo: Sonya Duncan)Patricia Derrick's home (photo: Sonya Duncan)

In her performances Patricia honoured the history of Norfolk people and places; in her home she created a rich work of art celebrating her family and her many interests.

Patricia Derrick's home (photo: Sonya Duncan)Patricia Derrick's home (photo: Sonya Duncan)

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Photo: Sonya DuncanPhoto: Sonya Duncan

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