Inspired & inspiring

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 September 2015

Exploring art and friendship with a new west Norfolk art event.  Organiser Davina Barber at her home in South Acre.

Exploring art and friendship with a new west Norfolk art event. Organiser Davina Barber at her home in South Acre.


They got together to share lunch and found themselves first sharing ideas and now sharing an art exhibition too. Rowan Mantell reports.

In kitchens and back bedrooms, studios and sheds, they are creating pictures and pots, furniture and photographs, cartoons, carvings and cushions. Across Norfolk, artists and craftsmen and women are inspired by the county’s landscape and history to make beautiful things.

Many work alone, but this month 28 Norfolk artists are getting together for a joint exhibition.

It all began last year, when Davina Barber, of South Acre, near Swaffham, and Emma Deterding, of Field Dalling, near Holt, had lunch together and realised that although Norfolk is full of creative people, many of them work in isolation. They decided to gather a group of artists and craftspeople together, to share information and support. A series of lunches was arranged and soon an exhibition of their work was being discussed.

“We were just talking about all the amazing talent around here, but we are all individual businesses and we sit at our desks all day and don’t necessarily connect with other people,” says Davina. “Several months later, we proudly present Norfolk by Design: An event that we hope will provide isolated talents with an opportunity to be part of a collective and showcase their work.”

Davina, who runs Source Furnishings finding furniture for clients, and Emma, of interior design business Kelling Designs, knew each other as both are involved in fundraising for the East Anglia Children’s Hospices’ nook appeal. The exhibition will include the chance to donate to the appeal which is raising money to create a new hospice at Framingham Earl, south of Norwich.

Experienced artists with a national profile, including photographer Garlinda Birkbeck, cartoonist Annie Tempest and garden designer George Carter, will be joined by people who may not have had an exhibition before.

At first the exhibition was planned as simply a get-together and chance for the artists to see each others’ work. Now it is creating such a buzz it could become an annual event.

“I used to be involved in the art world in London,” says Davina, “and I wanted to get back to it in Norfolk. It’s everyone who was part of the creative lunches, and then I approached a few people I knew.”

The exhibition will be held at West Lexham Barn, near King’s Lynn, which is part of West Lexham Manor, and has been converted to host events ranging from retreats to family gatherings, and includes self-catering cottages, treehouses and luxury tents. Owner Edmund Colville was part of the original lunch group and the farm buildings were converted with an emphasis on involving local craftspeople.

The Norfolk by Design exhibition will showcase the work of artists from across the county and includes textiles, woodwork, ceramics, illustrations, photography, sculpture, furniture and paintings.

“We feel that Norfolk’s landscape, colours, space and calm are an inspiration to artists of all walks – from potters to painters, photographers to furniture makers. So join us as we begin our inspired journey together!” says Davina.

Norfolk By Design begins with an evening private view and the exhibition is then open to the public from 10am to 4pm on Thursday, September 24 from 10am to 4pm.

The Barn, West Lexham, near King’s Lynn, PE32 2QN;

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