The Broads Authority is embarking on the ultimate art project in the Broads National Park. Under the banner of Water, Mills and Marshes their National Lottery Heritage funded scheme, they are pioneering a new project to encourage the public out into their inspirational National Park to find their inner creativity.
Ahead of the project commencing we catch up with curator Caroline Fisher who explains the project and talks about evolving exhibitions, connecting to the landscape and walks with her dog in the Broads.
For an art project all about finding inspiration in the Broads National Park there couldn’t be a more suitable curator than Caroline Fisher. Not only does she live in the Broads, “with a small tributary of the River Bure running past my house, which makes me feel strongly connected to the landscape.” But she also works in Norwich, where the River Wensum connects the Broads to the city.
East Anglia is famous for its creative output, with the University of East Anglia boasting incredible literary talent, Norwich’s status as UNESCO City of Literature and the incredibly successful Suffolk and Norfolk Open Studios events drawing hundreds of visitors to the counties each year. This, paired with the success of Norwich University of Arts, a plethora of local galleries and endless exhibitions hosted throughout the year make East Anglia a cultural hotspot.But with so much of the creative focus being in big cities such as Norwich, the new Woven Waters project aims to bring aspiring artists out into the Broads National Park. Other National Parks are more geographically visible, you can see mountains from miles away, but the rivers and dykes of the Broads can only be found by those who go looking for them, and to go looking for them is exactly what Woven Waters hopes to inspire people to do.
Caroline explains how six artists will each create work inspired by a particular area in the Broads that will later be exhibited at the Hostry in Norwich Cathedral, “in textiles, painting, photography, print and animation, the artists are seeking to capture the essence of the National Park through the seasons so that visitors will gain a greater connection to and understanding of this fascinating landscape.” The six artists which Caroline helped to select will be working over an 18 month period and as they do so are documenting their inspiration and time spent in the landscape.
As Caroline explains, her plan for curating the exhibition will evolve with the work of the artists, “Over the entire 18 month project I am regularly visiting the artists in their studios, a real privilege, and these visits will help me to think about how to use the space at the Hostry to curate the show in December.” But just as the artists have to be inspired so too does the curator, “I love to come home and be outside, with Norfolk's big skies and wide open views being a great source of inspiration for my own creativity. My favourite thing about the Broads is the sense of escapism and solitude that one can so easily find, by very simply walking with my dog” it is this personal sense of inspiration which Caroline finds in the Broads National Park which makes her so passionate about leading the team of artists to their final exhibition.
“For the Woven Waters project, it is thrilling to see how the six artists are responding to the landscape and its seasonal changes and how the work relates closely to the places they have chosen to work with. For some of them the landscape is wild and full of the sounds and sights of birds and other animals and for others, it is more to do with the ways in which man’s influence is ever present and has been for millennia. I am very excited to go out into the Broads over the coming months, visit sites as diverse as Wheatfen in the west of the National Park and the Angles Way in the east to see at first-hand how the artists have found inspiration for their work.”
Which season gets Caroline’s creative juices flowing the most? “I particularly love the spring- the smell of things growing and the animals and plants waking up- and I find this gives me a feeling that I want to throw myself into new creative projects.” So perhaps it’s fitting that this spring that is exactly what she will be doing. As the bulbs push through the earth so too will the Woven Waters artists bring their own work to the surface, from the germ of an idea to a finished final exhibition in December.
Keep up to date with the woven waters project on their Instagram feed at: https://www.instagram.com/water_mills_marshes/ and check out the Visit the Broads blog each month for a new interview with each of the artists on their work and how they’re getting on with their projects.
Next month: Nicola Medlik