Woven Waters: Interview with Hazel Burgess

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Starting from a bustling public park in Lowestoft, Norfolk artist Hazel Burgess has been quietly walking along the Angles Way through Carlton Marshes to the River Waveney each season for the past year. She is producing a body of work in response to this stunning part of the Broads to be shown at the Woven Waters exhibition in The Hostry in Norwich Cathedral in December.

Hazel Burgess in the field
Hazel Burgess in the field

“This is such a beautiful walk, whatever the time of year and whatever the weather. I’ve been completely soaked, almost blown off the path and more recently baked in some amazing sunshine and ridiculously hot walking weather – and I’ve totally loved each and every walk. The landscape and the wildlife has been incredible all year round and it’s a fairly flat and easy walk starting from Nicolas Everitt park. You begin surrounded by tame squirrels and lovely views of Oulton Broad, wind your way through Carlton Marshes with its scrapes and dykes and shy Chinese water deer and finish by the beautiful River Waveney with stunning views back over Carlton Marshes."

The Angles Way path continues along the river all the way to Beccles but Hazel’s section finishes after about an hour. “The walk to Beccles is lovely – but not one that I could easily repeat each month. This section is just perfect and it has been great seeing the changes that each season brings.”

Hazel’s work involves burying small etching plates at carefully chosen spots as she walks. She leaves the plates for a lunar month to be rusted and weathered. On the next walk Hazel collects the plates and takes them back to her studio in Norwich. She cleans off any large debris and then prints the plates as they are, unaltered – the images are made and shaped by the environment in which the plates have been left. “I love the lack of control I have over this process,” Hazel explains. “Apart from where I put them and how long I leave them I have no control over what happens to the plates – some rust really well and some are hardly touched at all.”

Hazel Burgess' art work
Hazel Burgess' art work

Hazel then adds text, images and drawings to the prints, reflecting notes and sketches that she makes on the walks, or the times that the plates have been buried, or the encounters that she’s had on the way. “My work is all to do with time and place, chance and systems, walking and, often, swimming. I’m planning to show two sets of work in December – prints from the winter walks, and those from the summer walks. 

The two winter walks were a hard slog with driving rain, fierce winds and thick sticky mud, while the two summer walks involved lots of rests to drink water and escape from the searing heat – the contrast couldn’t really have been greater and I’m interested in seeing how this translates into the work. Both sets of walks were fantastic in their own ways and highlight the different experiences you get walking in the Broads at all times of year, whatever the weather. I hope my work inspires people to get out and explore this beautiful area of the Broads.”