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. This month we feature artist, Kate Walker.
In the peaceful village of Geldeston, where the River Waveney wends its way through the fields is a cottage. At the end of the garden where the bantams root the earth and wild flowers creep between the flag stones is a studio, and the place where artist, Kate Walker, turns her canvases into landscapes.
“I’ve always been inspired by the Broads,” explains Kate, two enthusiastic dogs at her knees, a duck-egg blue mug clasped in her hands, “The area I’m focusing on as part of the Woven Waters project is the River Waveney at Geldeston, where I live. It is at the top of the navigable stretch of the river, which flows out at Great Yarmouth. It is one of the less known, more secretive parts of the Broads network, it is quiet, intimate and tree lined, it rewards those willing to explore.”
And Kate is no stranger to exploring. The proud owner of a rowing boat complete with outboard motor she can often be found painting ‘en plein air’ from her vessel or taking photographs so she can bring the elements back with her into the studio.
Her studio is a large wooden structure with high ceilings perfect for hanging her enormous canvases. The centre of the room is well lit thanks to a skylight while the edges of the room are cosy, with nooks full of sketches, paintbrushes in jam jars and well stacked book shelves. A large pink velvet armchair sits incongruously beneath shelves of oil paints.
Of her style she says, “I am not interested in direct representation when I paint. One of the best ways I’ve heard it summed up is by previous Broads Authority Chair Jacquie Burgess who described the Broads landscape as ‘experienced rather than explained’. I’m really looking to give people an experience of the Broads rather than to explain it to them.”
It’s a landscape that Kate knows only too well, “I walk my dogs in the National Park daily. My walks take me through the site I have chosen, known locally as the ‘three rivers’. It is a beautiful spot where I often moor my boat and have a picnic with my children.”
The canvases in Kate’s studio are examples of the sort of work she loves. Full of texture and colour, impressionistic and yet clearly a view of the landscape, whether that is the warmth of a rising sun or the chill of a hore frost. Her work allows the viewer to easily interpret the piece in their own way.“One of the ways I’m seeking to bring the Broads into the exhibition space is by creating two paintings which represent the changing face of the river from winter to summer, summer to winter. One of the ways I’m going to do this is via my canvas choices. For the summer image I will be using soft natural linen (I’m passionate about using natural fibres in my work) while the winter image will be produced on aluminium to produce the metallic coldness of winter.”
Leaving the snug of the studio and coming out into the midday sunshine it is easy to forget how many local people don’t find their way into the Broads National Park. Inspiring others to fall in love with the Broads is high on Kate’s agenda, “Helping people to connect or reconnect with the Broads is really important to me. With engagement comes a concern to conserve this precious landscape. The more people who love and enjoy the Broads the greater the collective voice to cherish and look after it. I am so thrilled to be a part of the Woven Waters project and really hope that I’ll see more people out on my dog walks discovering Geldeston and falling in the love with Broads National Park, just like I have.”
Next month: Hazel Burgess
Last month: Niki Medlik
Want to find out more about Woven Waters? Woven Waters is an art project led by the Broads Authority as part of their Heritage Lottery funded initiative Water, Mills and Marshes. A selection of local artists are creating work inspired by areas of the Broads and will be showcasing them in the Hostry in Norwich in December. The aim is to inspire the public to visit the areas the artists were inspired by and to encourage them to make their own art inspired by the Broads National Park. Each month a different artist is profiled on the Visit the Broads blog.