Elsing Hall Gardens was visited on 16 Jun & 15 Sep 2019 one of seven days painting in six of Norfolk’s great gardens, and this grade I listed rural home has been described as “one of the hidden treasures of East Anglia”. The 20-acre estate of the fifteenth-century house and medieval moat near Dereham was previously recorded in nineteenth-century watercolour paintings by Rev James Bulwer now held in the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. In June, the roses were in full bloom but throughout the year the gardens have views around every twist of moat and turn of corner.
The romantic gardens were established over 30 years ago under the direction of Shirley Cargill and have constantly developed ever since in terms of both restoration and innovation. There is a historic hydraulic ram pump that was installed almost 200 years ago and is still housed in its original underground brick pump house accessed by a spiral stairway.
Many other interesting features include the probably unique gingko avenue, the rapidly maturing pinetum, the formal Osprey Garden, the flowing planting around the moat, and densely planted with Lonicera Nitida viewing mound with a spiral path taking one slowly to the summit.
The “Gothic” fountain is unique and fancy bricks from a local manufacturer were used to create medieval style walls, ruins and follies. Within less than 3 acres, Henry Trevor established a gentleman’s residence and garden that reflected in miniature the grand country houses of the Victorian period including terraces with balustrades, rockworks, a Palm House, and a rustic bridge.
“3-acre Victorian town garden created 1856-97 in former medieval chalk quarry. Remarkable architectural features include a 60ft Italianate terrace, unique 30ft Gothic fountain, newly re-built Gothic alcove, restored rustic bridge and summerhouse. Surrounded by mature trees. Beautifully tranquil atmosphere. The Plantation Garden is a grade II English Heritage registered garden established 143 years ago in an abandoned chalk quarry some 600 yards from the city centre. It comprises nearly 3 acres in all, and includes, a huge gothic fountain, flower beds, lawns, Italianate terrace, ‘Medieval’ terrace wall, woodland walkways and rustic bridge. There are many hidden and unique features to this idiosyncratic garden, making it a haven of peace and tranquility, and a glimpse into a bygone age.” – Head Gardener
The Bishop’s Garden is a historic private four-acre formal city centre garden that has belonged to the Bishops of Norwich for over 900 years and includes 14th-century ruins. The general form of the garden was laid down at least 300 years ago and includes many hidden and historic delights.
“The garden has many hidden delights for visitors such as the large traditional herbaceous borders, a small woodland walk, boxed rose beds, a long shade border with hostas, meconopsis and tree ferns. Also a large wild grass labyrinth, extensive shrubberies containing many rare and unusual plants, among these being a Hebe planted from a sprig taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet in 1840. There is an organic kitchen garden, bamboo walk…and the garden continues to evolve with new plants and features being introduced year by year.”
Hunworth Hall garden, on 5 Oct 2019 is the fourth of six of Norfolk’s great gardens we are painting in this year as part of a series exploring the draw of the English garden in our cultural and artistic psyche. Whether a cottage garden or a landscaped historic estate they all change through the seasons and our final three gardens are seen through autumnal eyes.
Near Holt and Melton Constable, owners Henry and art historian Charlotte Crawley researched the horticultural heritage of their home and restored its Dutch-style pleasure gardens including flowing lines of sculpted hedged, twin canals, a folly, and extensive topiaried trees cut into balls, cones, and parasols.
Hear Henry describing the garden on the BBC which are partly inspired by the 17th-century Dutch water garden at Westbury Court, Gloucestershire. The garden featured in Country Life, 2013.
Charlotte is also a former Director of the East Anglia Art Fund and has been a Paint Out judge.
Paint Out‘s 2019 plein air exploration of Norfolk’s great gardens and houses continues with Houghton Hall walled garden (14 Sep, 11-5pm) but you could also double-up and do Houghton and Elsing Hall across a weekend 14-15 Sep in Norfolk.
A past winner of Christie’s Historic Houses Association ‘Garden of the Year Award’, the 5-acre walled garden has become one of Houghton’s most popular attractions and is itself surrounded by acres of deer-filled woodland and the sculptures of Henry Moore.
Whether the colour of the plantings, or the architecture of horticultural form, or the statues and fine glasshouse, there are views aplenty to paint.
These are available as one-day paintouts for £30 or £100 for the remaining 4 events or all 6 if you’ve already pre-paid for the year.
The space within Houghton Hall’s Walled Garden is divided into several contrasting ‘ornamental gardens’. These include a spectacular double-sided herbaceous border, an Italian garden, a formal rose parterre, fruit and vegetable gardens, a glasshouse, a rustic temple, antique statues, fountains and contemporary sculptures including Jeppe Hein’s “Waterflame”, Stephen Cox’s “Flask II”, and Richard Long’s “Houghton Cross” currently positioned on the croquet lawn.
Historic England entry (somewhat out of date!): KITCHEN GARDEN The 5 acre (c 2ha) walled garden lies c 350m south-west of the Hall behind 3m high red-brick walls (listed grade II).
The interior has been developed over the past five years (1992-7) by the present owner as an ornamental flower, fruit, and vegetable garden and is divided into four compartments by mature yew and beech hedges connected to a late C20 central circle of yew with tree peony beds. Paths of grass and gravel radiate from this, with the long north/south axis defined by double herbaceous borders.
The north-east quarter contains a newly planted (1990s) rose garden with herbaceous areas, yew hedging, a central pool, and four statues, while the north-west quarter is currently (1999) being planned.
The south-east quarter is divided by a newly planted (1990s) pleached hornbeam walk and the north-east quarter planted with old orchard trees in part, new fruit areas in part and an ornamental potager for vegetables.
The walled garden is contemporary with the building of the new hall and stables in the early C18 whilst the internal layout and glasshouses are all of late C20 origin.
The Holt Festival (21-27 July), now in its eleventh year, has invited Paint Out to open this year’s Festival with a two-day Paint Out and Private View (19-20 July) around the charming North Norfolk town. A day-and-a-half of outdoor painting by 25 artists should see 50+ artworks created en plein air ready for a Private View at Picturecraft Gallery on Saturday 20 July with awards announced shortly after 1pm. Saturday also sees an Art Car Boot fair featuring artists such as Colin Self running alongside from 11-5pm
The judges are Robert Upstone, former Senior Curator of 20th Century Art at Tate and Charlotte Crawley who is a Norfolk-based Art Historian. After studying Art History at Cambridge University and The Courtauld Institute in London, she worked for five years at Windsor Castle looking after the Royal Collection of Drawings and Prints. Charlotte recently retired as the Director of the East Anglia Art Fund and serves on the Norfolk Committee of the Art Fund.
“This combination of judges has the unique qualification of having, early in their careers, curated the foremost collections of Canaletto drawings and Turner sketches probably the most famous early Plein Air painters on the planet!” – James Glennie, Holt Festival
Holt is home to 500-year-old Gresham’s School (alumni include WH Auden, Olivia Colman, Benjamin Britten, James Dyson, and the artist Ben Nicholson) and features fine 18th-century Georgian buildings and beautiful surrounding countryside.
The two-day Paint Out will be backed up by a week-long exhibition in Picturecraft of Holt, a gallery and Art material supplier with the winners exhibiting alongside the now well established Holt Art Prize.
Paint Out Norfolk1-7 July 2019 visits Bishop’s Bridge & the Red Lion in Norwich, Wells-next-the-Sea, the Norfolk Broads at How Hill, Houghton Hall, and the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich for art talks, inspiration from Monet and Hockney, socials, judging by George Rowlett & Paul Greenhalgh, awards and private view, public paint out (6 July) and art exhibition (6-7th). Transport to all painting sites available from Norwich.
Paint Out continues its 2019 programme that has included the inaugural Paint Out Cambridge and an ongoing series of five garden paint-outs with a multi-day premier juried painting event that takes in beach and Broads, countryside and campus, and historical buildings from the 1640s through to 1960s brutalism and 1970s modernism. The loan of a Monet and two Hockney paintings are set to inspire, as well as an art talk by Sainsbury Centre director Professor Paul Greenhalgh. A public paint out on the Saturday during the exhibition weekend (6-7 July) will make this open to artists of all abilities alongside the juried entry event 1-5 July being judged by among others, the eminent plein air artist George Rowlett.
Paint Out is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to host Paint Out Norfolk at the Sainsbury Centre – the preeminent Visual Arts Centre in the region housing an incredible collection of art spanning 5000 years of human creativity. Based at the campus of the University of East Anglia, Norman Foster’s vast 1978 hangar – the size of several football pitches, the Sainsbury Centre provides the backdrop to this year’s flagship Paint Out. It will also be the source of inspiration via an art talk and a special opportunity to view an amazing Monet painting ‘Allée de sapins à Varengeville‘ depicting the Normandy coast and two David Hockney artworks upon which artists can reflect as they head out to paint three classic locations around the county.
The mission of this Paint Out will be to raise the critical agenda of en plein air art practice, whatever form that may take, and continue to bring the genre to a wide and increasingly knowing audience. We’ve been working closely with the Director of Exhibitions, Paul Greenhalgh, who will also be a judge at the event, on how best this can be achieved.
First and most importantly, we feel that it’s vital to not only contextualise the relevance of what’s gone before and recognise that this is often the vital starting point for many outdoor artists but also to allow for contemporary interpretation to flood the artist’s consciousness too. In fact, we have espoused experimentation from the outset of Paint Out, since 2014, and actively encourage artists to work outside their comfort zones.
To that end, the Sainsbury Centre has secured the loans of two notorious exponents of plein air: Claude Monet and David Hockney. The 1882 Varengeville coastal scene by Monet has all the hallmark of the Master’s swirling brushmark notation and clear colour.
The two Hockneys, by contrast, are monumental iPad drawings of Yosemite, fizzing with intense Californian reds and greens and varied mark making. Both may seem out of place in the relatively muted English light but this will be the height of the summer and with luck, the opportunity for artists to gorge on fabulous coastal and Broadland sweeps, as well as be let loose within the grounds of one of England’s finest early eighteenth century houses.
In addition to Paul Greenhalgh acting as a competition judge, we are pleased to announce that the well-established plein air artist George Rowlett will be with us acting as a further arbiter of the artworks created. Born on the West Coast of Scotland in 1941, George attended the Camberwell School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. He has work in public and private collections worldwide and is renowned for balancing both large bold impasto paintings and intimate up-close subjects. A description of Rowlett from a 2009 exhibition catalogue may give you an insight into the character who will be viewing your artistic impressions of Norfolk.
“When George Rowlett paints in the open air he is like a man wrestling with his subject. But what looks like a struggle is really an intimate dance. He stands back from the easel, a blade loaded with oil paint in one hand, and begins to shuffle as a boxer might, or an inexpert devotee of tai chi. His eyes and hands seem to be feeling the landscape, his shoulders move with its contours, both arms embrace its forms. Then, with a sudden stab and twist, another glistening slice of paint has been added to the thickening layers of rich impasto on the board before him.” – Robert Hewison
For those able to arrive Monday afternoon 1 July we will have a short welcome and induction in the Paint Out tent at the Sainsbury Centre site followed by an informal paint out at a pub on the river in the city of Norwich, the Red Lion by historic Bishop’s Bridge.
On Tuesday 2 July, we return to our favourite haunt on the Norfolk coast, Wells-next-the-sea which we’ve painted since 2015. Inspired by Monet’s depiction of the 1880s Normandy coast through the trees we’ll be visiting the timeless beach, dunes and pines there.
Wednesday’s trip will be to the beautiful setting of How Hill, the epicentre of The Norfolk Broads with its wide vistas across river and reed fen, plenty of opportunity to capture boats weaving their way up the river, original reed cutting practice, as well as the beautiful setting of How Hill’s Edwardian Garden with its terracing and eccentric layout. We will return for an art talk at the Sainsbury Centre and social.
On the third day, we have secured access to Houghton Hall and its surrounding deer park. This is an opportunity to capture one of the great houses of England and the original seat of the first Prime minister Horace Walpole.
Culminating on Friday morning, a final paint out around the campus and grounds of UEA and the Sainsbury Centre taking in 1640s Earlham Hall, 1960s Denys Lasdun’s Ziggurats, sculptures and lake, before a Private View and awards on Friday night followed by a weekend art exhibition with public paint out on the Saturday.
Transport to all locations available at a subsidised rate of £5/day.
The inaugural Paint Out Cambridge took place this week and saw over 140 paintings created, each in under 3 hours, across the days and early evenings of 13-15 May. Some 30 plein air artists took to the streets of Cambridge painting its classic colleges, beautiful bridges, meandering River Cam and idyllic meadows with cows, geese and swans, the bustling Market Square, canal boats, punts and of course, bicycles, everywhere.
The successful outdoor art event, run in Norfolk since 2014, finally arrived in Cambridge – aided by partnering with Cheffins Fine Art, whose head of paintings, Sarah Flynn, acted as one of the event judges.
Cass Art donated art vouchers for all participants and the three category winners took home £350 each as well as a box of Cass Art supplies. Artist Robert Nelmes won in Oils, Andrew Horrod in Acrylics, and Susanna Field in Watercolours and Mixed Media.
Judge’s honourable mentions and £100 each went to Stephen Johnston, David Wood, and Sarah Allbrook who also sold 5 paintings at the Private View. Dan Llywelyn Hall was noted in dispatches for his imaginative artworks and titling, and the Spirit of Cambridge and £100 went to Alice Thomson for the energy and vibrancy of her illustrative works which also sold well. The paintings were shown at Cheffins Fine Art on Clifton Road until 17 May and a number will be available online at Paint Out Cambridge 2019 gallery.
The artists painted around Cambridge at some of the many locations on this map, taking in ‘town and gown’, the city market and spires, colleges, and countryside on your doorstep that exists along the Backs, greens, ‘pieces’, meadows and fens.
The winning paintings featured Gonville and Caius College (Robert Nelmes), twilight on King’s Parade (Susanna Field), and Portugal Street from Jesus Green (Andrew Horrod).
The judges were allowed their own personal commendations with London artist Alice Hall choosing Stephen Johnston’s ‘View from the Master’s Garden’ at Trinity looking towards Kitchen Bridge, St John’s College. Local artist and writer James Horton selected local Cambridge artist David Wood’s classic watercolour of Westcott House on Jesus Lane. Head of paintings at Cheffins Fine Art, Sarah Flynn – who also judged at the long-running Paint Out Norwich competition last year, chose Cambridge-based artist Sarah Allbrook’s view south on the River Cam from Garret Hostel Bridge.
The Spirit of Cambridge award won by Girton-based artist Alice Thomson featured Magdalene Bridge with its punts, bicycles and the views towards Magdalene College and St Giles (Parish of the Ascension) on the slight hill on the horizon – our hospitable hub for the week of painting.
Paint Out is grateful for the packed turnout at the Private View on Thursday 16 May and warm welcome received in the city of Cambridge, particularly from the council when our artists were massed around the Market on Wednesday. Hopefully, Paint Out Cambridge 2019 will just be our first foray into this fascinating city and see us return, perhaps next year.
We have other art events beginning 26 May through to October scheduled in Norfolk historic gardens, at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, and at the Holt Festival. Artists can enter any or all of these to continue to push and present their plein air practice to interested art lovers with a growing interest in and respect of the plein air painting tradition.
The inaugural Paint Out Cambridge takes place 13-17 May in partnership with Cheffins Fine Art. Dozens of experienced plein air artists used to working on the streets will paint Cambridge’s classic colleges, chapels and beautiful bridges, River Cam, Market Square and other views as seen on this map.
Founded in 2014, the immersive outdoor art event has already run a dozen events across Norfolk and Suffolk and has been keen to come to Cambridge for a while. Partnering with Cheffins Fine Art has finally made this possible and the Paint Out team are excited to be running the competition, encouraging artists to capture and immortalise Cambridge’s iconic views.
Who could resist a city that drew JMW Turner to its banks to paint Clare Hall and King’s College Chapel, whilst also being home to the Fitzwilliam and Kettle’s Yard and a series of famous art collections at several Cambridge colleges?
“Cambridge has long been on our radar but with new partners Cheffins Fine Art now on board, the realisation of a central exhibition venue as well as other potential sponsors lining up to host various parts of the Paint Out, we see this is an event that will have multiple opportunities for artists to paint both town and gown in one of the most vibrant and fast-growing cities in the UK.” – James Colman, founder of Paint Out
Home to the Cambridge School of Art (now part of Anglia Ruskin University) and the Cambridge Drawing Society the team from Paint Out are keen to see local and national artists casting their creative eyes over the city and bringing their art skills to bear in classical and contemporary styles and various media that can be applied to canvas.
“Following the plein air painting event’s success at Paint Out, Norwich, last year, we are excited to support Paint-Out’s inaugural competition in Cambridge. Cambridge has long been an inspiration for artists such as Gwen Raverat, Edwin La Dell and Elisabeth Vellacott and with its iconic and world-recognised architecture and views such as the Mathematical Bridge, King’s College, Rose Crescent and The Backs, we are sure that it will provide endless inspiration for the artists taking part. Plein air painting is an essential part of learning to paint landscape from life and anything to encourage its proliferation within the artistic community is well supported. As the leading fine art auction house in the region, Cheffins is proud to support art events locally and is pleased to support the growth of Paint Out throughout East Anglia.”
The juried painting competition is open to amateur and professional artists alike and features 3-hour and 2-hour painting sessions around the city in full public view during the days and evenings (‘nocturnes’) of 13-15 May. Three eminent judges from the world of fine art (Sarah Flynn, Alice Hall, James Horton) will select the winning pieces with circa £2,000 worth of prizes awarded at the Private View and Awards evening at Cheffins on Clifton Road, on the 16 May (more information email firstname.lastname@example.org). The finished artworks will remain on display until 17 May and typically range in price from £150-£850.
Alice Hall is an en plein air painter focusing on landscapes. When she sets out to paint, she looks more like a vagrant than an artist: Wearing many warming layers of paint-encrusted clothing and carrying a rucksack full with paints, pallets, brushes and much more essential clobber besides. She sets up her impromptu studio and starts to work, first sketching the composition and then building up areas of colour. The aim being to capture character and mood, while being truthful to the subject. “Hall sets out to distill that moment when even the mundane can be magical. As you look at her paintings, you can travel to another land too.” – Rachel Campbell Johnston, Art Critic, The Times
James Horton works continually from life whether at Portraits, landscapes or interiors. Since leaving the Royal College of Art in 1974, the Cambridge based artist has travelled, worked and exhibited on location all over the world. Since 2000, he has concentrated on trips to India, Tuscany, North Africa and Jordan. His plein air work is rarely adjusted back in the studio, preserving the essence of time and place. He has written numerous books including the well known ‘Pastel techniques’ (Chrysalis) and ‘An Introduction to Drawing’ (DK in association with The Royal Academy).
Part-time teacher and artist, Stephen Johnston lives in Norwich and regularly paints with the Norwich Outdoor Painting Group. He first participated at Paint Out Norwich in 2017 and also entered two Paint Out events in 2018. In 2019, he was the only artist to manage all 7 Paint Out Gardens visits around the county of Norfolk across the seasons producing 14 artworks and winning Third Prize at the Awards and Exhibition.
He describes himself as a creative person who gains much satisfaction from producing artwork.
“Being outdoors and in nature’s grip gives me space to be inspired and refreshed. The process is the most important aspect in my journey, I am often dissatisfied with the results but keep the outcome as a record of my observations, aspirations, application, time spent outdoors painting plein air.” – Stephen Johnston