Category Archives: art

The light in Aldeburgh

I fell in love with the work of Derek Chambers today – he’s a printmaker based in Suffolk who has done some glorious work in and around Aldeburgh that, for me, captures the peculiar light and atmosphere of the place.

The Crag Path, Aldeburgh by Derek Chambers

He was a london ad man for 40 years before moving to the country and concentrating on drawing, painting and printmaking in 1994. He doesn’t seem to have his own website but can be found through the Sudbourne Printmakers, a group of prominent East Anglian artists.

Aldeburgh town steps by Derek ChambersExhibitions include: The Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions, The Royal Watercolour Society, The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, The Discerning Eye, The Singer & Friedlander, The National Print Exhibition, and the New English Art Club.

Steps in winter by Derek ChambersI look forward to observational drawing being the next big thing coming out of art schools, but somehow it never seems to happen. I love how this winter scene looks like an illustration from a childrens book – you can imagine it as the first page of a story about the woman and her dog going home through the snowy evening. What do they find when they get there?

You can’t be an artist in Aldeburgh without doing fishing boats on the beach. Brrrr.

Boats in winter by Derek Chambers

View and buy Derek Chambers’ work thorough the Sudbourne Park Printmakers.
NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Full of festivals

Secret Garden Party Pirate Ship

It struck me today that Cambridge, in particular, overflows with festivals. Whatever your hyperspecialised desire, there is probably a festival that will include it in this town. I just got an email from the Food and Drink festival about their fundraising quiz, where you go and drink wine and eat cheese and try and answer insanely specialist food and drink questions in one of the beautiful medieval college halls. Worth doing it for the architecture alone, which is frankly wasted on undergraduates.

The image above of dawn breaking over a pirate ship is from the Secret Garden Party. It’s a kind of English-country-house-themed tiny Burning Man, part music festival, part theatre event that takes place over four days in the grounds of a Georgian country house outside the city.

The University culture means that more cerebral festivals are strong – we’re having a Darwin Festival in July to celebrate the anniversary, and there is always the Festival of Ideas in November, to mop up anything intelligent that hasn’t been covered to death earlier in the year. Also the science festival starts this weekend under the auspices of the university, which deliciously has guidance on some events “Warning, loud bangs”. And for grown ups we can “join the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, Professor David Spiegelhalter as he discusses ‘Statistics: can we sex them up without dumbing them down’. ” Telephone booking is now open.

A particular favourite is the Shakespeare festival – it takes place in July in various college gardens, and is again worth it as much for the architecture as the acting, although the standard is fairly high.

Edit: I forgot Cambridge Word Fest, which is booking now for April with a cornucopia of literary events and workshops.

Then there is of course all the music, so much music. The Folk festival, the Summer Music festival, the Rock fest (in association with a beer festival, naturally) and on. Put out more flags, it’s going to be a beautiful year.

folk-festival-imagesImages of the Folk festival by Arkadyevna on Flickr
If I’ve left any out of my list please do let me know.
Science Festival 9-22nd March – Science fun for adults and families
Cambridge Word Fest 23-26th April – Book events and writing workshops for all genres
Cambridge Super8 Festival 29th April – 2nd May
Cambridge Beer Festival 18-23rd May – Real Ale drinking
Strawberry Fair 6th June – Free festival of music, theatre, arts and crafts
Cambridge Comedy Festival 8-14th June – Live Comedy
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival June-July dates TBC  – open air shakespeare in college gardens
Pink Festival 09 date TBC – Gay open air music festival
Darwin Festival 5th – 10th July – philosophy, literature, history, theology art and music arising from the life of Darwin
Cambridge Fringe Festival 16 July – 2nd Aug – open access performance
Cambridge Summer Music Festival 17 July – 8th Aug 09 – world class classical music
Secret Garden Party 23rd – 26th July – music theatre performance camping
Cambridge Folk Festival 30th July – 2nd August 09 – world class folk music
Cambridge Rock Festival 6-9th August – Rawk and Beer
Cambridge Film Festival 17-27th September 09 (submissions open 1st March)
Festival of Ideas 21st Oct – 3rd Nov – explore more about the society we live in
Cambridge Music Festival 8-29th Nov – Serious classical music trienniale, commissions new work
flags_and_skyNB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

China China China!!!

The three exclamation points are all theirs. The China China China!!! exhibition is Chinese contemporary art at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

wang yu yang artificial moonIt aims to be a wide ranging survey of the genre, or in their own words “Reflecting different perspectives on current art practice in China, the exhibition is organised into three sections – within which each curator explores the global market for Chinese art by selecting artists who are not bound by the market’s rules, but who represent the complex reality of a modern China.”

Not speaking contemporary-art-ese, I can only say that Wang Yu Yang’s Artificial Moon pictured above is a large, hypnotic ball of a thousand low energy light bulbs, and Art Chicken in Norwich by Duan Jianyu (below) does exactly what it says in the title.


The exhibition runs until 3rd May
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

University of East Anglia
T 01603 593199

Opening Times:
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm
Wednesday 10am-8pm
NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Wysing Contemporary

Wysing Arts Centre is opening a new exhibition this weekend under the Wysing Contemporary banner, with a launch event on Saturday from 4pm with Matthew Slotover, director of the Frieze Art Fair. Greatness comes to the countryside!

Wysing ContemporaryWysing is interesting because it is one of these architecturally ambitious buildings tucked deep in the countryside, which functions mainly as studios for artists rather than being an exhibition space first. Wysing Contemporary is “[their] approach to the collection and sale of contemporary visual art. It is a brand new initiative for Wysing Arts Centre, with three exhibitions per year and an ongoing series of events around collecting contemporary art.”  

They aim to present some of the most interesting work being made in the East of England, on a non-profit basis, and see the exhibitions as part of their remit of nurturing artistic talent. Could be great, could be terrible, I’ll be interested to find out.

The building itself is surely worth a look too. Opened in Jan 08, it won a RIBA award. RIBA apparently said of it “The first view of Wysing Arts Centre approaching from Bourn is stunning, demonstrating in an instant that the architects have fulfilled the client brief to produce a ‘serious building’ and to raise the profile of the Arts Centre. Simple construction, natural ventilation, use of natural daylight and thoughtful detailing all contribute to a building which is direct and sophisticated. The black, ordered rectilinear elevation has the simplicity of a Dutch barn but the sophistication of a more complex building. Stunning architecture in the most unexpected location.”

The architects Hawkins/Brown have a nice page of pictures of  it.

Wysing building


ANIMATED runs Sunday 18 January – Sunday 1 March. Wysing is open every day from 12-5pm. Admission Free.

The centre is between Cambridge and Royston – they have a helpful find us page on their website.

Christmas shopping

If you are anything like me, you have sorted out all the easy christmas presents and are worrying about the last few people who are impossible to buy for or you don’t know well. After a panicked saturday afternoon wandering round Cambridge in the freezing rain looking for inspiration that never came, I decided that buying something local and handmade will never go amiss. I’ve had a look round local makers who are selling over the internet and rounded up some of the best pieces in a couple of sensible price brackets.

Credit crunch christmas, under £20

For the woman who has everything, including a tidy handbag:

Silver leaf keyring by Romilly Norman in Ipswich, £19



For the teenage girl you’ve never met who is coming for christmas day:

Peacock photogram by Heidi Burton

Peacock photogram by Heidi Burton  in Cambridge, £5


For people who like to age their bills on the fridge:

Hand screen printed magnets by Summersville in Suffolk, £5.95


For baby’s first christmas:

Hand knitted baby slippers by Willo in Cambridge £12


£20 – £50

You can’t go wrong with a beautiful bowl:

helen_brown_bowlBlackbird bowl by Helen Brown at the Suffolk Craft Society, £38


For modern mermaids:

mermaid_pendant_coryvreckanInspired by a piece of bladderwrack picked up on Southwold beach, seaweed pendant by Corryvreckan, £26


For the cosy and house proud, St Judes screen print artist-designed fabrics, and make up lovely cushion covers:

stjudes_cushion_coversSt Judes cushion covers, £32 each. Also check out their printed notebooks and cosy woolen throws.


For those who appreciate stark winter beauty, this tiny etching:chrissy_norman_winter_willowsWinter willows at Dedham, by Chrissy Norman, who is based in Trimley St Mary in Suffolk, £55


Disclaimer: the local and handmade thing doesn’t work on teenage boys at all. Except for local beers for the later teen years. Or after – what man (apart from my husband) would appreciate socks over hand brewed beer?

Hidden Art in Cambridge


The entrance to Kettles Yard.

Kettle’s Yard looks like a nice modern gallery from the street. They generally have interesting art exhibitions, and the quality of light is the gallery is lovely. So far so good, an ornament to Cambridge.

A while back, after visiting, I followed a sign out the back to the house at Kettles Yard, and fell down a rabbithole into somewhere extraordinary. 

Like all the best private houses turned museums, you have to knock at the door, and a kindly little old lady opens and settles you in, pops your bag in a cupboard and invites you to wander wherever you like, sit in the chairs, read the books. Then you are let loose into this lovely place. Originally four cottages, they were knocked together in the fifties to make one large house, open yet higgledy piggledy, full of light and wonderful objects.

The atmosphere is comfortable but informal. People really do sit in the comfortable armchairs and read, wander and chat. There are concerts there, the occasional talk. I left wanting to know more about who had put together such a wonderful home and then offered it up to the university.

It turns out Jim Ede trained as a painter and became assistant curator at the Tate in the 1930’s. He championed modern art, got to know everyone in the field, visited Brancusi’s studio in Paris, was a key part of it all. He became dissillusioned with the conservatism of management and about 1936 moved to Tangiers, where he built an early minimalist house, travelled a lot with his wife and continued to collect his favourite painters.

In 1956 he and Helen moved back to Cambridge, where he had grown up, and converted the houses and filled them with art and interesting objects. They ran an open house every afternoon, so people could knock on the door and he’d show them round (legend has it he even lent paintings for students to hang in their rooms during term time). Eventually they gave the house and its contents to the University of Cambridge, so that people could continue to enjoy it long after they were gone, and moved on to Edinburgh to start the next stage of their lives.

The upshot is that this warm and welcoming space is still open, up the only hill in Cambridge, and it’s a perfect place to spend some time of an afternoon – being surrounded by so much beauty must be good for the soul. Artists represented include Ben Nicholson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi and Joan Miró, but that is only selected highlights.

Another nice thing is the natural objects – a basket of rounded pebbles arranged as a gradient from grey to white, the wooden cider press screw that is several hundred years old and reads as a perfect plinth, a magnifying lens hanging in front of the house plants.

Go seek out this quiet gem. Knock on the door any afternoon except Mondays.

Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ UK

telephone: +44 (0)1223 352124


Pebble Spiral Kettle's Yard
Magnifying lens


Museum entrance by Andy Field
Museum interiors from Kettle’s Yard website   
Spiral of Pebbles by Ayres no graces   
Lens photograph by Major Clanger   

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.