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Collaborate Installation

This morning we installed the final Collaborate pieces created by our Collaborators.


Our Collaborators have been inspired by many different strands of the Rural Lives theme – the portraits, what it means to live in a rural area, J.A. Mortram’s contemporary photos and the historic photos in the Rural Lives exhibition.

Thankyou very much to all of the contributors for creating their wonderful pieces – from poetry to paintings, sculptures to stitched works. We hope that you will come and see their work within the Rural Lives exhibition in the Collections Gallery at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, on display until Sunday 29th October 2017.

Guardian of the Soil and the Caretaker of Rural Traditions


Hannah Jackson was greatly inspired by meeting the Rural Lives exhibition photographer J A Mortram at the Collaborate Inspiration Day.

A comment that he made relating to his own personal situation remained with me after the day. He asked “who cares for the carers?”. I wanted to acknowledge the work of this invisible sector of our society, who have to persevere to a greater extent when also rurally isolated.


This textile doll is the Guardian of the Soil and the Caretaker of Rural Traditions, envisaged as a Scarecrow or – more appropriately – a Mawkin. The figure is modelled on a 90-year old neighbour ‘UP’. ‘UP’ is a full time carer for his housebound wife, who spends his days recording his memories of a Norfolk life in a series of articles that he shares with anyone who shows an interest.

Self-taught herbalist, engineer, gardener, mardler, tinker, morse expert, radio-ham enthusiast and photographer, he is fascinated by the life that enters into his small part of the world. As a carer, he increasingly finds he is isolated, on the margins of society, just as the Mawkin stands alone keeping a watch over the fields.

Hannah’s doll will be on display within the Collaborate with Gressenhall installation within the Rural Lives exhibition between Friday 20th to Sunday 29th October.

Portraits by Mary Thatcher

Self portrait by Mary Thatcher

Self portrait by Mary Thatcher

‘I am an Artist working and living in North Norfolk, exhibiting my work and running Life drawing/painting days and Portraiture classes.

Last October I was invited to become a provisional member of the Institute of East Anglian Artists, which represent both established and Up and – coming Artists from the area.

Having lived in Croxton Hamlet near Fulmodeston for the past 27 years I have got to know most of the people in my community and when a model was needed for the portraiture class I would ask someone from the village.

Over the past six years my work and interest has moved away from landscape and towards portraiture. I began to paint and draw the people from the hamlet and surrounding villages of Barney, Great Snoring and Great Ryburgh.

Last year I decided to embark on a project of painting and drawing all the people in Croxton Hamlet. I work on this project when I can but especially when people are happy to sit for me. The finished portraits are worked from life or sometimes a mixture of photographs and sketches. I hope my work portrays the villagers stories.’

Adrian Vaughan by Mary Thatcher

Adrian Vaughan, Writer and Historian by Mary Thatcher


Sophie by Mary Thatcher

Sophie by Mary Thatcher

Visiting Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

We enjoyed sharing our basket collections with this Withy Arts group, they’ve been busy making their own baskets which will be on display in October.

Withy Arts

The Tuesday and Wednesday groups met at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum today when we visited to see the basket collection.

We put on our latex gloves and handled the baskets.

fishing box

This one is probably a fishing basket.

Rachel and Peter

Peter and Rachel having a look at very small bike basket.

Lauren and Megan the museum curators showed us the collection and explained about the baskets. The tools that were used in the past and the same ones we use today.


This lovely case that Liz is holding is made from woven straw.

We had a proper look at a bee skep and tried to work out how it was stitched together.

And then we looked at the photos from the collection of basket makers from the local area.


We even did a bit of al fresco weaving after a lovely lunch at the cafe.

al fresco weaving

Altogether a really enjoyable day!

Many thanks…

View original post 17 more words

Poetry in motion

One of our collaborators has shared with us her work in progress inspired by the photographs in the Rural Lives exhibition and Jim Mortram’s presentation to us on the Inspiration Day. Thankyou Heather, we think it’s brilliant and can’t wait to see what else you come up with!

Heather Ryder 2

Acting as if I have no care

when you shout abuse or just

stop and stare. Hardened to

your ignorance, all you can do

is take the piss. Are your eyes

to blind to see the torture

within the shell of me?

Perhaps you don’t like

the shape of my face

or the colour

of the skin

I’m in.

I may lack style

and grace when staggering around

the market place thinking I

am a lady’s man as I hold onto

a half empty

beer can.

How about the angle of

my limbs? My stature? My poise?

Or the way I make

a lot of noise around your

rural town.

Never taking time to see the

person on the inside

of me. I’ve known your

kind and worse

so don’t go thinking

you’re the first.

By Heather RyderHeather Ryder



Create Inspiration – the future of Rural Lives

Continuing with the round up of the Collaborate Inspiration Day…


We thought about rural lives today and how they might change in the future. We all worked together on a collaborate collage, cutting up magazines, sticking down pictures, adding words and sketches thinking about the future of farming, house building, developments and wildlife. What do you think rural lives will look like in the future?


Lastly we rounded up the day with some mindful walking around the site. We were inspired by trees in the orchard, the horses on the farm and seed packets in the Seed Merchants shop.

Create Inspiration

Continuing with the round up of the Collaborate Inspiration Day…

After a delicious lunch where we were able to chat and reflect on what we had seen and heard this morning we started to think creatively. We took inspiration from the past, present and the future.



First we used some of the old photographs in the Rural Lives exhibition and thought about the lives of some of the people featured. Using speech and thought bubbles we gave voices to these historic photographs. We imagined what these people were thinking and feeling. We turned them into characters. This could be the start of a story or poem, any creative writers out there?

Create Inspiration button pictureCreate Inspiration Rhubarb pictureCreate Inspiration dog picture


Thoughts on the Inspiration Day

Thankyou to Sarah who joined us on the Inspiration Day for sharing her thoughts on the day.

It was an interesting and thought provoking day.  I enjoyed being challenged by the photo exhibition and it’s extension into Jim Mortrams ‘a Small Town Inertia’ photos and the life accounts he retold. I have reflected on this ever since and am struck by how it speaks of mis communication and lost opportunities.  Empathic people, available solutions and imaginative social enterprise do exist but so often the people who would most benefit fail to benefit.

Looking at the old photos showed on the other hand how crucial being able to do physical work was, these opportunities are so much less available now.

These are themes I have been thinking about :

  • importance of social connection,
  • self respect through skill development e.g. gardening, crafts and agriculture,
  • avoidance of destitution in pre benefits days

Where all this pondering leads in terms of producing work is another matter!

A tithe map of Gressenhall might be interesting to look at comparisons of housing in the past and present – home ownership, occupations of tenants etc.

The collections were easier to identify ways to produce work related to the different categories. I do already have some work inspired by early singer machines and memorabilia from my grand mothers sewing box.

The clothing of those in the photos was perhaps a good source to work on, waistcoats perhaps … they were worn by labourers, for Sunday best, and also by the gentry.

A few thoughts,  nothing very definite but I intend to continue to reflect and hope to come up with something meaningful to work on.

Many thanks to all involved in putting on such and enjoyable day – including providing the excellent lunch.

Sarah Rockliff grandmothers sewing box