A couple of day’s after the event (I was really tired when it finished), here is my account of the final day of the Paint Out Norfolk 2020 event. The painting locations for the last day were narrowed to the vicinity of the exhibition marquee at Whitlingham Country Park, with a further restriction of a 2pm deadline to allow for exhibition curation and judging in the afternoon and early evening.
A couple of us headed off past the suggested nearby Colman-family model village of Trowse, to the industrial area beyond the river Yare, where I scouted around the ‘Tarmac Trowse Asphalt Plant’ and spotted some abandoned shopping trolleys up an adjacent track. I thought I might find an interesting composition by conflating the metal gridwork of the trolleys with the girdered and gantried construction elements of the works.
No sooner had I made a commitment to this plan of action, made an initial sketch and commenced the actual painting, than a rather taut woman with a pair of slightly ferel looking dogs strode into view. She enthusiastically engaged me in conversation whilst her dogs enthusiastically clambered all over me. She apologised profusely for the ‘mess’ saying she didn’t realise there were going to be some artists around. I tried to explain that it was just what I was looking for. She then strode off and I continued with the painting.
A short time later, the woman reappeared to lay claim to the main trolley plus sundry metal work. She then marched off with them, conveying it all to the nearby roadside and thence to a waiting scrap man, whilst one of her dogs plonked itself on my lap, insouciantly surveying my artwork. After a great deal of loud bargaining, the woman reappeared, evidently not happy with the outcome of the barter. I wasn’t entirely happy either as my drawing was only semi-constructed, but in a way this mirrored the abandoned feel of dereliction that pervaded the area, as well as the trolleys themselves.
By now it was approaching 2pm so I gathered myself up, along with dispersed painting kit, left the slightly surreal scene and returned my piece to the exhibition site. I then spent the afternoon talking with the other gathered artists, event organisers and exhibition visitors whilst we awaited the pronouncements of the judges – curator Amanda Geitner (of the East Anglia Art Fund), artist Bruer Tidman and Sarah Flynn (of Sworders Auctioneers).
At length the attendant crowd of visitors and artists were gathered in front of the marquee to hear what the judges had decided. Having enjoyed a week of fine weather, beautiful countryside and like-minded companionship I would have been satisfied with those experiences alone. Then, much to my surprise and delight at the conclusion of the event, I was called forward to accept first prize (Competition Winner)! I had been a bit daunted by the prospect of a late evening journey back to my Nottinghamshire home, but was now buoyed up with this good fortune.