I can't travel across England right now ... although I am quite happy to be stuck by the sea in Devon, where I can make my way to the South West Coastal Path from my door. I can also discover the world further afield through my artwork and last month I decided to head east and explored Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
I have spent a few holidays in Norfolk, a lovely long weekend stay from Sheffield and Nottingham, two cities where I have spent most of my life. I love the contrast of the beautiful, flat land of north Norfolk dotted with windmills and the old-fashioned charm of coastal towns such as Cromer and Great Yarmouth. The North Sea is teeming with life .. grey seals at Blakeney Point, crab at Cromer and samphire further down the coast. The Norfolk Broads are a mesh of waterways and full of bird life and boats.
I discovered to my horror that I have never been to Suffolk and it is in fact the only county I have never visited in England. So I've yet to wander through the beautiful coastal towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh. The traditional, timber framed cottages of Lavenham, Eye and Kersey have escaped me. In my vision of Suffolk, windmills turn their sails and birds and bees buzz around the marshes at Minsmere as well as the bleak but beautiful Orford Ness.
I didn't realise how lovely Essex was until I looked into its charming countryside, where you can find some unique and stunning architecture, such as the warehouse at Battlesbridge, the castle at Colchester and the windmill at Burnham on Crouch. I like to draw the ugly as well as the beautiful and so Tilbury Docks, Canvey Island and a modernist block of flats at Basildon make my cut. It's the combination of contemporary culture and ancient landmarks that make a place so fascinating. The piers at Southend and Clacton, reach ambitiously out into the sea, in which swim seals and some brave souls, who look quite pale because the sea is ... freezing!
I created a new colour palette to draw the East of England, which I've named after British art hero Grayson Perry, who hails from this region. The powder blue sea, coral pink and yellow warmth and royal blue outline remind me of the colours that he uses frequently in his art, including a drawing of a motorbike that he created, and my old company BIDBI printed onto a tote bag for his exhibition at the British Museum a few years ago.