David Falk, Suffolk County Council’s Green Access manager, looks forward to the Suffolk Walking Festival Fringe, a brand new series of events that get to the very heart of the countryside
This year’s Suffolk Walking Festival has some exciting surprises
I once read an article about the benefits to children of being in the countryside. The start of the article threw me slightly. It said walk was a four-letter word, a word to avoid. Never tell a child we’re going for a walk. Instead, say something else. “Let’s go on a treasure hunt”, “Who wants to see the seals?”, “We must see the view”. It’s the same for many of us. We don’t always want to go for a walk, but once in the countryside we feel so much better. The lure should be something special – a murmuration of starlings, picking wild blackberries, seeing purple heather in late summer. It’s the connection with nature that makes being out and about so special.
And this philosophy is at the heart of the Suffolk Walking Festival Fringe, a series of events that speak of Twilight Safaris, learning poetry in a Labyrinth, and gathering a hedgerow cream tea. And there’s no mention of a walk!
“It was a Praktica. I remember it well”. Phil Morley, Suffolk born and bred professional photographer (www.phil-morley.co.uk), is telling me about his first camera. Phil’s leading a series of Fringe events titled Iconic Images, each one focusing on a special location.
“I remember being the one who took all the family photos on holiday. I was only 13, but my love of photography grew from there. When I got that SLR camera it was built like a brick, not at all like today’s cameras, but I loved it.” Phil has spent a career behind the lens. Working for newspapers, on private commissions and teaching, he enthuses about photography. His most recent commission was a cookbook featuring the county’s top chefs, titled Suffolk Feast. His work is a feast for the eyes.
“My main love is landscapes and my favourite photographer has to be Ansel Adams.” Phil explains how he too shoots on black and white, developing images in a darkroom at home. His three Fringe events lean heavily on this love of landscapes. “With landscapes you need to take time. You need to really look at a scene, slow down and think hard about composition. It’s as much about what’s in the shot as what’s not.”
Phil’s passion for photography extends to teaching at West Suffolk College and running a weekend photo club at his local school, teaching photography to 13-year-olds. Perhaps one of them will become the next Ansel Adams, or even the next Phil Morley?
Iconic Images – Southwold Icons, at Southwold Pier, Sunday May 13. Industrial Heritage, at Mid Suffolk Light Railway, Sunday May 20. Brecks Landscapes, at West Stow Country Park, Saturday May 26. Tickets £15.
BEACHCOMBING FOR BEGINNERS
“I got moved to the States when I was just eight. We lived in Connecticut and I remember being taken to the beach every weekend. It was full of sand dunes. I just loved it.”
Kate (www.beachbonkers.org.uk) has an enthusiasm for beaches that is unparalleled. She exudes energy about the subject, communicating with words, hands and eyes. I love talking with her. “When I came to Suffolk the first place I went was the coast. I wanted dunes again but found shingle. And then I found things in the shingle and was amazed by the treasures amongst all the pebbles.” Kate was the ranger at Landguard Point. Her home was a squat little brick cottage tucked into the shingle beach. It was a perfect location, living amongst the pebbles and the treasures.
“Living and working there I realised, that by slowing down and looking closely, how much there was to see. I found fossils, sharks’ teeth
‘I remember being the one who took all the family photos on holiday. I was only 13, but my love of photography grew from there’
and bones.” We chat about the impact of the recent Blue Planet series.
“Everything is connected,” she says. “What you throw away, so much of it ends up in the ocean. And then it gets washed up. And I find it when I beachcomb.” For Kate beachcombing and beach cleaning are synonymous. “Blue Planet has really raised awareness, but we still need to join the dots up.”
Her favourite finds are sea sponge fossils. “They are everywhere on shingle beaches and what amazes me is that they are 80 million years old. I once found a mammoth tooth, which was very exciting, but the sea sponges are my favourites.” Even a recent trip to Venice saw her seek out beaches. “I’ve beach combed all over the world. I’ll never stop looking.”
Beachcombing for Beginners at Bawdsey, Sundays May 20 and June 3. Tickets £20, includes homemade cake and free parking.
Carole (www.carolemassey.com) has always been an artist. “It was my best subject at school,” she tells me. She went on to study sculpture, pottery and graphic design at St Albans and then at Leicester School of Art. “I had great tutors who were well known artists and they really inspired me.” She worked in London, freelanced, built up her own graphic design business and then started teaching. She’s had six books published, including Drawing for the Absolute Beginner, and Drawing Portraits. Her painting of Sir Charlie Bean, retired deputy governor of the Bank of England, hangs in the Parlour Room at the Bank. Carole came to Suffolk 18 years ago, initially to Bury St Edmunds and now Leiston. “I love Suffolk. There are lots of artists in the area and the county is very sympathetic to art. The visual arts scene is really strong and there is so much music and culture.” She tells me how much she loves Aldeburgh and has been running art courses in a studio there under the title Art in Aldeburgh.
Carole’s Fringe event is an art course at Snape Maltings for artists of all abilities. “There are five different landscapes there – the buildings, the river, reedbeds, trees, and the sculptures. It’s a visually stimulating and interesting area. And then there are the huge skies Suffolk is known for and this lovely coastal light. It’s just so inspirational.”
Suffolk Sketchbook, at Snape Maltings, Tuesday May 15. Tickets £35 including materials, refreshments and lunch in the Concert Hall Restaurant. All festival tickets must be pre-booked. Purchase tickets and see details on all walks and events at www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk
Above, Phil Morley will be running photography workshops
Kate Osborne loves beaches with a passion
Carole Massey will run an art course at Snape Maltings