The wild beauty of the Norfolk coast, its marsh-beached boats, sunrises reflected across vast expanses of rippled wet sand, glowering seas rolling in after a storm, and purple-suffused dusk skies, are captured in a remarkable new book by Andrew Dibben. RO
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LOOK INTO one of Andrew Dibben’s paintings and you can almost hear the cries of the geese, and the lap of water on rowing boats, feel the rough bark of posts rising from the marshes, and the chill of dusk settling across sand.
Andrew’s work is photographic in its detail, the pinnacles of a church tower, or spikes of river reeds, are sharp against the sky or water; each twig of a tree, feather on a bird, or flake of paint on an old boat or shed, is shown, and the sharp focus ranges right across each glowing landscape, in the same way the human eye picks up both distance and foreground, actual and atmosphere.
Andrew has been painting Norfolk for decades. He works outside in the landscape he is painting, and his latest book, Boats, Beaches and Barns of Norfolk and Suffolk, collects pictures from the past 12 years, created in some of his favourite places. “Among my favourites, I count the beach at Burnham Overy Staithe, which is so remote and vast. A sunset here can be quite an exciting, emotional experience,” said Andrew. “I also love the places where one can see small working boats, such as Sheringham, Brancaster Staithe and King’s Lynn.
“The architecture along the seafront in Cromer is beautiful, and the promenade, beach and pier are wonderful places to stroll
on a summer’s evening, just as the sun sets.”
Andrew, now 67, arrived in Norfolk to study at the Norwich School of Art (Now Norwich University of the Arts) and has lived here ever since – apart from two years in Beccles. “But we could see Norfolk from there – just across the river!” he said.
Last year he moved from Norwich to Gorleston. “We now live in a house with an amazing panoramic view of the river and the sea beyond, and every day we see ships go by, or tie up just opposite our house!”
Before becoming a full-time painter 28 years ago, Andrew was a draughtsman and technical illustrator for Lotus Cars.
His first book of landscape paintings had a foreword by Norma Major, this latest collection is introduced by Ed Balls, who talks of his childhood holidays in Sheringham and his continuing love of the north Norfolk coastline. He says: “The pieces are wonderfully evocative. It’s as though the artist has captured my own memories on his canvas for my later reflection and enjoyment.”
And how did Andrew persuade such political heavyweights to recommend his books? “I just asked! Ed Balls replied in the affirmative, and was delightful to deal with; a thoroughly nice man. I wrote to him via Norwich City Football Club, as he is the chairman. With my first book, Dame Norma Major was lovely; she and John came to see my exhibition in Holt in 2004 (escorted by plain-clothes police), and ended up buying five small paintings!”
Andrew is one of the founder members of the Institute of East Anglian Artists but said: “I have not painted in Norfolk and Suffolk alone, and in fact a Greek farm and a Spanish fishing boat have also found their way into the pages of the new book!”
Alongside the vivid coastal views, he summons heathland at Kelling and Salthouse, and the clamour of the Lynn fishing fleet and modern deep-sea vessels in Yarmouth.
This year Andrew plans to seek out more small wooden fishing boats along the coast, as well as painting more modern maritime scenes in Gorleston and Yarmouth.
Boats, beaches and barns of Norfolk and Suffolk, Watercolour Landscapes by Andrew Dibben, is a large-format hardback, published by Wall Road Publishing, for £30.
Above: Andrew Dibben
Below: The Blue Dinghy, Brancaster Staithe by Andrew Dibben
Above: Pink Cloud in the Pool, Overy Beach, by Andrew Dibben
Below: Cromer Sunset by Andrew Dibben