Artist Tor Falcon has followed Norfolk’s rivers from source to sea, tracing her journeys in chalk
Artist Tor Falcon and her new work on Norfolk rivers
There are more than 40 named rivers, streams and becks in Norfolk, some winding many miles from far inland, others mere streams trickling down to the sea. Tor Falcon has followed 38 of Norfolk’s waterways, drawing them as she went.
The four-year project began when a friend asked her to draw his two favourite rivers (the Nar and the Stiffkey) and is culminating in an exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum, and a book.
“I wondered why I had never properly looked at Norfolk’s rivers before,” said Tor. “I had never bothered to wonder about the
stream under the bridge that I crossed, never considered where it had come from or where it was going, never asked its name.”
After drawing parts of the Nar she had an overwhelming urge to follow it downstream. “Handily for me, the Nar Valley Way runs alongside the river all the way to King’s Lynn,” said Tor. “By then I must have Googled ‘rivers of Norfolk’ because I had already found an alphabetical list of names that read like an Old English poem of all things watery and damp. I took myself off to draw the rest of the Nar and then, of course, curiosity got the better of me and I had to draw every other river on my list.
Along the way, the 530-mile way, she discovered waterways she had never heard of and fell in love with stretches of every river she walked and drew.
Which became her favourites? “This is genuinely so difficult to answer,” she said. “The middle reaches of the Wensum are text book pastoral idyll, the Yare downstream of Norwich, as it meanders through its wide boggy valley to Yarmouth, is unique. And the marsh landscape of the combined Bure, Yare and Wensum I found endlessly fascinating.
“The Gadder, tributary of the Wissey, is an exquisite chalk stream running through the dry Brecks. The Thet has a quiet beauty that I loved drawing. It was a pleasure to spend time with the Little Ouse in winter. The Glaven is a beauty. I could go on and on…”
Tor, who lives on the banks of the Blackwater River near Hingham, drew in chalk pastel en route. “I just kept moving and I drew what I found when I got there. I didn’t wait for the sun to come out or for the midday glare to subside. I was in the place NOW and I drew that,” she said.
“The continuous downstream motion of water is a physical force and I found, as I spent more and more time drawing it, that it became irresistible. I couldn’t withstand its pull, and so it was inevitable that I would decide to follow every river on my list and make drawings of them as I went along. Funnily enough, the flow of the river influenced
the intensity of the pull that I felt. I drew the Yare during some big winter floods and the urge to move downstream became almost manic.”
Where possible she walked along each river, but many run through private property. “If I couldn’t get at stretches of river I had to make do with views from bridges or roads.”
Tor, who has previously walked and drawn Peddars Way, has since found even more
rivers, including the Whitewater near Reepham, Camping Beck near Buxton and Starston Beck near Harleston. Perhaps they will become part of another project.
ABOVE: Scarrow Beck at Felbrigg by Tor Falcon
ABOVE: Tor Falcon