Artist Tor Fal­con has fol­lowed Nor­folk’s rivers from source to sea, trac­ing her jour­neys in chalk

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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

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