Swaffham arts festival is best ever, says chairman

Swaffham Visual Arts Festival preview at the Assembly Rooms, LtoR, Gillian Shephard, Malcolm Whittley (artist), Stpehen Ward (Chairman SVA), they are with some of Malcolm's work.'(The event was opened by Gillian Shephard) ANL-141026-122811009
Swaffham Visual Arts Festival preview at the Assembly Rooms, LtoR, Gillian Shephard, Malcolm Whittley (artist), Stpehen Ward (Chairman SVA), they are with some of Malcolm's work.'(The event was opened by Gillian Shephard) ANL-141026-122811009

Organisers of Swaffham’s annual Visual Arts Festival have hailed this year’s event as the best yet after it closed at the weekend.

More than 200 exhibits were displayed for the festival sale, which was opened by former MP Baroness Shephard of Northwold on Friday night.

And officials estimate that up to £5,000 has been raised for good causes supported by the town’s Rotary Club, which stages the event.

Festival committee chairman Stephen Ward said: “In terms of quality and sales, I think it’s the best we have ever done.”

A total of 221 exhibits, ranging from watercolour and oil paintings to ceramics and sculptures were on show at the Assembly Rooms during the weekend.

And, for the first time, the festival, which is in its 19th year, also included sculpture at the Manor Garm surgery.

As well as the exhibition, the festival included talks by wildlife photographer Chris Knights and a lunchtime lecture by embroiderer and textile artist, Stephanie Gilbert.

There was also a lecture by Dr Sarah Pearson, of Cambridge University and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies, on the country house and its church, which was held at Cockley Cley Hall.

Sir Samuel Roberts, the hall’s owner, sponsored the event.

Mr Ward, who is stepping down as chairman although he will remain on the committee, thanked his committee colleagues - Sue and Malcolm Whittley, Claire Dunne, David Morris and Neville Robinson, for their support.

Over the years, the festival has raised more than £80,000 for local, national and international good causes which the Rotary club supports.

And Mr Ward added: “Every year the Festival has grown in content and popularity. West Norfolk is rich in artists and craftsmen and we aim to reflect and showcase this wealth of talent, professional and amateur.”