Friday 14 October 2016

Upcycling in the Norfolk Broads

Being creative is for me a very important pursuit, and it can of course be expressed in a variety of ways. My usual want is to paint onto paper, canvas, board or other flat surface. This has been a mainstay of my artistic approach for some time.

Now, arriving at Breathing Space, a bed and breakfast and women's retreat near Hickling Broad, run by Mags, with a great team of people, I would be given the chance to expand my creativity in a new direction, being inspired greatly by all the people there.

Heath Priory's re-worked sign

I was excited to arrive at Heath Priory, and to meet Mags and all the wonderful people in and around the site, over the next 2 weeks, and I would be inspired by their ideas, presence and their general attitude to create a variety of new and useful objects. Arriving in Maude may have been a slight shock though...Maude is slightly bigger than an average campervan, though small for a Motorhome...I must remember to give people more warning...though she did (just) between the trees down the drive, I think I gave people there a little surprise...where to put her!?!?

Settled in eventually, and with materials that could be found in and around the work space, I would be brought out of my comfort zone, into the world of upcycling old, and previously used objects.

My first task was to re-paint the Heath Priory sign, and bring it more to the attention of passing motorists. I was inspired to paint a dragonfly on the sign - a symbol of transformation, the dragonfly being a creature of two worlds - born in water, it will end its life in the air. Encouraged by one of Breathing Space's people, Daphne, and her ideas for bringing attention to the sign, with the use of colour, I quickly found some sequines, which would catch the light, and help attract the eye.

Heath Priory sign in its new place

As well as the energy and vitality of the people I was meeting at Breathing Space, there was of course also the air and surroundings of my home county, and the Norfolk Broads have always been a wonder to me, as I am often drawn to water in one shape or form. I find the quality of the Broads to be extremelyt relaxing in nature, and its huge skies and serene landscape helps me be at ease

Hickling Broad

Sunset near Stalham

Confidence building, I was next tasked with making a sign for the washroom, and to remind (gently of course, with the addition of a subtle smiley face, rather than a harsher pointy finger!) to keep things tidy. After scanning the area, I came across some old skirting board, which was ideal for sign making. I would be able to use my pen and ink style and with

Sign for the washroom

And in its final position

Sign up, it was swiftly onto the next, not so straight-forward of tasks. Shoes...these are of course needed, and having the external washroom, and needing to keep it clean and tidy, the removal of said shoes was a must. Now...what if it rains...

Need for a shoe shelter.

Another wander around manifested some old slats of wood, nails, and a shoe lace, and with Spencer's timely finding of a naturally shaped off-cut of wood, this inspired the roof of the shelter...with some holes drilled in both the slats and the off-cut, I soon had the makings of a roof!

One tied on wood shoe!

Tricky construction

The next stage I found more tricky...and this would see me giving it 3 attempts before I got the construction right, but eventually the frame of the shelter was created with some more found material, and attached to the roof. It only remained to give the frame a couple of coats of paint, and it was ready. The shoes could now be well and truly sheltered out of the rain.

Completed shoe shelter

It was then back to sign making (I was getting a bit more comfortable again...signs felt safer)! This time a sign for the "Flower Room" was required. More scanning around, and the odd scratch of the head, and the continuous concentration wrinkles appearing on my forehead as I wandered back and forward, coming back to scribble on paper, or listen to people chat, and have ideas, or point things out. The - voila! Candle holders...of pink and green and old watering can head, and an old blue button...then some ties and...a Flower Room sign

Old candle holder finding a new purpose

Flower Room sign in all its glory

And then the "French Room", which Mags had asked for me to make a touch glitzy...I had just the thing in mind for that of course, after the road sign, so...

From design to creation...

re-enter sequines...with off-cuts of wood I had been using, and a touch of paint and hey presto! I had the Eiffel Tower caught in this tribute to gay Paris!

Ready to go...

I had been finding this environment wonderfully creative, and enjoying my stay immensely. With the company and friendship of Mags, Josie, Paulina, Donna and Spencer, and everyone at Breathing Space, I had found a different outlet for my creative endeavours, and I hope to return here again soon.

Winterton-on-Sea, near Hickling Broad, Norfolk

It had been a magical first visit, and as the final snapshot showed, had filled me with joy!

Sums it up really


  1. David you are certainly having a wonderful time. Enjoyed reading all you many colourful tasks. Keep sending your news. Where is Maude whilst yu are cycling the Broads. Much love

    1. I stayed in Maude Mary... she's doing me proud! Hope you're well. Love David x

  2. Liked the French Room signpost! have a wonderful journey