Barrington Farm set to celebrate three decades of nurturing “talents and dreams”
PUBLISHED: 18:42 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:31 23 September 2017
A north Norfolk day centre with an international reputation for its work with adults with learning difficulties is celebrating its 30th anniversary next month.
Barrington Farm, at Walcott, was the idea of care home owner Janith Bastow and her art school graduate son Martin, who wanted to provide a creative outlet that would nuture the talents and dreams of their residents.
After buying a 20-acre piece of farmland, the Bastow family set about transforming an Elizabethan barn into an art studio, with cattle sheds turned into social areas, a sensory room and accommodation, and arable land changed to a working organic livestock farm with chickens, sheep and rare breed pigs.
The centre has since gone from strength to strength and now provides day service opportunities for around 50 adults from all over Norwich and north Norfolk.
The ‘Art Barn’ has become well-known for its work with ‘outsider’ artists, some of whom have exhibited at prestigious venues including Tate Britain, Selfridges of London and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Artists also take part in the Norfolk Open Studios scheme each year and, while selling work is not a priority, pieces by well-known Barrington Farm artists such as Barbara Symmons and James Gladwell can fetch up to £1,000.
General manager Teresa Mackenzie put the success of the farm, which is also used by local schools, down to its “unique” atmosphere.
“I think it gives people a chance to grow, lets them develop their potential and allows them the freedom to express themselves,” she said.
Practising artist Sarah Ballard, who has run the Art Barn for 17 years, said that, for many people, visiting the centre had a positive impact on wellbeing and behaviour.
“It can change their whole outlook,” she added. “And, for some of our artists, coming here gives meaning to their lives and they are so incredibly passionate and focused that it is a privilege to watch.”
Staff and service users past and present will be celebrating the centre’s anniversary on October 3 with a 1980s-themed day of talks and demonstrations, as well as a barbecue and art exhibition.
Thanking all those who had contributed to its success, Mrs Mackenzie said: “There is something very special about coming to the farm and the feel of open space and being surrounded by fields and sky all adds to the fantastic atmosphere.”