Learn and create at Alby’s revamped art centre

North Norfolk sculptors Mitchell House and Helen Dixon, who are launching a new series of courses at the newly renamed Alby Arts Centre. Photo: Karen Bethell North Norfolk sculptors Mitchell House and Helen Dixon, who are launching a new series of courses at the newly renamed Alby Arts Centre. Photo: Karen Bethell

Thursday, February 6, 2014
11:00 AM

One of north Norfolk’s longest-standing tourist attractions is gearing up to re-open next month, complete with a new name and a new studio dedicated to creating and teaching art.

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Alby Crafts and Gardens, which was founded by John and Valerie Alston nearly 40 years ago and is now run by the couple’s sons Robert and David, will be re-launched in March under the name of Alby Arts Centre.

The attraction’s popular café will be under new management, with the art gallery also being run by new tenants.

Helen Dixon, who sells beekeeping and pottery supplies from a studio and shop at the centre, said the new name reflected the centre’s focus on art.

“We also felt it had a more contemporary feel,” she added. “And we want Alby to be somewhere where people can come to shop, but where there are always lots of interesting things happening as well.

Ms Dixon, who has been based at the centre for 17 years, has teamed up with fellow sculptor Mitchell House, from Baconsthorpe, to open ‘Learn Create’, a studio aimed at offering pottery, art and sculpture classes to people of all ages and abilities.

The classes will be launched this weekend with a sculpture demonstration by Mr House, who will be working on a portrait head.

Also on offer will be a beginners woodturning course with Alby Arts Centre’s resident bespoke furniture-maker Keverne Dewick, with Ms Dixon on hand to chat to those interested in pottery courses or keen to sign up to help make a swarm of bees sculpture in the centre’s gardens on February 19.

Created in support of the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause scheme, which aims to reverse the decline of Britain’s pollinating insects, the sculpture will feature dozens of clay bees, with more added throughout the year.

Mr House, who has worked on commissions for clients ranging from Bakers and Larners of Holt and Great Ormond Street Hospital, to rock band The Prodigy, is a former art and design lecturer who previously ran courses for adults with learning disabilities at Thornage Hall, near Holt.

“We are hoping to further develop Learn, Create,” he said. “What we want to do is to offer art, sculpture and ceramics classes to all, from beginner, to masterclass.”

Mitchell House will be giving sculpture demonstrations on Saturday from 10am-4pm and on Sunday from 12-3pm. For more information on Learn, Create courses, to find out about woodturning courses with Keverne Dewick, or to help create a bee sculpture with Helen Dixon, visit www.albycrafts.co.uk or phone 01263 761590.

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