The first Great Yarmouth Arts Festival began today, aiming to inspire the town towards realising its artistic potential.

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The brainchild of retired surgeon Hugh Sturzaker, from Hobland, near Browston and Gorleston, the festival will run from today until September 22 and began with a free exhibit of work from local and UK artists in The Minster Church of St Nicholas in Church Plain.

Mr Sturzaker, who is also vice chairman of the St Nicholas Preservation Trust, said: “I wanted to bring some good art to Yarmouth and show what we already have here.

“We need to encourage people to participate, in music, literature, poetry, and to learn about the great heritage we have in this town that is not always appreciated.

“People always run down Yarmouth but they do not see what great art we have here.”

By 1pm today there had already been 150 people come through the doors to enjoy the free exhibit.

Geoffrey Lewin, 58, had come all the way from Aylsham with his wife for the beginning of the festival.

Mr Lewin said: “I have found it very interesting, there is a great mix of art, some I did not like but others that I was very intrigued by.

“I think it would be great if Yarmouth had something like this every year, I hope the local people will support the cause.”

Children from local schools created a shimmering metallic tree of herrings, cut from the foil from crisp packets, made under supervision from Matthew Harrison, a local artist who works with disadvantaged children.

This was placed outside and complemented the professional works - all of which are for sale - which filled the church and were a real mix of styles and motives.

Curator of the exhibit was Rebecca Weaver from Suffolk, who was invited by Mr Sturzaker and spoke very highly of the calibre of creation found in Yarmouth.

The curator said: “It is a very mixed exhibition, we have some fantastic pieces from people who have not shown before.

“This is about showcasing the town’s artists, you do not always see this, but it exists.”

The festival will need support if it is to succeed, as it has minimal funding from Norfolk County Council and sponsors.

This evening there will be a concert by Great Yarmouth Brass in the church and on Tuesday there will be a talk on the Great Yarmouth fishing industry in St Paul’s Church Hall at 2pm.

For the full list of events visit http://www.greatyarmouthartsfestival.co.uk

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