100 artworks in 100 days: Artist's challenge to help farming mental health charity
PUBLISHED: 16:18 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 22 July 2019
The East Anglian countryside will provide a poignant palette for an artist's bid to complete 100 illustrations in 100 days to help a farming mental health charity.
Kate Batchelor, from Kessingland near Lowestoft, has begun her creative challenge to raise money and awareness for The YANA (You Are Not Alone) Project, which offers confidential support to farmers and rural communities across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The artist first found her passion for drawing while growing up on a farm at Weston, near Beccles, and said she was very aware of the "enormous pressures" facing farmers, and the stresses of life on the land. It has inspired her choice of subject matter, and the charity which will benefit from it.
"As I come from a farming family I know it can be difficult working on your own and being isolated in the countryside, so this is a very good charity to be working for," she said. "We want to raise as much money as possible, but it is just as important to raise awareness.
"One of the key things about farmers is that they work on their own. They are quite brave people and quite proud, and they don't like to show 'weaknesses'. If this helps people come forward and seek help, I think that's really important."
Mrs Batchelor studied art at Lowestoft College before specialising in wildlife illustration at the Dyfed College of Art, later adding a fine art degree at the Norwich University of the Arts.
For her 100-day challenge, she will make preliminary sketches and take photographs in rural locations, which will be turned into "expressive drawings" in her studio using oil pastel and chinagraph pencils the same day. The finished illustrations will later be framed, exhibited and sold to raise money, as well as featuring in a book.
"The main framework is going to be contemporary farming, but we are also going to have more traditional aspects, like a farrier or cutting straw for thatching, and obviously cattle and landscapes," she said. "But there are also going to be more poignant views as well, reflecting the aims of the project - so maybe the occasional solitary person in the landscape to show the beauty of wildlife and the countryside, but also the harshness."
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The artist's first scene featured 84-year-old gamekeeper Arthur "Nuddy" Nudd, sitting by the river at the Keswick home of Lady Philippa Dannatt - another passionate supporter of the YANA charity.
Lady Dannatt is a professional counsellor who is due to become Norfolk's Lord Lieutenant in August, and who championed mental health issues during her year as High Sheriff of Norfolk in 2014-15.
"It seems to me there is almost an epidemic of suicides among young men - that's not just within the farming community, but it is certainly happening in farming," she said. "I think it is very important to raise awareness and that people can talk about mental health as much as they would talk about their new hip or their arthritic whatever. It is so important, and I can think of no better way of doing this than through art."
Mr Nudd said he was also very pleased to be helping with the charitable effort to help farmers' mental health. "They are under so much pressure and they are on their own a lot of the time, getting an internal build-up," he said. "When they go home at the end of a very long day they often have very little rest and you get an accumulation of all these things. It wrecks a family."
- For more information on YANA's mental health support and counselling see the YANA website or contact the confidential helpline on 0300 323 0400.