Artist India Mae reveals her love for Norfolk and how she ‘couldn’t live anywhere else.’

India Mae Durban in her studio. Picture: India Mae Durban

India Mae Durban in her studio. Picture: India Mae Durban - Credit: Archant

We meet East Anglian atist India Mae Durban.

India Mae Durban on Holkham Beach. Picture: Ryan Borley

India Mae Durban on Holkham Beach. Picture: Ryan Borley - Credit: Archant

India Mae Durban was born and grew up in north Norfolk. She graduated Falmouth University in 2017 with a BA(hons) in Fine Art and after graduating relocated back to Norfolk to continue studying portraiture, using oil paints on her handmade canvases. India has exhibited in Norfolk, Cornwall, Bristol, Chester and Nepal since leaving university. She was also awarded Provisional Member of the Institute of East Anglian Artists in 2019. Here she speaks to Gina Long.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I was born in Norfolk, I grew up here and it shaped my childhood. Walking far away from anyone to make base for the day on Holkham beach, getting lost on family walks in cow fields and star gazing on the trampoline are among some of the special memories. I left Norfolk for university in Falmouth and despite loving everything Cornwall had to offer, it wasn’t where my family were.

Bespeckled I by India Mae Durban

Bespeckled I by India Mae Durban - Credit: Archant

What is your East Anglian Heaven?

The big sky. Despite being specifically a portrait artist, there is nothing I love more than being in the beautiful landscapes and watching the gorgeous sunsets in East Anglia.

What is your East Anglian Hell?

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It takes forever to get anywhere, and as a nervous driver this isn’t ideal!

What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

The Gunton Arms. It’s the kind of place you go to really celebrate with the best food!

What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

Driving up to Holkham beach and watching the sunset over the sea with my partner, Ryan, and my family.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

I adore the Norfolk coast, with Holkham beach being my favourite. Another would be Binham Priory, every time I drive past it, I always say what an incredible place for a wedding.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Latitude Festival, it’s a magical place where the outside world stops and music, art and dance are celebrated, and everyone is in a state of wistful happiness.

What’s your specialist Mastermind subject?

The location of every Free-From product in Tesco’s Free-From aisle!

What is always in your fridge?

Alpro soya yoghurt, mix it with almost anything and it’s a good after-work snack!

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

I’m not sure if it’s a philosophy yet, but it’s a little thing I say to myself when I am scared of taking a risk ‘What if I fall?” “Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

What’s your favourite film?

Dirty Dancing. When I was taking my GCSE’s I had a period of being unwell and I think I watched the film every day for about three weeks… and I still love it.

What was your first job?

I worked at a lovely little woodfired bakery called Husk on Pizza Friday. It is in the idyllic village of Heydon and people would often cycle there and get a pizza from the bakery, a pint from the pub and sit on the green with friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

My camera. It goes everywhere with me. I am a very visual person and I find most of my inspiration for my paintings comes from moments I capture in time or photography rather than other paintings. I keep it on me, so if the right person comes along and the sunlight hits their face right, I can savour the moment in digital form ready to paint.

Who do you admire most?

My parents. They have supported me, encouraged me to grow and given me everything they can to ensure I have a wonderful and fulfilling life doing what I love. They have worked so hard to give me and my brother what we have and I can’t thank them enough for that.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Chocolate. Every time. If it’s there, I’ll eat it.

What do you like about yourself most?

I notice all the little things and none of the blatantly obvious things. On first meeting someone I notice the pores on their face, the freckles on their lips and the specks of colour in their eyes and yet I am most useless at anything that requires an ounce of common sense.

What’s your worst character trait?

I worry about absolutely everything.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

I went to Greece when I was 17 and I have always wanted to return to the gorgeous beaches and amazing barbecues.

Best day of your life?

I’ve not had the ‘getting married’ or ‘having children’ days and so this one’s a little tricky for me. I get little ‘wow’ moments from small perfectly timed snippets of life, like eating chocolate and letting it melt in your mouth, or when a bee lands on you and you get to see it all close-up. I love when white seagulls fly over dark skies and when sunlight comes through trees in stripes.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

My everyday breakfast, gluten-free cornflakes, yoghurt, banana, nuts, blueberries and honey in a huge bowl, it takes me about 20 minutes to eat it all!

What’s your favourite tipple?

Peppermint tea.

What’s your hidden talent?

Finding four-leaf clovers. I once found 25 in a day for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.

When were you most embarrassed?

When I was seven, I went to school with no knickers on… and it was a PE day. I had to keep my tights on under my PE shorts and tell everyone I had a verruca.

What’s your earliest memory?

My family were on holiday in France camping and we pitched up next to a huge tree. Every day me and my brother would stand looking up at the tree and down would fall a box of Smarties for us each. Was Dad stood behind us throwing them up? Or did we find the only Smarties tree in the world? Who knows!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Wings by Birdie.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I play competitive dodgeball in the British National League.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

I honestly think I’m very lucky, I can’t think of a single thing.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.

Norfolk has the biggest skies, the best sunsets, the most beautiful coastline and my family. I couldn’t live anywhere else.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

That I love faces, I love every part of a face that you are told to cover up. The crooked teeth, the birthmarks, the overgrown eyebrows and the scars, wrinkles and freckles. They’re all art and they make the best art. Never hide them. I try to capture beauty and honesty in large, raw oil paintings. If you would like to be a model for one of my paintings then please find more information and my contact details on my website. Absolutely anyone is welcome and I’d love to meet you and discuss your ideas. I also paint commissions of pets, and loved ones, so please just send me an email if you’d like to commission me, I’d be more than happy to chat to you! Website:

Instagram: @indiamaeart

If you are living in Suffolk or Norfolk and have an interesting story to tell, email or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: ginalongmbe