Catfield artist facing exile from Broads

For more than three decades David Dane has promoted the Broads through his atmospheric oil paintings of fenland, rivers, mills and wildlife.

And countless visitors from all over the world have been drawn to Norfolk and Suffolk after falling in love with his work which perfectly captures the ethereal quality of the special landscape.

But the ultimate champion of the Broads has revealed that he may now move his family from their home on the edge of Sutton Fen, near Stalham, to Ireland where artists enjoy tax-free status.

Mr Dane became one of Britain's most popular artists in the 1980s when his paintings were put in print and sold worldwide, and his most successful exhibition at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Ranworth reserve came as recently as 2007.

However, he has since fallen victim to the economic downturn and with commissions drying up he may be forced to sell the family home to meet a �20,000 tax bill.

Mr Dane, who lives in an isolated bungalow at the end of Wood Street, Catfield, with his wife Julia and children William 15, and Miranda, 13, said: 'The Inland Revenue finds it difficult to deal with people like artists who have an irregular and unpredictable income.

'And the problem has been made worse by the way banks reacted to the recession, becoming far less flexible about extending overdraft facilities.'

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Mr Dane has received as much as �7,000 for a single painting and attracted such well-known fans as radio personality Sarah Kennedy, but he conceded the art market was currently 'very quiet'.

His financial predicament partly stems from the sell-out success of his Ranworth exhibition three years ago when he made about �70,000.

He said: 'That put me into a higher income tax bracket for a bit. However, a lot of that money immediately went to the bank to pay off my overdraft.

'Normally by the time the tax bill for an exhibition arrives a year later I would have hoped to have had several commissions, but in the recession the number has dropped to a quarter of what is used to be.'

So having received the �20,000 tax bill - 'the biggest of my life' - he is now contemplating having to leave his house and its views that have provided such inspiration for his work.

Mr Dane, a self-taught artist who grew up in nearby Ludham and started his working life in the village's Hunters Yard, said: 'Until two or three years ago I never had any financial problems. I have gone through my life paying my way.

'My paintings have promoted the Broads all over the world with my most successful print, Romantic Mill, selling hundreds of thousands.

'But now I am wondering, 'can I still afford to live in the place I care for and love.''

Calling for more sympathetic tax regulations, he pointed out the irony of the fact that if he moves to Ireland he will be able to carry on staging his bi-annual exhibitions at Ranworth without paying a penny of tax.

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