Inspirational story behind New British Art Gallery in North Creake

Artist Martin Kinnear in his new gallery space, exhibiting his current work The Painted Garden. Pict

Artist Martin Kinnear in his new gallery space, exhibiting his current work The Painted Garden. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A new art gallery has opened in a former village school, with an exhibition described as an autobiography in paint.

The New British Art Gallery on Church Street, North Creake, has been set up by Martin and Jane Kinnear.

'We wanted to create a truly inspirational place in north Norfolk,' said Mr Kinnear, whose own story can only be described as an inspiration.

Its first exhibition, the Painted Garden, was inspired by his recovery from a devastating stroke, which he suffered a little over a decade ago at the age of 34.

It features bold, large-scale oil paintings of the classic brick-walled garden at Shammer House, a Georgian farmhouse near the Creakes, which the couple moved into two years ago.

Mr Kinnear, now 47, said his long road to recovery from the stroke and learning to live with his disability is documented visually in works with titles like Things Change, Everything Felt Possible, and Then Spring Followed Summer.

'Serious illness was a quick road to happiness,' he said. 'Appreciating life seems as fair exchange for almost losing it.'

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Mr Kinnear said he was inspired by the seasonal changes to his garden as the months went by.

'I now realise that in its variety, in its imperfection, in its struggles and in its fleeting triumphs, the garden had become something of a mirror of my own recovery from devaststing illness.'

The works are dedicated to his wife, Jane, in the foreword to the exhibition's catalogue.

Mr Kinnear said: 'Without the unswerving devotion of my life partner and wife, the paintings in this book and indeed the man who made them would not exist.'

The New British Art Gallery, on Church Street, North Creake, is open on Saturdays (10am - 5pm) and Sundays (11am - 4pm).