Productive Norwich painters are keeping positive during pandemic

David Fosh – D.I.Y. Lockdown. Picture: David Fosh

David Fosh – D.I.Y. Lockdown. Picture: David Fosh - Credit: David Fosh

It is a pandemic which is casting a shadow over our lives…but it is also encouraging great talent and friendship to emerge from the clouds. Derek James introduces us to some fine lockdown artists

They are men and women from very different backgrounds brought together by a love of drawing and painting…and they were determined to carry on as the Covid lockdown halted everyday life.

And now they can all be so proud of a new booklet called 20/20 Visions. A Sketchbook from Lockdown.

It was about five years ago when a group of friends got together every two or three weeks for a morning or afternoon’s sketching in and around Norwich.

Founder member of what became known as Sketchat, David Bussey, explained that the activities expanded to include visits to buildings not usually accessible and life classes.

The sessions were often combined with lunch or afternoon tea – a chance to enjoy each other’s work and company.

“When lockdown came in early 2020 we decided to continue online. Every week a subject has been set and the results shared over the internet. For many pf those involved it has become an important point of contact during this difficult period,” said David.

Ann Clancy, Gambling Lambs. Picture: Ann Clancy

Ann Clancy, Gambling Lambs. Picture: Ann Clancy - Credit: Ann Clancy

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“When I first had the idea of continuing Sketchat online I had no idea how popular it would be and the important part it would play in our strangely curtailed lives,” he added.

“It really has brought us together and carried us through difficult times. We would not claim to be a specially talented group and have often surprised ourselves by the quality of what we have done,” said David.

And he recommends others to set up similar groups – it just shows the immense contribution the arts can make on our well-being.

Now the booklet, 20/20 Visions been produced. It is a true work of art and something all the artists can be so proud. 

A selection of 213 original paintings and drawings from 25 members of Sketchat, the online art group in Norwich.

As for the future? A second booklet for 2021, being  made more available. Perhaps an exhibition…and especially meeting up again in person!

Meanwhile they all look forward to enriching their weekly diet of sketching online.


Ann Spurrell. Speed: I’ll show you what speed can do.” Picture: Ann Spurrell

Ann Spurrell. Speed: I’ll show you what speed can do.” Picture: Ann Spurrell - Credit: Ann Spurrell


Some of the artists tell us how Online Sketchat has helped them.

“The weekly art topics during lockdown and the production of the booklet gave me a sense of connection, purpose and above all the whole endeavour gave me a lot to enjoy.”

“Lockdown has, if anything, done us a favour.”

 “This year has been delightful as far as the artwork is concerned; never mind the Covid. Actually, I think it’s been tremendously good for our mental health as well as expanding our range and imaginations. 

"It’s kept us in touch with each other, able to watch how each other’s eyes and brains are working.

“Strangely, despite not physically meeting, I think we know each other better now, and we haven’t felt lonely or cut off during these long months.”

“I found it all thoroughly enjoyable and was interested to see how it stretched me, as I was often attempting subjects I wouldn’t normally have painted if left to my own devices.”

“Sketchat has been, and still is, an enriching and rewarding experience for me. It not only give me a focus each week but also the opportunity to see, and be inspired by, a wide variety of work by  others in the group.”

“We were working in a group and everyone shared their work by email which was very encouraging and beneficial – so much that you could learn and enjoy. I would add that on days when you might be feeling fed-up or anxious about the pandemic it was brilliant to lose yourself in a practical task.”

“It has helped me enormously to endure the long days of lockdown, to have such a rewarding task ready for each week and to share feelings, ideas and visions with each other.”

Copies of the delightful booklet 20/20 Visions A Sketchbook from Lockdown  by The Sketchat Art Group in Norwich group can be obtained for £8, from the City Bookshop at Norwich via www.citybookshopnorwich.co.uk