Bad weather doesn’t deter visitors to Cromer and Sheringham Arts Festival

Culture lovers fought their way through the wind and rain to enjoy the opening days of a week-long festival of art, literature and music on the north Norfolk coast.

The Cromer and Sheringham Arts Festival, dubbed Coast 2012, officially got under way at the weekend with a wide variety of well attended events.

An exhibition of original postcard art by members of the North Norfolk Organisation for Visual Artists (NOVA) took place inside tiny beach huts on Cromer seafront. Huddled inside chalet numbers 53 and 54, NOVA artists helped visitors of all ages create their own postcards with the raging sea outside for inspiration.

Simon Marshall and Julia Cameron travelled to the event from Norwich with their daughter Isabel Marshall, aged eight, who was making a postcard.

Miss Cameron said: 'You know the weather is going to be bad in Cromer at this time of year but it would take more than a bit of bad weather to put us off. It was nice this morning heading out to the coast when all the cars were going the other way in to Norwich.'

At West Runton beach, walkers stopped to admire the unusual sight of giant fabric seashells nestled between the rocks along the shore. The shells, which were handmade and dyed by artist Helen Otter, have been filled with sand and will hopefully stay in place until the end of the festival.

The launch of this year's festival also saw an eclectic mix of exhibitions open at venues all along the coast from Cromer to Sheringham. West Runton Church Hall hosted a mixed display of work celebrating the endeavours of the family of Frances Stephens. The event included original costumes designed by the former West Runton resident, Frances Stephens, who turns 99 this year, plus paintings, drawings, poetry and mixed media work by family members in celebration and recognition of her creative influence spanning four generations.

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Photographer David Morris and artist Samuel Thomas held a joint exhibition in Cromer's Red Lion pub, entitled Elephant in the Room. It featured a selection of their work and visitors were challenged to write down the most pretentious thing they had ever heard said about a piece of modern art.

There were also exhibitions of paintings by local artists, a display of metal sculpture plus a demonstration using a mobile furnace at Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand, a mixture of soft sculpture, weaving, knitting and embroidery at Holy Trinity Church West Runton and an exhibition of textiles at Industrihousse in West Street, Cromer.

All singing, all dancing string quarter Bowjangles performed a sell-out concert at Sheringham Little Theatre on the Saturday night and performance poet Murray Lachlan Young performed a collection of bizarre ballads, saucy sea shanties and rattling good yarns at the same venue on the following evening.

Festival-goers also had the chance to make their mark on Cromer by helping to create a giant landscape mural using just their hands as tools. Artists Karen Steadman and Jenny Leonard worked with willing volunteers to create the masterpiece in the Victorian shelter on Cromer's East Promenade.

Festival chairman Rosie Glasgow said she was very pleased with the how the opening weekend had gone. She added: 'I don't know how many people have gone to each thing but there seems to have been a good steady flow of visitors all day. We have got things going on all along the coast and I am delighted to see that people are braving the elements and struggling through. The artists in the beach huts thought nobody would come and they were really pleased when people started to turn up.'

Plans to set up a camera obscura outside the Hotel de Paris in Cromer on Saturday were cancelled as a result of illness.

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