Home is where the art is for this family

As an exhibition featuring six artists and four generations of the Dibben clan opens in Holt this week, DOMINIC CHESSUM met up with three of them to find out how their work is inspired by Norfolk and by each other.

Wen well-known Norfolk artist Andrew Dibben booked to hold a week-long exhibition at the Picturecraft Gallery in Holt more than a year ago he never imagined it would become a showcase for six members of his family.

But as the exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, though Andrew will have the lion's share of the space, it will now also feature work by his grandfather, wife, daughter, father-in-law and niece.

The one-off show will be the first time the six have shown their work together and the family say they are looking forward to the unique event with a mixture of excitement and interest.

For the two older generations it will be one of the first times their work has been shown in public.

Andrew's French grandfather, Jules Poux, was a wine wholesaler and a keen amateur photographer and painter, who died in 1969. He painted landscapes, birds and flowers and sold his work in his home town of Montagris. It will be the first time his work, now mainly owned by Andrew and his brother, will have been on public show in the UK.

Peter Phillips, Andrew's father-in-law, now in his 80s, was a science fiction writer who took to making pottery in the 1960s. He has never exhibited his hand- moulded work.

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Andrew said: “I think the exhibition is going to be really interesting. It will be fascinating to see how it all works together once it has been put up.”

Though each artist has their very own unique style, the family members have influenced each others' work.

Andrew, who has established a reputation for his high quality watercolours of the Norfolk Landscape, says his grandfather's love of art was an important influence in his early life.

He said: “His house was covered in paintings and he imparted a real love of art.

“I am interested in atmosphere and in particular the wild and rugged landscape of the coast.

“There is a fantastic atmosphere around the isolated buildings and you start to wonder about how they came to be there and the people who worked in them.”

In contrast to the wild landscapes of her father's work, Amy Dibben's art focuses on the human form, but even so she says she can see her father's influence coming through.

Having trained as a primary teacher, she is now concentrating on becoming a full-time artist.

“I have always loved art but ironically the fact that my dad was an artist put me off because I knew that it was not an easy life,” said Amy. “But having the artistic streak in my blood I have given in and decided to give it a try.

“I am just starting to get into the idea of the figure in the landscape and I can see dad's style in my work.”

Andrew's wife, Ann, who he met while they were both at the Norwich School of Art, also has a great passion for art and her work caring for children comes through in her painting.

She said: “I have a particular interest in Hemsby. It is a part of the coast that often gets overlooked. My work is my interpretation of Hemsby and I try to get across the fun.

“Amy getting back into art has helped rekindle my desire to paint.”

A final fantastical element will be brought to the show by Andrew's niece, Sally.

Based in Leicester, she will be displaying her most recent series of large- scale finely detailed figurative drawings, which incorporate elements drawn from Manga cartoons.

Andrew added: “This is a one-off and it will certainly show the diversity of the Dibbens.”

The exhibition is at the Picturecraft Gallery, Lees Yard, Holt and is open to the public from Saturday, August 25 to Thursday, August 30. For more information call 01263 711040.

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