Oil and magical water

IAN COLLINS A popular Norfolk painter has put his heart and soul into his latest show of Broadland oils – in pictures also prompting acclaimed music. Ian Collins reports.


Beyond Dusk and Dawn is the title of popular oil painter David Dane's fifth bi-annual display in the suitable setting of Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Broads Wildlife Centre at Ranworth. Scenes in the frames can be seen out of the windows.

As this Catfield-based artist is noted for his ability to capture romantic effects of light and atmosphere, it is also fitting that the show will be opened by Anglia Television's weather presenter Wendy Hurrell.

And if having a David Dane painting on the wall is the visual equivalent of soothing mood music, then the theme will be neatly echoed at Ranworth with piano recitals by Patrick Hawes at 2pm every Saturday and Sunday over the next three weekends.

Actually, the link is even more apt than that.

Classic FM's current composer in residence has won acclaim for ethereal music that first caught the public's attention in 2004 via the debut CD Blue in Blue. Playing pieces from his new album, Towards the Light, in six free concerts, this Norfolk-loving composer will also be featured in recordings throughout the show.

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With titles such as Ebb Tide, Lake and Swan his pieces seem to conjure up Dane pictures in music - as indeed they do. For the pair are Catfield neighbours and now friends, with similar creative and conservationist interests. Each inspires the other.

A professional artist for more than 35 years, David Dane has lived in Norfolk since he was five - and the watery and misty atmosphere of Broadland has long since seeped into his soul.

His active engagement with the Broads began with various jobs on and around the river, notably with the Hunter Fleet at Ludham, one of the last traditional boatyards. Here, he says, he found peace of mind and a sense of purpose.

“I remember looking out of the window at the ice-coloured reeds - it looked like heaven to me,” he says, “I also skippered boat trips for around five or six years.

“I had an immediate rapport with the area and thought how lucky I am to be doing this.”

Ludham was of course the later home port of Norfolk's Edward Seago, but while that sailor-artist also went around the world in search of subjects, David Dane has found a world in Broadland.

Or rather he has spread Broadland across the planet. For his best-selling prints now hang in countless homes from America to Australia and China.

A part-time painter for 25 years, he finally decided to make his passionate hobby his career and vocation. Roaming in his beloved landscape he himself is now a fixture of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads - though you're most likely to catch him in the first or last light of dusk or dawn, when his domain is at its most magical.

His hallmark is to go beyond precise topography to present a picture which is both archetypal and yet somehow secret. His are canvases on which other people can draw memories of their own.

But the latest show is also the artist's most personal to date. For the 23 pictures will contain a special focus on Sutton Fen, near Catfield - the RSPB's newest reserve.

This haven is home to bitterns, otters, swallowtails and… David Dane.

Beyond Dusk And Dawn: Paintings by David Dane can be seen at the Broads Wildlife Centre, Ranworth, from Novenber 3 until November 18. Open 10am-4pm daily. The artist will be on hand throughout. Further information on 01692 584938