Reedbeds and reflections…

River Wensum at Sculthorpe Nature Reserve © Mari French 2017

River Wensum at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve © Mari French 2017


Delighted to discover a new reedbeds landscape this week, this time at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, just outside Fakenham. It’s only 8 miles from my home but although I was aware of it, I haven’t visited before (a mistake), as I normally head for the north Norfolk coast and the saltmarshes and reedbeds there. 

Sunday was a blustery and changeable early spring day, with scudding clouds and more bright sunshine as the day unfolded. The reserve is larger than I thought with extensive winding boardwalks providing comfortable and easy exploration. Lots of benches too. I had my camera with me but no sketchbook, which I’m going to put right on my next visit (soon). 

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Birches embracing, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Birches embracing © Mari French 2017

Mere and reedbeds, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Mere and reedbeds, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Reflections and bridge, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Reflections and bridge, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017


I loved the variety of habitat – white birch trunks standing out against the furze of woodland, the meandering river Wensum, its banks lined with pollarded willow, catkins already out, reedbeds and open meres (with great views from several hides). Lots of birdsong, which you’d expect in spring in a place popular with birdwatchers. Speaking of which, the peace and quiet was more noticeable and welcome given that any visitors encountered were talking fairly quietly being there mainly for the birds and wildlife.

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017


Movement of wind in the reeds and bulrushes, sparkling sun on the water, movement of branches, reflections, fenceposts punctuating the reedbeds … these obviously all fed into my subconscious because a few days later in the studio, after some experimental markmaking, I produced these mixed media on paper pieces, which I’m rather excited by! (And yes, I did see some interesting birds).

insight… in sight…

Thinking more about the subconscious process behind my art lately …

Work emerging from the studio the past two weeks appear again to be channelling my time spent studying and sketching reedbeds and pools/channels on the north Norfolk saltmarsh coast.

Initially these were experimental pieces with mixed-media (inks and acrylics etc) on watercolour board and paper. But having left them alone for a few days, then coming back and working into them with that lovely rust colour for instance, they definitely evoke reedbeds and water to me. The first one below from a close viewpoint, the second from further away.

IMG_1428

Untitled. Mixed media on paper © Mari French 2017

But I’ve also been considering this: they’re not just about distilling what I see or feel, my work seems increasingly to recall my physical experience; the journeying and exploration of my chosen terrain. So some motifs may appear more than once and at different scales, because I see the same place/object or experience the same feeling or sensation several times as I go, turning and watching, stopping and walking back to study some more.

Having been working towards abstraction in my interpretation of the landscape over the past decade, it’s intriguing (and a bit thrilling) to get this insight into the way my own process works.

IMG_1426

Untitled. © Mari French 2017

emergence …

Ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Since my last post, I’ve been continuing my experimental studies with acrylic ink and developing some of the earlier ones. The addition of more mark making with Inktense pencil, Posca paint pens and white acrylic paint has resulted in landforms emerging – reedbeds, flooded marshes, saltings, banks – reminiscent of the Norfolk saltmarsh coast, which continues to inform my work.

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017