The Suffolk SketchFest 2022 is back this year on 5-7 August in Woodbridge, Suffolk. There are around 50 events across the three days. Organisers, Art Safari, bill the festival as “a burst of energy for adults as well as young people wanting to learn about outdoor sketching and painting”.
The festival is open to anyone who would like to draw and sketch from nature. It takes place on the River Deben with three full days of workshops, demos and drawing opportunities. They have expert tutors with a wealth of insight into “capturing the essence,” as wildlife artist John Busby once described it.
Peta Orme spoke to Mary-Anne Bartlett (founder of Art Safari and Suffolk SketchFest) and Vivienne McGuinness (Artist in residence) at Art Safari’s riverside office.
‘I sat chatting over coffee’, Peta recalls, ‘and admired Vivienne’s sketches of the Oyster Catchers and their chicks from the nest across the way’. Mary-Anne described her presentation with Claudia Myatt, which they gave to the River Deben Association during a lockdown Zoom, sketching live. “Those who care for wildlife”, Mary-Anne explained, “can be inspired to capture it, and those who love to capture the moment through sketching, can in turn be inspired to care for wildlife.
“Suffolk Sketchfest is the ultimate way to sit down, look, and learn to care for the river. Sketching is a wonderful way to find a sense of place in our environment. Through it we can mindfully feel a part of it.”
The Deben: constantly changing
There is a liveliness to Deben, Peta believes. The liveliest of all areas is down at the Quay, where Art Safari have their office and art studio. Peta describes the energy there, constantly changing with the tides and weather. As the clouds come over, the colours change. As the toppers and kayakers take to the water, the movement transforms. It’s the perfect place for the festival to take attendees out of the flow to observe the beauty, and tutor them to capture that energy.
Peta suggests the event offers insight into the secret of the river that only local artists seem to know. It encourages engagement with the river. She believes the festival is a great opportunity for using other’s vision into the local area of outstanding natural beauty, and meeting like-minded individuals who care for wildlife or capturing it.
Local artist and art tutor Claudia Myatt agrees. “You can also experiment with different ways of working to expand your artistic practise further. You can be a beginner or experienced looking for new inspiration. You can be abstract, loose or you can find pleasure in detail. You can choose a workshop in watercolour, acrylic, printmaking, or line and wash.”
Suffolk Sketchfest 2022 will take place at various points along the river in Woodbridge from the Tide Mill up to Kyson Point. Tutors include Mary-Anne Bartlett, Claudia Myatt, Mark Boyd, Ian Sedge, Lorna Hamilton and Maxine Relton.
It’s open to both adults and young people who would like to learn to draw and sketch from nature. Sessions are guided by tutors who are all practised outdoor artists, and attendees will learn how to capture scenes on a range of subjects such from wildlife to landscapes.
This video from 2020 gives a taste of the event, which has since grown.