Suffolk Open Studios Returns to Suffolk for 8th Successful Year

Posted on April 10, 2019

June 2019 sees the welcome return of the popular Suffolk Open Studios programme, now in its 8th successful year. Every weekend in June, artists across the county will be opening their studios to the public to allow visitors a unique opportunity to watch them at work and quiz them about their practice.

The 2019 programme runs over all five weekends in June, commencing Saturday 1 June, with over 100 artists taking part as well as eight galleries. All studios are open 11am-5pm and entry is free. Numbers this year are significantly up on last year, marking a powerful testimony to the event’s growing popularity.

Participating artists come from every corner of the art world and will be showing work across a wide choice of media covering every aspect of the visual arts, including painting, ceramics, glassware, print-making, pottery, sculpture and more. With work ranging from the strictly traditional to the highly abstract, the organisers guarantee there is something for every art lover.

The programme follows the success of last month’s Suffolk Open Studios Annual Showcase Exhibition, which was opened by Ania Hobson, previous Suffolk Open Studios member and winner of this year’s British Young Portrait Artist of the Year Award, and which saw hundreds of people gather at the Apex Gallery in Bury-St-Edmunds gather to admire the work on display.

Cally James, Suffolk Open Studios Chairperson, commented: “It’s wonderful to see artists’ work in a gallery or other formal situation, but the artists themselves are almost always not present. What makes Suffolk Open Studios unique is the opportunity to visit them in their own working environment: to have the chance to discuss their work one-to-one and ask how they go about creating it.”

Ania Hobson added: “Suffolk contains a huge reservoir of artistic talent, not all of which is readily visible via the more formal art channels. The great thing about Suffolk Open Studios is that it gives the public a chance to visit not just established artists but also to discover studios “off the beaten track”, and enjoy work which might otherwise get overlooked.”

This year sees a number of changes in response to feedback from artists and visitors. Simplified maps make it easier find members’ studios, while a new “Meet the Artist” section highlights the four finalists who competed to be the “face” of Suffolk Open Studios on this year’s promotional posters, flyers and directory. This year’s winner was Astra Taylor-Todd’s “Gorilla with Blue Tit”– to see Astra’s work, visit

Two features which have been retained are the popular members’ trails and hubs. “Trails” are where a number of artists within a given geographical area produce a leaflet listing their studios, to help visitors make the best use of their time in the locality. “Hubs” exist where artists who either do not have their own space or whose studios will not support public access combine forces to show their work in single venue. Full details appear on the Suffolk Open Studios website and in the 2019 directory.

Visitors can learn about participating artists, see examples of their work, check opening times and plan their route by visiting the Suffolk Open Studios website at An online map shows the location of all artists and galleries.

Visitors should also look out for Suffolk Open Studios posters, flyers and pocket-size directories, available in galleries, libraries and tourist information centres across the county, and downloadable from the website. They can also follow Suffolk Open Studios on Facebook and Instagram: search for @suffolkopenstudios.

Suffolk Open Studios continues to support the work of its nominated charity, Suffolk Artlink. A prize draw which took place during the Showcase exhibition at the Apex raised nearly £1,000 to support the organisation’s vital work in community centres, hospitals and hospices, residential homes, refuges and schools across the county. To learn more, visit

Friend’s Garage site development update

Posted on February 20, 2019

14th April 2019

Hello friends of Friends,

It’s been a while since the last update, so we wanted to outline the situation at the Friends Garage site.

Despite the gloomy sight of Friends Garage, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes on a daily basis. Negotiations for the purchase of a plot of land suitable for a filling station and shop on Front Street are well under way and a price has been agreed. This is a great milestone but it’s still early days. If things go very well, the filling station may be running by Christmas and the shop by Easter 2020 or shortly thereafter. Negotiations are proving time consuming and quite complex. The complexity is not just over the sale of the land but also around the developer’s requirements, planning, building & safety regulations and the plethora of potential suppliers involved in such a project including forecourt contractors, builders, East Suffolk Council, Highways and Suffolk Country Council. It is worth stating that East Suffolk Planning Department has been very helpful and responsive throughout, and we believe they are sympathetic to the requirement that Orford has for a filling station and retail operation.

The basic design plans for the fuel pumps and shop have been agreed subject to statutory planning and, assuming all the other pieces of the plan fit into place, we’re excited that we will have something to be pleased with as a community. We hope to be able to present plans to everyone via the Parish Council at some stage in the coming weeks. We do not see a MOT and mechanical workshop as being a part of this plan because it is not viable to service complex modern cars to compete with main dealers’ MOT and service facilities considering the investment required. Many of us would have preferred the Friends Garage we knew before, but we think this will be a good outcome for all members of the community.

We estimate that the total cost of the project will be approximately £650,000 and we are looking at various potential external sources of funding, but will in due course need grants, loans or donations from local people, many of whom already offered to help when Friends Garage closed. When we have our structure organised (a Community Interest Company we expect) we will launch an appeal for funds.

There will be further email updates as developments unfold. Thanks for your continued interest and support.

Ian Watkins, Edward Greenwell, Nicholas Gold & Harry Cole.

19th February 2019

FRIENDS GARAGE – an update

The proposed developer of the Friends garage site, Mike North, has formally withdrawn the planning application DC/18/5246/FUL lodged in December. This must in large part be in response to the overwhelming response of those who submitted their views to the Council planners and/or signed the petition calling for the application to be refused. It has been a great team effort and has certainly made our collective concerns about the site’s future very clear at Suffolk Coastal Council and its Planning Department.

Alongside that response, a group of Orford residents (Ian Watkins, Nick Gold, Edward Greenwell and Harry Cole) have been working to set up a Community Interest Company (or a similar entity) to retain a fuel and retail outlet of reasonable size and layout on the site. They have been in discussion with Mike North and Tom Massey (the owner) about a revised proposal that retains this key commercial facility and provides a larger area for a fuel pump and for an enhanced retail space, accessed off Front Street. These discussions have been useful so far, and we hope that in due course a revised proposal will emerge leading to a planning application which provides what the community needs.

We hope to agree terms for the acquisition of the required part of the site in the near future. We would then progress plans for the exact layout and appearance of this new village asset. From this a business plan would be developed, which would form the basis to seek funding to make this opportunity a reality. A number of people have already offered their generous support and the idea is that this key community asset should in future be held for the benefit of those in Orford and the surrounding villages.

There will be more updates to follow at significant moments via this newsletter, the Village Voice and communications from the Parish Council.

Harry Cole

Joanna Eden returns to Orford on her National Truth Tree tour 6th April 2019

Posted on November 22, 2018

In 2007 a young Joanna Eden captivated the audience at Picnic Jazz at The Pavilion in Orford with her pure voice and outstanding piano playing.

We are delighted that she has agreed to include Orford Church in her national Truth Tree tour to help raise funds for the Thomas Marshall Education Fund.

Joanna says: “I’m so excited to be touring this album to beautiful churches, chapels and cathedrals all over the country. If you like the music of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor and Kate Bush, Truth Tree should appeal to you”.

Lincolnshire born Joanna Eden wrote and performed her first song Happy December age seven.  The daughter of a musician and a drama teacher she could read music before she could write, studied piano from age 4 and left university 17 years later with her first tour (with college Indie-band ‘Precious’), an all-consuming love of Ella Fitzgerald and a weakness for drummers.

Since then, she has released 4 albums and over 35 original songs.

Joanna has performed her jazz influenced original music all over the world and supported world-class artists including Jamie Cullum, the Buena Vista Social Club, Ronan Keating and the Blockheads.

Sir Michael Parkinson instructed his Radio 2 listeners to “seek her out” and jazz legend Courtney Pine champions her recordings on his BBC Radio 2 show, while Jamie Cullum describes her as “Brilliant!”.

She has performed live on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Mojo Magazine has given her original albums rave reviews stating that her songs have “melody, mystery and bite!”.  Time Out described Joanna as “the UK’s answer to Diana Krall and Norah Jones.”

Joanna has been a singing teacher for 12 years and is so proud that her first student Sam Smith has become an international star and highest selling debut artist in the US since records began.  She began teaching Sam when he was just ten years old, coached him throughout his childhood and introduced him to song writing, co-writing and producing his first demo tracks.  She is a vocal coach for the popular music and performing arts degree courses at Anglia Ruskin University.

So, if you like the music of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor and Kate Bush we can guarantee you a wonderful evening with great music in the magnificent acoustic of St. Bartholomew’s Church. Doors and bar open at 7.00 pm with a support act playing from 7.30 pm before Joanna takes over from 8.00 pm. There will be a few tables available as well as unreserved seating and the bar will be open during the performances so do book now for this special event.