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Head East – Contemporary art inspired by an Edwardian master, Harry Becker

A feast of inspiration by Ruth McCabe, artist and member of ‘Inspired by Becker Art Society’.

Step inside the cool of ‘The Cathedral of the Marshes’ (Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh) between August 13-16 2021, and take time in this quiet space to enjoy the work of 26 artists responding to the Edwardian artist Harry Becker’s spontaneous and energetic inspiration!

Born in Colchester in 1865, Becker had studied in Antwerp and Paris before returning to paint in London. A fine portrait painter, exhibiting alongside Sickert, Sargent and Augustus John, in 1913 he retreated from the demands of the London scene to live in rural Suffolk, living in Wenhaston and nearby villages. Choosing to work en plein air alongside the manual labourers of the pre-mechanised farming era, his work in oils, watercolour, drawing and etching, is full of immediacy and energy, capturing the effort of the labourer’s work and the feeling of the landscape, with swiftly worked, minimal detail. He died in 1928.


Images above by permission of: Alan D Marshall from ‘Harry Becker’s Suffolk’ 2013 Mascot Media.

The ‘Inspired by Becker Art Society’ aims to raise public awareness of Becker’s work by presenting contemporary artwork by regional artists in Suffolk and Norfolk who find inspiration in some element of his style.


Poster design by Helen Breach.

Holy Trinity is a peaceful, light-filled space, with a stunning mediaeval floor and fascinating history

Photographs of Holy Trinity and environs by Colin Huggins.

The church’s wonderful angel roof is renowned throughout the region.

Figures showing the wear of the centuries that have passed since they were carved in the 1400’s are found at the end of the pews, some of which depict the seven deadly sins. A careful examination of the choir stalls will reveal a carving from 1665 of a boy’s name: Dirck Lowersen; at that time the church would have been used as a school.  A rare seven sacraments font thought to be the oldest example of its type shows damage caused when the spire collapsed in a storm in 1577. It was later also defaced in 1644 by Puritans.

We are honoured to be able to present fine contemporary art in this exquisite, powerful historic setting, standing sentinel as the church does over the flood plains and saltmarshes of the River Blyth.

It was the church that Becker’s daughter loved and in whose graveyard the family is buried.

Our visitors will sense our heartfelt respect for Becker, an overlooked master, and our equally heartfelt, lively responses to his inspiration in the work we present.

Alongside the main exhibition, on the mornings of Friday 13 and Saturday 14 August, the society runs a Paint Out Competition to honour Becker’s preferred Plein Air method of working.

All artists including non members are welcomed to register to take part, and both abstract and representational work is encouraged. Visit Paint Out page to download information on how to enter.


Competition entries will be judged by representatives of The George Farnham Gallery, Saxmundham, and prizes awarded and work displayed in the main exhibition from Saturday afternoon onwards.

Since the first exhibition in 2013, (100 years after Becker left London to live in Wenhaston), we have been overwhelmed and delighted with the support both from artists wanting to exhibit and from visitors to the show.

Comments from visitors each year have been superlative in their praise for the quality and range of the work on display, and for the professional way in which it is presented.

We look forward to welcoming you to this year’s “Freedom” themed show.


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