Diane Shortland

Freelance Writer

Arts & Crafts Review

Broad Skies Gallery

A working artist’s studio providing a haven of creativity; perfect for a coffee, a lesson, or a browse of original paintings and prints. Art materials and giftware also on sale.

Where to find it
The studio is easily reached from Norwich, 14 miles, or Great Yarmouth, 13 miles, and is also accessible from the Broads waterways stopping at Ludham Bridge. The small complex has a basic store and cafe although I’d stay clear of this and take a beverage with Linda instead. Have a nose in the boatyard hut, though, as a good eye can spot a bargain – I picked up a lovely oar from there which, when sanded down and re-painted, has made a wonderful feature in my beach hut.

What to expect
If you’re looking for an oasis in the middle of what can at times feel like an ocean of kiss-me-quick hats, look no further that Linda Matthews. Her gallery cum working studio cum gift shop and coffee house is without a doubt her pride a joy. It’s sophisticated and classy. If you’re an artist, aspire to be an artist or simply love arty things, you’ll be in your element here. As you enter the enchanting smell of linseed oil and acrylics from half finished canvases greets you, along with an array of quality art supplies - which is enough to make even the most hopeless of cases want to pick up a brush. Five minutes of chat with the enthusiastic free spirit that is Linda, and a glance at her messy work-in-progress quarters, will have you booking a lesson and heading to the rolling fields of Norfolk with your acrylics in tow. The aroma of coffee and cakes invites you to stay awhile and the busy space of paintings, prints and giftware makes for pleasant browsing.

What’s for sale?
Original paintings are hung from every wall; Linda’s growing portfolio is visibly evolving to become looser and brighter in colour and tone. She prefers “the freedom of painting from life, en plein air”, her philosophy being “wherever you look there is inspiration”. She paints to “uplift the observer” and I think this is what makes her work so appealing to all.

You’ll find a good selection of canvases, also available as prints and cards as well as a wide range of other gifts, all made by local artists. With everything handmade you’re guaranteed an original which is appealing.

Painting Tuition
Linda offers a fantastic selection of courses and workshops. These range from two hour lessons in her studio to full week vacations in Southern France. I’ve not been on a class myself but if Linda’s friendly relaxed approach to life, her obvious talent and motivation are anything to go by, a lesson would be a perfect mix of serious guidance and jovial fun.

The details
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Lessons start from £25.