The Alde Valley Spring Festival Exhibition 2018

CLAUDIUS ~ Suffolk’s Roman Emperor

A Celebration of Portraiture, Life Drawing & the Figure in the Landscape

Dates : Sat 21st April – Sun 20th May
Venue : White House Farm, Great Glemham, Suffolk IP17 1LS
Opening Times : 10am – 6pm Weeeknds, Tues – Fri + Bank Holiday Mondays
Entry : Free

Information : 

Note :
All works in the Spring Festival Exhibition are for sale and many of the artists and makers whose work is on show also undertake commissions.

For a pdf Copy of the Spring Festival Catalogue and more information about the Exhibition or artists’ work please contact : 


The Festival Exhibition Information
Participating Artists for 2018

Sculpture : Aleksandras Aleksejevas, Laurence Edwards, Tobias Ford, Maggi Hambling, Jennifer Hall, Roger Hardy, Craig Hudson, Callum Stannard, Eva Terzoni.

Paintings, Prints & Drawings : Perienne Christian, Marchela Dimitrova, Clara Drummond, Meriel Ensom, George Farrow Hawkins, Jason Gathorne-Hardy, Jelly Green, Maggi Hambling, Jennifer Hall, Becky Munting, Tessa Newcomb, Gideon Summerfield; with additional works by Harry Becker and Feliks Topolski.

Photography and Film : Enri Canaj & Linda Farrow Hawkins.

Harry Becker Archive Exhibition : a small Archive Exhibition about the life and work of Harry Becker is on show in the Farmyard Classroom. [With thanks to Simon Loftus and Abbott & Holder.] 

"Suffolk: the Land', watercolours, drawings and lithographs by Harry Becker (1865-1928) Abbott and Holder Ltd. 4th April to 24th May

More about the Spring Festival Exhibition 2018

As in past years, the Spring Festival Exhibition is arranged around the main farmyard barns. Out of season, these are used for storage and farming activities. For four weeks each spring they are cleaned, painted and dressed in preparation for the Alde Valley Spring Festival. During these four weeks the barns become a series of galleries, showing works by local, regional, national and international artists. Entry is free and all works are for sale.

For 2018 we have introduced some changes that allow us to present a much more closely curated Spring Festival Exhibition in the front farmyard. To do this, works of art about the farm’s conservation work and wildlife projects [two collections of beautiful new paintings on canvas, board and wood by Becky Munting and Meriel Ensom] have been moved to the farmhouse Dining Room – otherwise known as the farm’s HQ / Hedge Quarters.

This has allowed the main barns to be given over to a seasonal exhibition with a much more closely curated annual theme. For this inaugural year, we have chosen the title of CLAUDIUS ~ Suffolk’s Roman Emperor as the anchor for a Celebration of Portraiture, Life Drawing & the Figure in the Landscape. The exhibition is being held in tribute to the bronze head of the Emperor Claudius that was found about two miles upstream of the farm in the River Alde at Rendham village in 1907.

The head is thought to have been abandoned or placed in the river by a retreating follower of the Iceni Warrior Queen Boudicca. She and her army had sacked Colchester [Camulodunum – Claudius’s capital of the British settlements], London [Londinium] and St Albans [Verulaneum] in a bold uprising, before being defeated by a Roman that had gathered in the west of England. Local folklore in the Upper Alde Valley recounts that the head was nailed to a gatepost for a while as an ornament, before being recognised as an antiquity. The original is now one of our national treasures and is on display in the British Museum.

The head of Claudius is also considered to be one of England’s earliest examples of portraiture – fetched out of the River Alde as it runs through the soft, ever shifting, silty Suffolk landscape. As such, it serves as an appropriate anchor for the 2018 Spring Festival Exhibition. Two aspects of its history in particular - its retrieval from the mud of the River Alde and its existence as one of our earliest examples portraiture – seem to echo and reverberate down the centuries in ways that are characteristic of Suffolk: a county which still feels slightly apart and in which so much remains known but partly hidden, be it behind a hedge, in a sleepy inland river valley, in a half-remembered story or lost upon far flung stretches of broad coastal marshes.

For as much as bronze was pulled out of the Alde in Rendham just over 100 years ago, it has more recently returned to the river at Butley Creek about 14 miles downstream of White House Farm, where the estuary splits and a tributary runs up to the settlements of Butley and Chillesford. In 2016 the sculptor Laurence Edwards placed a life-size figure in bronze called A Thousand Tides on the mudflats. It was his gift to the landscape that had inspired him and sustained his work as he prepared to move on to start a new foundry in Halesworth. The figure is still there, slowly subsiding; being absorbed by the Alde and the Suffolk landscape.

And, true to Suffolk’s quirky character, the location at which the head of Claudius was found now also happens to be near to the home of Maggi Hambling, one of Britain’s greatest contemporary painters and sculptors – renowned also for her portraits and her commitment to drawing from life as an essential part of an artist’s practice or discipline.

Taking a lead from selected works by Maggi Hambling and Laurence Edwards a closely curated show of sculptures, paintings, etchings, lithographs, drawings and photographs then flows through the farmyard barns and out into the fields.

  • Local Places to Stay :

    Good places to stay within 1 mile of the Festival and farm : Crown Cottages, Great Glemham; Stable Cottage, The Grove; Alde Garden, Sweffling Details>


  • Festival Exhibition opening times :

    Festival open every weekday except non-Bank Holiday Mondays. If you are coming in the middle of the day there are good local pubs in Great Glemham and Rendham.


  • Free Entry & Parking :

    Free parking and free entry to Festival Exhibition and Open Studios [@ weekends] – come by foot, bike or car share !

  • Harry Becker Exhibition :

    Archive Exhibition about Harry Becker in the Farmyard Classroom with works for sale in the barns.

  • The Festival Exhibition theme for 2018 : Claudius ~ Suffolk’s Roman Emperor!

    Celebration of portraiture, life drawing and the figure in the landscape

  • New works:

    New works by over 20 artists and makers in the Festival Exhibition.

  • Festival Talks:

    Festival Talks with Maggi Hambling, Simon Loftus and Charlotte Howarth.

  • Farm Suppers with Peter Harrison:

    Farm Suppers with Peter Harrison each Thursday evening in the farmhouse Dining Rooms from Thurs 26th April – 17th May. Book early to reserve places.


  •  Eat on the Wild Side :

    Cakes, pastries and pies made with foods from the farm’s market gardens, hedgerows, pastures and woodland. Served and on sale at weekends in Hedge Quarters’ Tea Rooms.


  •  NEW for 2018 :

    More pop up exhibition spaces in the barns for The Spring Festival Exhibition.

  •  NEW for 2018 :

    New Workshop Residency spaces – open at weekends from 21st April – 20th May.

  •  Spring Festival launches 21st April:

    The 2018 Alde Valley Spring Festival launches on Saturday 21st April and runs until Sunday 20th May – come and visit us !


  •  NEW for 2018:

    Open Studios showcasing some of the best makers in Suffolk and UK : leather work, letter carving, chair-making, knife-forging, jewellery, tile-making


Works for Sale

We have some wonderful works by artists that exhibit at the festival currently for sale. Details >
The Festival Shop

Stocking a range of unusual cards, books, walking sticks and other handmade items made on the farm & by local artisans. Details >
The Suffolk Chair Collection

The Collection of original early – mid nineteenth century Ball Backs has been set up as a design reference collection. Details >

Icon Painting in the Alde Valley

For more information....
Details >
Food Adventures

We have listed some of the Alde Valleys outstanding food businesses.
Places to Stay

The Alde Valley and East Suffolk are full of good homestays, holiday cottages, B&Bs and hotels.
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