Caught by the River

Visions of the Stour Valley

30th June 2013

Justin Partyka, Wormingford, 2013

Wormingford, Essex (Stour Valley), 2013, photo by Justin Partyka

Received an email from Justin Partyka about a series of projects in East Anglia around the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley and thought a few readers might be interested in heading along.

The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley is one of 46 designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. An AONB is a landscape considered to have outstanding character and natural beauty and therefore deemed special enough to be protected for the national interest. AONBs are living, working landscapes, with long histories and rich cultural heritage. They are places of diverse fauna and flora, with distinct geological characteristics, and important archaeological, architectural and vernacular features. The Gower Peninsula was the first designated AONB landscape in 1956. Since then the number has steadily grown stretching from the Northumberland Coast to the Isles of Scilly. AONBs are managed with an emphasis on enhancement, care and conservation whilst recognising the needs of local communities and economies.

The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley is one of three such areas in East Anglia. It is particularly known for its lowland river landscape and inspiration to artists especially Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, and Sir Alfred Munnings. It is a landscape that has prominently influenced the course of the history of British art, and continues to inspire visual artists today.

Visions of the Stour Valley is a special project that will explore and celebrate the landscape and art of the area, taking place over the summer months of 2013 and beyond. The project will feature a varied programme: a new photography commission, botanical artists’ residences, pop-up lectures and slideshows, workshops and exhibitions.

Presented by Backroad Books and supported by the Dedham Vale AONB Sustainable Development Fund, Visions of the Stour Valley is taking place in collaboration with RSPB Wildlife Garden, National Trust Boat House Gallery, and the Field Studies Council. This new project follows on from the success of a previous AONB funded project Changing Landscapes which was part funded and hosted by The Munnings Art Museum.

Events Along the Stour Valley – 2013

Join us for these Sunday afternoon events of lively and inspiring lectures and presentations by Jonathan P. Watts and Justin Partyka. Each lecture will focus on a distinguished Stour Valley artist, and Justin will present work from his commission in the area. The final event of the series will feature Simon Carter in-conversation at the National Trust Boat House Gallery, Flatford.

Entry for each event is £3 and includes tea and cake.

Sunday 30th June, 4.00-5.30pm Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788)
Wormingford Community Education Centre, The Old School, Church Lane, Wormingford, CO6 3AZ

Sunday 28th July, 4.00-5.30pm John Constable (1776 – 1837)
Nayland Church Hall (St James), Bear Street, Nayland,

Sunday 25th August, 2.30-4.00pm Sir Alfred Munnings (1878 – 1959)
Institute Hall, Higham Road, Stratford St Mary, CO7 6JU

Sunday 22nd September, 5.30-7.00pm Simon Carter (1961)
Boat House Gallery, Flatford, CO7 6AL

For enquiries about the events email

For more information about AONBs visit Landscapes for Life or the Dedham Vale Stour Valley website.