'Painting and people-watching is a perfect day' - Q&A with Mel Ashcroft

Mel Ashcroft, Sheringham artist, at work on a mural. 

Mel Ashcroft, Sheringham artist, at work on a mural. - Credit: Supplied by Mel Ashcroft

We're asking people in North Norfolk about their life and love for the area in a series of new Q&As. 

This week we're featuring Sheringham artist Mel Ashcroft, 48.

1. How would you best describe your job or role in the community?

I am one of the many artists that live in Sheringham and when I am out and about painting murals, I love being in the thick of it, meeting and chatting with people and I find it so rewarding to be able to make people smile through my artwork.

2. How long have you lived in Sheringham?

After nearly 21 years working in the retail sector in London, I moved to Sheringham to be closer to my family about five years ago.

That was the scariest, but best decision that I have made in my life, because I left a very good job, but now I am doing what I love, I get to see most of my family every day and have met some truly amazing people.

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3. What would you do if you were mayor of your town or village for a day?

That would mean I would follow in my mom’s footsteps as she has just finished her three year stint as mayor.

I think I would instigate a day of fun where everyone had to tell jokes all day to make each other laugh, oh and I would ban cars.

4. What is your favourite landmark in north Norfolk?

I would have to say the Sheringham clock tower. It has so much history attached to it and I have used its image in a number of my sketches because I love its character.

Sheringham artist Mel Ashcroft's take on the town's clock tower. 

Sheringham artist Mel Ashcroft's take on the town's clock tower. - Credit: Supplied by Mel Ashcroft

5. What is your favourite pub?

Not sure I have a favourite pub, but I am a regular visitor to both clubs in Sheringham.

I play pool in the North Norfolk Pool league for the Morley Club (Go Morley B’s!) and I am looking forward to the end of lockdown so the live bands and performers can start again at the Tyneside.

6. Which shops do you rely on?

During the pandemic, we have tried to shop local as much as we can and this will definitely be something we continue to do going forward.

As I grow my own veggies at my plot on the Weybourne Road allotment site, it’s really just meat and fish we buy. I highly recommend CA Seafoods on the high street, amongst the goodies in there, the mackerel pate is gorgeous.

Co-owner of CA seafoods Jamie Weston. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Weston, co-owner of CA seafoods in Sheringham. - Credit: Archant

7. What is your favourite place to eat out?

Most recently my partner and I have been to Crofters in Sheringham and that was fantastic, but actually we like the fish & chips from Dave’s Fish Bar in town.

If it’s a sunny day, we take them down to the beach and that’s our idea of heaven. The Starfish Café does a fabulous breakfast too.

8. What is a perfect day in north Norfolk for you?

That’s easy… It would be a day out and about, painting or sketching. I have been known to sit and paint goggly eyes on stones at the beach which I then leave for people to find and giggle at.

'Google-eyed stones' painted by Sheringham artist Mel Ashcroft. 

'Google-eyed stones' painted by Sheringham artist Mel Ashcroft. - Credit: Supplied by Mel Ashcroft

9. Which places in north Norfolk would you recommend to visitors?

Other than Sheringham, I have spent time on West Runton beach which is an awesome place.

You can spend hours searching for fossils or investigating the spot where a mammoth was excavated not so long ago and then sit having a cuppa at the beach café looking out to sea.

Early morning on West Runton beach

West Runton beach. - Credit: Jo Clarke

10. Who is your north Norfolk hero?

Fellow artist and friend David Barber is someone I am so glad I have met.

His Bruguel-esque style of painting is just breath taking and he has been a huge inspiration and indeed mentor to me in the last few years.

We are about to hold our third exhibition together at Odd Fellows Hall at the end of July which we are both excited about.

Fellow artist David Barber at work on a needlework piece. 

Fellow artist David Barber at work on a needlework piece. - Credit: Supplied by Mel Ashcroft

11. What do you most love about north Norfolk?

After spending such a long time working in the hussle-bussle of London, Norfolk is the complete opposite.

Moving here has not only allowed me to follow my dreams, but it has introduced me to the likes of the 40s weekend, annual carnivals and the potty festival. In the main, people are friendly, welcoming and chilled – Put it this way, I love it here and won’t be moving ever again.

*Mel Ashcroft and David Barber's exhibition will run daily 10am-5pm from July 24 to August 1, and entry is free.