26/05/2022 General News
Marc Knighton, head of pictures at Keys Auctioneers & Valuers, celebrates one of Norfolk’s greatest living artists
Born in St Olaves in 1944, and entirely self-taught, there can be no doubt that Colin Burns is one of Norfolk’s greatest living artists – and his pictures continue to be highly sought-after in the saleroom.
Burns started painting at a young age. He was painting landscapes and sunsets by the age of seven, and by nine he was winning art prizes at school.
Perhaps the biggest early influence on his artistic style was his parents moving to the countryside when he was 12; he found himself surrounded with bucolic landscapes and plentiful local wildlife. He became more and more interested in portraying nature in his art, and this is a passion which has stayed with him throughout his life.
Like many artists, Burns didn’t start out as a professional immediately. On leaving school at 16, he qualified as an accountant and went to work in Great Yarmouth. It wasn’t until he was 32 that he finally left that job to become a full time professional painter – the result of the enthusiastic response which greeted his first exhibition at the Tryon Gallery the previous year (1977).
Painting in both oil and watercolour, Burns’ subjects have been diverse, including London scenes and Scottish landscapes, but it is his East Anglian Landscapes and his wildlife paintings for which he is best known, and these are the works which are most in demand in the saleroom.
In the 1960s Burns was one of the youngest members of the Great Yarmouth Society of Artists, and became its chairman in 1982, a position he retained until 1994. He is also a keen member of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and produced a Christmas card for the Trust for over 40 years.
Burns now lives in Ludham, and continues to be inspired by the stunning Broadland landscapes and skies.
His paintings have always been very collectable, combining tremendous artistic skill with an easy aesthetic and accessibility. At Keys’ spring East Anglian Art Sale, prices for his works ranged from the hundreds for smaller watercolours, up to £6,600 for a magnificent oil painting of ‘Stags in Glen Affric’ – this last painting making nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.
Fortunately he has been active for many years, and works frequently appear at auction, often at Keys Auctioneers in his home county. The firm’s second East Anglian Art Sale of the year, which takes place on Friday 29th July, includes a number of his works, and the expected brisk bidding will show once again how lucky we are to have such a talented painter in our county.