Art gallery celebrating local talent to launch at site of former mill

Merlina Arts opens at Earsham Mill, the gallery is run by Debra Hardman and features a range of loca

Debra Hardman has launched Merlina Arts at Earsham Mill - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A gallery aiming to celebrate all types of art is preparing to open at the site of a former derelict watermill.

Merlina Arts, located in Earsham Mill, near Bungay, will open its doors for the first time at an open evening on Thursday, May 26, before launching to the public the following day.

Debra Hardman, owner of Merlina Arts, said: "It's a really exciting time because there's a huge amount of talent in the area.

Merlina Arts opens at Earsham Mill, the gallery is run by Debra Hardman and features a range of loca

A selection of artwork at Merlina Arts - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"My aim is to promote art and to provide a destination for people of all talents.

"I don't want to showcase only highbrow art - I wanted it to be about the lady that's painted all her life but never actually sold a picture."

Ms Hardman has always been passionate about art and believes that it isn't "just pictures on the wall or a sculpture".

Merlina Arts opens at Earsham Mill, the gallery is run by Debra Hardman and features a range of loca

A view inside Merlina Arts - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"There's art in everything we see and my aim is to get everyone's work out there to the public," she added.

Merlina Arts' new home is the historic Earsham Mill which was bought for £380,000 by Iain Gwynn, who runs Draganfly Motorcycles in Bungay, in 2019.

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The building has since been refurbished and split into small units.

Merlina Arts opens at Earsham Mill, the gallery is run by Debra Hardman and features a range of loca

Artwork at Merlina Arts - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Ms Hardman took on the unit at the beginning of 2022 and began to make plans for her launch.

She said: "It's a stunning unit. I've never had a gallery before and it's been a long few months preparing but I can't wait to get going."

Indeed, Ms Hardman decided on Earsham Mill because she liked the idea of it being a destination.

Earsham Mil pictured in September 1964. Pic: Archant.

Earsham Mill pictured in September 1964

She said: "It's not just somewhere people can come in off the street.

"I love the heritage side of things and as the mill grows I hope it'll become more of a day out for people."

And Ms Hardman has no plans to stand still and is already looking ahead to the future.

Merlina Arts opens at Earsham Mill, the gallery is run by Debra Hardman and features a range of loca

Merlina Arts is to launch to the public on Friday, May 27 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

She added: "We'd love to expand in the future. There's another section in the mill that overlooks the marshes so I hope to open a second unit if this venture is successful."

Merlina Arts will be open from Thursday to Sunday and is free to enter.