Lana Grabinskis

Local artist Lana Grabinskis

Capturing the spirit of dance

For years she did not pick up a pencil. Now Lana Grabinskis is seeing great success with her pictures of dancers and is working with some of country’s top ballet companies, as Abigail Saltmarsh reports.

Inspired by her Latvian father,  Lana Grabinskis loved to draw  and paint as a child – but as an adult her sketch pad remained closed and she rarely went to an art exhibition. Then last year, Lana moved to Norfolk and everything changed. After more than 20 years of shying away from her art materials, she found herself back in front of her easel and grabbing attention with her pastels of ballet dancers.“I don’t know what it was really – there was just something about Norfolk that made me want to start producing art again. Perhaps it was because there were also so many artists living and working here, and all these wonderful galleries,” she says.“I think I felt inspired, so I went into Picturecraft in Holt and spoke to Adrian Hill, who runs it. He was so supportive and encouraged me to have a go again. “I tried to so some Norfolk landscapes – it really is so beautiful here – but I didn’t ever finish them. So I decided to go back to what I knew, and started on pictures of dancers again.”Lana, 46, who was born in County Durham, first started drawing ballet dancers at the age of four. Her gift was nurtured by her late father Talivaldis Grabinskis, an artist himself.“My father was a wonderful artist. He was a very wise person but I think there was sadness too. When he was 17 he left his own country and never went back.“He encouraged me in my art and was very respected for his own. He did exhibit, but there were not as many opportunities in the north-east as there are here in Norfolk. I think he could have done very well indeed here,” she says. Her mother, Mary, also encouraged her work and for many years Lana harboured hopes of becoming a professional artist.“But then I left school and got married very quickly. I had three children and worked as a medical rep. My life seemed to move in a different direction and I just didn’t feel inspired,” she admits.Then came a new relationship for Lana, and when her fianc� Rev Colin Sherwood was given a position in Sheringham, she decided to move to north Norfolk too.“I just found there were so many  artists here – so many, in fact, that I would almost meet them on a daily basis,” she says. Lana began sketching ballet dancers from pictures she found in books and on the internet. She also requested photographs from the producers of Riverdance and they kindly sent her a set. But soon she had an urge to produce her pictures from real life.“There’s only so far you can go from photographs. I wanted to be able to capture the movement and the drama of the dancers as they danced,” she explains. Lana started talking to ballet companies and sending them examples of her work. Soon she was attending rehearsals, having been given permission to sketch the dancers as they practised.She watched the Northern Ballet Theatre when they came to Norwich, and hopes to travel to see them in Leeds. She has also been invited to attend rehearsals of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company. “For me it is so important to sketch from life. I would like to watch as much ballet as possible – including going to London to see Sadler’s Wells,” she adds.“I think part of the magic of it is that you have just a few moments to capture the grace of the movement and then it’s gone.”Lana will be exhibiting her work at Picturecraft, in Holt, from February 11 to March 10. Her plan now is to keep producing her pictures and perhaps move into watercolour in the future.“Discovering my passion for art again has been a lovely surprise for me,” she says. “All my hopes of becoming a professional artist had disappeared.“But now I have come full circle. In a way I am back to where I was at the age of four, when I was drawing dancers with my father. “I had always hoped to exhibit with my father. Now, of course, that won’t be possible, but I do know that if he could see me now he would be very proud.”

Lana Grabinskis will be exhibiting at Picturecraft from Thursday, February 11 to Wednesday, March 10. For more information call Picturecraft on 01263 711040 or visit

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