Artist Bothy / Wiveton, Norfolk

The black aluminium cladding of this Artist Bothy evokes vernacular buildings found along the north Norfolk coast. Artist and landscape designer Jeremy Bevan commissioned the bothy as a studio where he can go to paint and think while gazing out across the surrounding countryside. He enjoys the daily ritual of strolling to work down the garden path and receives regular compliments when hosting exhibitions of his work in the bothy.

This is Jeremy’s bothy story:

I moved to this house in rural Norfolk with my wife after living in London for 43 years. We bought the house just over ten years ago but it wasn’t the right time to move so we rented it out and spent holidays in it until we were ready to live here permanently. During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 I was looking for a building to use as a workspace and came across Bothy Stores on Instagram. I immediately fell in love with the look of the bothies and got in touch to start talking about the commissioning process.

Uncompromising quality

A friend of mine asked me why I couldn’t just buy a shed for the garden and I explained that once I’d seen the Artist Bothy nothing else was going to be good enough. I love the design of it because it’s so simple and not at all fussy. The pared-back form and the clean lines of the gable end are absolutely stunning. 

The bothy was at the top end of my budget but at this stage in my life I decided I was going to indulge myself and buy something I really wanted rather than compromise. I needed a new workspace and you only live once after all! If I had deeper pockets perhaps I would have customised it a bit more but it’s pretty perfect as it is.

Blending in rather than standing out

I opted for the black corrugated aluminium cladding because it ties in with the local vernacular of black-painted wood buildings. We’re in a Conservation Area and also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so I had to apply for planning permission for the bothy. It got through the planning process without any problems and I think the simple design and materials probably helped with that.

The main house is from the eighteenth century and it’s a lovely example of a traditional Norfolk brick-and-flint cottage. The nearby outbuilding which we’ve renovated is in the same style so it was important that the bothy complement these historic buildings. A typical garden studio just wasn’t going to cut it. When I have open studios and people come to visit they often comment first on the bothy and not my art! 

Working out exactly where to position the bothy in the garden was tricky as it is bounded on either side by a hedge and an outbuilding which aren’t parallel. In the end I lined it up with the hedge and it fits is beautifully. It has a fantastic view across the field through the window in the gable end.

From flatpack to finished bothy

We had to specify a flatpack kit because it wasn’t going to be possible to fit a prefabricated bothy up the driveway. It turned up on the back of a big lorry and then Bobby and his team got to work installing it. I left them to it for two weeks while I was away doing a course. Bobby sent me regular updates with photographs of how it was coming along and that was really exciting to see. I was amazed by how much skilled labour is involved in building the bothy and how complex it was. It all seemed to go really smoothly and Bobby was very easy to work with.

I couldn’t afford to have the interior fitted out so I did most of it myself. I was left with the OSB lining internally so I paid some local tradesmen to line it with plasterboard and apply the plaster, as well as an electrician to finish off the cabling. Then I painted it all, fitted a linoleum floor and added a little kitchen with a Belfast sink. It was really simple and I furnished it with a few benches that can be moved around easily.

Art studio, office and events space

It’s really important for me to be able to work somewhere away from the main house. It only takes me a minute to walk down the garden path to the bothy but that ritual creates a feeling of separation between home and work. I use the bothy as a painting studio and admin space, as well as hosting exhibitions of my art during open studio events. One end is a dry end with the computer and my books and the rest is the messy art studio. It works really well.

It’s fantastic to have such a well-designed workspace in my garden. We positioned it so the gable end faces the house and I just love the clean-cut look of it. Every time I see the bothy I feel happy and really proud.