Another New Year and I find myself in Norfolk, Norwich to be precise, for another few days with another question:- and so what to do this time? It’s been a long time since I have visited the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and I am so pleased I made the decision to check it out.
The title of their current show intrigued me: Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia. It seemed like a pretty broad subject and so it was. I can’t remember a more eclectic exhibition. Paintings sat shoulder to shoulder with old maps, photos, furniture and more and the title itself came from the phrase master piece which used to describe a piece that an apprentice would make to demonstrate their accomplishment and which showed that they had sufficient command of their trade to be henceforth regarded as a master. Hence master piece
The first room was full of faces and each one was looking out from a different moment in history and each had its own story to tell but they were all connected by the simple fact that they all had connections to East Anglia. In modern times East Anglia may seem like it is sitting out on the periphery of things but it is the case that until recent times, in geology terms - barely 6,500 years ago - that this part of Britain was part of the continental land mass of Europe. It still has a special connection to the region of Northern Europe and because of this has been a major economic, political and religious centre for centuries.
As I walked through this vast exhibition of the story of the melting pot that is East Anglia, I was thrilled to learn, amongst other things, that John Hedgecoe took the pic of the queen that was used for the first postage stamp, that Cuban born Peter John Emerson, Walter John Clutterbuck and Olive Edis were forerunners in the late 19th century new world of photography and documented the now long gone ways and people of that life.
I gazed at Gainsbourghs, Constables, a Singer Sargent, a Dufy, three Maggi Hamblings (wonderful!), an Eric Gill, a portrait by Lucien Freud of Cedric Morris and vice versa, the set of prints John Piper designed for the first staging of Benjamin Britten’s Death In Venice at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1973, and amongst my favourites, paintings by Ivon Hitchens, and John Virtue. I said it was eclectic! And it is worth visiting as one of your first exhibitions of this New Year. It runs till February 24th.
Happy New Year!