Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich - Art and East Anglia

The exhibition was a diverse collection of exhibits and objects with links, sometimes a bit tenuous, to East Anglia. There were sculptures ranging from Elizabeth Frink to ancient Romano-British, gold branks and bracelets from antiquity, silver gilt, the Concort's throne (it's link was through Houghton Hall where it is normally housed), beautiful Fabergé animals.

The exhibition was for me, very successful and included a number of disperate artists, ranging from Anselm Keifer, Mary Newcome, John Constable, Ivor Hitchens, Paul Nash, Colin Self, Cedric Morris, L S Lowrie, John Piper, Fabergé, Stubbs and Claude Lorraine, amongst many others.

The Centre also houses a permanent exhibition which included works by Francis Bacon and the wonderful sculpture of a running man by Boccioni.  The latter for me was the highlight of the day as it was unexpected, yet so familiar to me from illustrations.  It was a moment similar to the one I had in Russia when, in the Pushkin Museum I rounded a corner to be surprised by Degas' Blue Ballerinas, it was so breathtaking.

It was also a delight to see the Mary Newcomb works, The Apple pickers' feast, and Apple pickers going home. They were small pieces but so identifiable as her style.  I believe she worked canvas backgrounds initially storing them ready for use.  It highlights for me the importance of working backgrounds.

There was also work by Venessa Bell using distemper on paper mounted on to canvas, a technique apparently used by Thomas Gainsborough except that he would have used oil as a medium, not distemper.  Another of her works was printed on linen, and this enabled the image to sink into the linen.  A technique that I want to try to emulate using Silk Screen Printing in the same way that Rauschenburg printed his canvas.  This too has the effect of the actual canvas containing the image rather than it being applied on top.

A number of John Piper pieces adorned the walls, which I was pleased to see as I admire his work and feel he is very under-rated, not only for his paintings but for his stained glass too.

The Fabergé pieces was lent by Her Majesty the Queen, presumably from the Sandringham collection, and I particularly liked the Mouse with its delicately set tail in  exquisite small diamonds.

John Constable's Landscape with a double rainbow was on dispay and one oil on paper Study of a cart and horses with carter and dog, which was  sketchy in style and therefore free and more spontaneous.  There were also a number watercolours by John Sell Cotman including Storm on Yarmouth Beach.

A beautiful Keith Vaughan gouache was on display with its subtle colours and interesting composition.  I don't know much about this artist but will certainly look him up.  Likewise there was work by Martin Bloch, whose subtle palette I am now reading more about.

Altogether an inspiring exhbition which could easily be seen for a second time to discover other delights.

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