Well, what a week we have had. Not only did the British Art Show launch a week ago amidst torrential rain, but we woke up to the decision that British people had, by a small majority, voted to leave the European Union. Not in Norwich however where there was a significant majority that wanted to remain, myself amongst them. The small overall majority 52%/48% is a bitter gall for many people and it is an issue that has divided the country, sent all of the political powers into chaos and deeply affected the whole of Europe - in fact the World, as economic shockwaves have been felt everywhere. It has been so much in the news that I am sure that I don't need to bang on here except to say that I hope that those of us involved in the arts and culture sectors can use our skills to try and influence the mood to quell the isolationist, racist and homophobic atmosphere that seems to be taking a hold in the space that has been created.
So, onto the British Art Show8. I hope that it has not escaped your attention but knowing how busy everyone is and hard it is to keep up, I am going to try and guide you through BAS8 in instalments as I catch up with it myself. Much of the work is the kind that baffles many people (me included) without any explanation but I have found that once I understand a bit more, I get a lot more out of visiting contemporary exhibitions. I think BAS8 is a good example of this so I would say, take advantage of any guided tour that is offered and if you go to one of the exhibiting galleries under your own steam, don't be afraid to ask - it won't only be you that is baffled and the stewards will be only too happy to tell you what they know. You can find out all about it here. There are also lots of extra events - next week (6 July) there is a talk by Alan Kane and on 13 July there is a talk by artist Mikhail Karikis. On the website are details of events and also every day there are featured artists.
The show is hosted at Norwich Castle (charges apply)* and Norwich University of the Arts (St George's Building) (admission free), East Gallery NUA (on the corner of Bridewell Alley and St Andrew's Street) as well as one piece in the Forum
* Adult: £6.50, Concession (over 65s): £5.50, Child (age 4-18): £4.50 - there are lots of other deals and concessions and you can go in for an hour before closing for just £2
So what is my impression? I went to the launch night which was a dazzling series of venues, people, artists, performances and artworks all liberally seasoned with downpours and storms. It was hard to really see much of the actual work under the circumstances but there were some special performances - most notably a performance art piece which included a professional soprano singing the words displayed on a scrolling digital board - the piece is called Cally Spooner, Damning Evidence Illicit Behaviour Seemingly Insurmountable Great Sadness Terminated In Any Manner which expressed disappointment in cyclist Lance Armstrong. It fascinated people at the launch to be so close to an opera singer and the acoustic of the Castle galleries meant that there was a really full and rich sound.
I also realised that I needed to go back and investigate the work - there are over 100 pieces over the 4 venues it was impossible to spend enough time in one go. I want to go back and watch Rachael Maclean's film which is an hour long - and I am a member of the East Anglia Art Fund (membership £25 a year) which enables me to go back to the Castle as often as I want to but even if you are not a member (it is worth joining though) you can go in for £2 for an hour before closing ie 3.30pm. So my approach is going to be to go back to a different part each week and digest it gradually rather than let myself be overwhelmed by a lot of work that actually needs some time spent to get the most out of it. I realise that not everyone will be motivated to do this so I will blog regular reports on how I am getting on - follow me on the www.artinnorwich.org.uk blog if you want a bit of help in unwrapping BAS8 in Norwich - one of the biggest art events in Norwich for years. The show is here until 3rd September so you can afford to take your time to enjoy it.
But don't forget, there are loads of other art events going on, not least the wonderful Giacometti show at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. As well as work by Giacometti there is also work by a number of other artists who were his contemporaries. It is beautifully exhibited in the lower galleries of the Sainsbury Centre, an oasis of the highest quality art underground and tucked away but nevertheless really well worth making time for - you have a sense of seeing something really special.
This weekend the Lord Mayor's Celebrations and the Urban Art Fair will be filling the centre of Norwich. The Urban Art Fair is a new event and will be on St Peter's Street on Sunday 3 July. The city centre will be buzzing and it will be worth checking out road closures and any other obstacles to getting around the city this weekend - but come in by bus or bike and get involved in the fun.
The Undercroft, Norwich
2nd July – 17th July 2016
Also in the city centre is a new exhibition in the Undercroft beneath the Memorial Gardens called Constellation curated by NUA tutor Carl Rowe. Constellation is a project featuring staff and alumni from Norwich University of the Arts and The Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam
Wednesday – Saturday 12noon – 6pm
Sunday 12noon – 4pm
Inaugural exhibition at the new Hudson Gallery, Hudson Architects St Andrew's Street -
Solidity and Transparency - new works by Philip Walmsley
Hudson Architects are well-known in Norwich and beyond for their work on a number of arts building eg Open at the old Barclay's Bank building and soon to work on the Castle Keep. They recently moved into new premises in St Andrew's Street and saw the opportunity to turn their meeting room into a gallery space. It has a large window facing the street. The first exhibition is by Philip Walmsley whose pencil works are graphical representations of the internal spaces of buildings, the volume inside. Philip was an ideal choice for this space as the subject matter is both architectural and creative.
The gallery is within a working architectural practice so the current exhibition will be open to the public every Thursday from 12pm - 2pm. If you would like to visit at other times from Monday to Friday, please contact email@example.com to arrange an appointment. See more details on the website.
Skippings Gallery in Great Yarmouth has the Yarmouth 5 exhibiting
Exhibition runs from Saturday 25th June to Saturday 23rd July, open Wednesdays to Saturdays 11am to 4pm
Skippings Gallery, 133 King Street, Great Yarmouth, NR31 6SW
Norwich 20 Group new exhibition Eastern Horizons at The Forum 4-15 July
Norwich 20 Group annual show featuring work by over 70 artists, called 'Eastern Horizons' from Monday 4 July with a private view from 6.30pm that evening - all welcome! Show continues until 15 July.
At The Garage Chapelfield tonight Friday 1 July 8pm
Dame Nature is a bearded lady who has been looking after her facial furniture for as long as she can remember. And she just can’t stop combing over the past. Join her as she contemplates the fading roar of the crowd, lost love and the merits of Phil Collins’ solo work.
see www.thegarage.org.uk for booking details
At The Wharf Academy tonight Friday 1 July
Acoustic Night curated by creative intern Sarah Harrington - see
www.facebook.com/events/899886950137943 for details
WOW Music Festival 2016
If you fancy a trip out of Norwich, don't forget the WOW Festival just outside Diss. There is camping and lots of music including the Undertones and CC Smugglers - find out more here
Jimmy Cauty's ADP Riot Tour comes to Norwich in August
For those of you that clocked Banksy's dystopian art installation Dismaland Bemusement Park in a derelict resort in Weston-super-Mare in 2015 but weren't able to get there, a taste of it is coming to Norwich 1-3 August. Artist Jimmy Cauty was one half of the band KLF which rose to fame in the 80s and who achieved fame/notoriety by burning £1million pound notes in Scotland. Jimmy's contribution to Dismaland was a dystopian model village depicting riots and disaster scenes - miniature figures in tiny scenarios complete with flashing lights and florrie jackets. Now the village has been rebuilt in a 40foot shipping container and is touring riot sites in the UK this year.
As Norwich can claim several riots including the Priory Riots in 1443, Kett's Rebellion in 1549 (performances of which you can see at various places around Norwich this weekend by players Common Lot) and the Poll Tax riots in 1990 the shipping container will be installed on the Forum amphitheatre area from 1-3 August where you will be able to see the miniature scenes through peepholes. This is a great coup for Norwich as it is a major artwork for 2016 which has a sense of fun whilst being thought-provoking at the same time. The idea apparently started with Jimmy's mini disaster scenes in jam jars.
There will be more info about this in the next week or two but if you have any info about riots in Norwich or want to get involved in another way, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also be looking for people to 'steward' the container during its stay and to talk to members of the public about the installation so if that interests you and you have some time, please let me know.
There is a smaller version of the installation at the Royal Academy Summer Show - it's for sale for £46,000!
Cley Contemporary Art Exhibition - Cley 16 In Norfolk Now
This popular annual show launches on 6th July and is open to the public from 7 July to 7 August at St Margaret's Church Cley-next-the Sea and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre at Cley and other venues in Cley. It is curated by architect and artist Hugh Pilkington this year and features work by 72 artists. There is also a series of curator's talks, concerts, workshops and other events. It is worth a trip out to this exhibition which brings high quality art opportunities to north Norfolk. Find out more at www.cleycontemporaryart.org
Launch of the Shoe Factory Social Club at St Mary's Works
Recently, two major factory sites in central Norwich have been bought by London-based developer Architekton, headed up by Dominic Richards who describes himself as a 'local boy'. As well as a London base he has a home in Suffolk and has an affinity with Norwich. As part of the development, Architekton are establishing a creative 'meanwhile use' by allowing part of the St Mary's Works building (the bit that used to be called Hymns Ancient and Modern) to be used for exhibitions, performances, film showings and more, so keep an eye out for news about what's on as there are events already booked in such as a showing of the film Kinky Boots, directed by Julian Jarrold about, strangely enough, a shoe factory - brilliant film.
Architekton are also working with some creative/community groups including Norwich Hackspace who will be moving in to one of the disused buildings in August if all goes to plan. Eventually the sites will be developed for mixed use - homes, shops, restaurants etc so it could be a real boost for the north side of the city - you can read more about it here but it is definitely a space to watch. Here's a link to an article.
East Meets West: International Obsidian and Flint Conference in Thetford
14-16 July 2016
This July join Ancient House for a fascinating three day conference bringing together specialists in the archaeology and use of obsidian and flint. Marking the occasion of the first ever formal twinning of archaeological sites; Grimes Graves and the Hoshikuso Obsidian Mines, East Meets West will explore commonalities and differences in approach between The Brecks and Japan, and consider how a comparative approach can enhance our understanding of the development of lithic technologies in both regions.
In summer 2016, this relationship will be confirmed through the formal twinning of Grimes Graves and the Hoshikuso Obsidian Mines. This conference will form part of a series of events in Thetford and the surrounding area marking this occasion.
Each day of East Meets West has been designed to appeal to a different audience, with activities ranging from lectures to live flint knapping and crafts! On Thursday 14th July local school children will have the chance to experience university–level lectures and workshops. This will include exploring flint architecture in the town, a guided tour of our Flint Rocks! exhibition, a flint knapping workshop and a study of Jomon (Japanese Neolithic) cooking. All for free!
The East Meets West international conference on Friday 15th July will see guest speakers from around the world share knowledge on the studies of obsidian and flint. Guest speakers will include Dr Simon KANER (Sainsbury Insitute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and University of East Anglia, Norwich), Peter TOPPING (Historic England), Professor SATO Hiroyuki (University of Tokyo, Japan), Professor ONO Akira (Former Director of the Center for Obsidian and Lithic Studies, Meiji University, Japan), Professor YAJIMA Kunio (Meiji University, Japan) and Dr Nick ASHTON (The British Museum). The conference will be taking place at the Carnegie Room in Thetford and booking is essential.
When speaking about the conference Oliver Bone, Ancient House Curator said: “We are excited to invite such prestigious guest speakers from around the world to join us here in Thetford for what promises to be a fascinating event!”
The final day of East Meets West is the free Family Flint and Obsidian Fun day from 10am to 4pm at Ancient House, Kings House Gardens and Thetford Priory. This is your chance to get hands on with flint, meet a Napoleonic soldier wielding a flint lock musket, try your hand at obsidian knapping and even taste some Jomon stew! Plus the chance to get creative with clay, play a range of Tudor games and even win a prize or two!
The conference is organised by Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, the Brecks-Nagawa Exchange Committee, and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, in conjunction with: Thetford Town Council, the Centre for Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich; English Heritage; Meiji University Center for Obsidian and Lithic Studies; Nagawa-macgi Obsidian Museum; University of Tokyo, Faculty of Humanities.
To book your students onto the Schools Day 14th July please contact email@example.com
To book onto our Conference on 15th July visit Leaping Hare – Thetford’s Great Information Centrehttp://leapinghare.org/
For more information please visit our website: http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/Visit_Us/Ancient_House/East_Meets_West/index.htm or contact us on: 01842 751974.
Don't forget our regular What Next? meetings, normally at Norwich Playhouse on Wednesdays at 1pm-2pm. It's an opportunity to get together with other people interested in the arts in Norfolk and to talk about issues facing people working in the arts as well as a chance to tell otherpeople what you are doing. There is normally a speaker but it is an informal meetup. You can sign up for updates at www.whatnextnorfolk.org.uk