Sixty Years On... Norfolk Contemporary Art Society show at Norwich Castle from 24 September to Spring 2017
Sixty Years On…
“60 years ago a heated debate in the local paper led to a new society
and a wealth of art for the City”
NORFOLK CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY
SIXTY YEARS ON…
Highlights from the Castle’s Collection
Opening Saturday 24 September 2016 in the Timothy Gurney Gallery,
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
Private View, Monday 26 September, 6-8pm
2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society. To mark the occasion, and to showcase all the works that the NCAS have helped us to acquire over those years, Norwich Castle will stage an exhibition in the Timothy Gurney Gallery, opening on Saturday 24 September.
Keith Roberts, Chair of NCAS Exhibitions Committee commented: “We are really delighted to be working with the Castle again, this time to celebrate our 60th anniversary by showing almost all the works that we have helped the Castle to acquire to strengthen their holdings in contemporary art. This will be an eye-watering representation of much of the history of post-war contemporary art and it will be enhanced by the simultaneous publication of our new fully-illustrated history of the society.”
The Norfolk Contemporary Art Society was founded to “encourage the museum to acquire work in the modern idiom to balance its fine collections of the nineteenth-century Norwich School of painters”. Itformed in 1956 following a debate the previous year, which took to the letters pages and subsequently feature pages of the Eastern Daily Press. The debate was ignited by a sensational exhibition of Contemporary British Art, which was held at the Castle in 1955. The interlocutors, David Carr and Jonathan Mardle, stirred debate on what was considered good art. Each side gathered a team of local supporters and each raised £50 to buy a painting that represented their idea of the best of current British art. The works were presented to the castle for acquisition, with the hope they would be exhibited alongside one another for a time so that the public could decide the verdict.
These two paintings were L. S. Lowry’s Landscape with Farm Buildings of 1954, bought by the Carr team, and Charles Knight’s Summer Flood, North Wales, c. 1954, donated by the Mardle team. Knight was a devotee of Cotman and according to Mardle the work was “magnificent” and in the “grand tradition of landscape painting”. David Carr had more progressive ideas and promoted Lowry, who himself chose the above work, specifically for the Castle.
Despite the exchange of stinging remarks, what resulted was wide public debate, a dual acquisition by the Castle, and the subsequent foundation of the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society. Art appreciation in the city was brought into the spotlight and whatever the tastes of the participants, or indeed the visitors to see the work, overall art was the winner.
In the sixty years since then the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society has continued to assist the Castle in staying at the forefront of collecting contemporary work, and has often emboldened curators to select emerging artists yet to establish their reputation as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Castle, Harriet Loffler, acknowledges: “The Norfolk Contemporary Art Society have been the lifeblood of the modern and contemporary collection at Norwich Castle. With their support we have been able to acquire landmark works by contemporary artists that make the collection alive and relevant for audiences today and in the future.”
Over 50 works have been acquired with help from the Society and this carefully selected show of works from that collection makes a fitting contribution to the society’s anniversary celebrations. A new, fully-illustrated history of the society, Sixty Years On…, is being published to coincide with the launch of the exhibition.
Works by the following artists will be included:
Prunella Clough, Graham Sutherland, Keith Vaughan, Bernard Meadows, Alfred Cohen, Peter Lanyon, Maggi Hambling, Howard Hodgkin, John Hoyland, Colin Self, Ruth Ewan, Rosie Snell, Frances Kearney and Mark Edwards.
Admission Times: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery: Monday - Saturday: 10am - 4.30pm.
Sunday: 1pm - 4.30pm
Notes on Norfolk Contemporary Art Society: (www.n-cas.org.uk)
Since it was founded in 1956, to encourage the Norwich Castle Museum to acquire work in the modern idiom to balance their fine collections of the nineteenth-century Norwich School of painters, the society has acquired its own art collection, which forms the basis of holdings in post-war art in the Castle. Among the items the NCAS has helped the Castle acquire are works by Prunella Clough, Alan Davie, Allen Jones, Peter Lanyon, Wyndham Lewis, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ceri Richards, Colin Self, Graham Sutherland, Howard Hodgkin, John Hoyland, L.S. Lowry, Tom Phillips, and Keith Vaughan. More recently, it has raised funds, often matched nationally pound-for-pound, to purchase sculpture for public places in Norwich. These include major pieces by George
Fullard and Liliane Lijn, and a mural by Walter Kershaw. For the Castle Green, we commissioned a bronze, Parrot Head, by the late Bernard Reynolds and the aluminium Monument to Daedalus by Jonathan Clarke. Mark Goldsworthy's Will Kemp and his Men was hewn from an oak trunk in situ in Chapelfield Gardens, and Ros Newman's Bird Flight is sited in the gardens of Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.
NCAS has always organised and curated exhibitions in Norfolk (see www.n-cas.org.uk ) In addition to our biennial open exhibitions in Norwich in the Forum we have curated newly commissioned artworks that enlivened the house and orangery at Felbrigg Hall, a National Trust property in North Norfolk, with grant funding from ACE. They also supported our curation of four simultaneous exhibitions of sculptures in Norwich by Ana Maria Pacheco. More details and images of our exhibitions can be found on our website at www.n-cas.org.uk. In the belief that raising the profile of the visual arts means effective networking, we collaborate closely with local galleries and other arts organisations such as the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norfolk Museums Service, East Anglia Art Fund, Norwich 20 Group, The Forum Trust and Norwich University of the Arts.
For further information and images contact:
Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at The Castle
Harriet Loffler | T: 01603 493664 | E: email@example.com
Chair, NCAS Exhibitions Committee
Keith Roberts | M: 07771 544916 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We acknowledge support from the following bodies:
Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, East Anglia Art Fund, John Jarrold Trust