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Art Deco by the Sea at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

Art Deco by the Sea opens at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich in February 2020.

An exciting new exhibition examining British coastal culture between the First and Second World Wars and the Art Deco style, the exhibition will explore how Art Deco transformed the British seaside in a new age of mass tourism.

Art Deco by the Sea

It will examine how coastal resorts were modernised, how new resorts were established and how iconic examples of Art Deco architecture from hotels and apartment blocks to cinemas and amusement parks altered the look of the British seafront. From the Midland Hotel in Morecambe to the villas of Frinton-on-Sea or Hunstanton, Art Deco became the seaside style.

The show will also explore how the seaside became a site for innovative modern manufacture, featuring companies such as Poole Pottery, ECKO radios and Crysède textiles, all known for their striking modern designs. Major seaside employers, these companies produced popular Art Deco styled products exported all over the world.

Art Deco by the Sea

The 1920s and 30s witnessed the advent of the healthy body culture, when sunbathing, swimming and a host of other outdoor activities became fashionable.

The development of amenities such as lidos and golf courses changed the look of seaside resorts while holiday camps such as Butlin’s provided new types of holiday experience.

The show will explore coastal amusements and activities, featuring Art Deco fashion, and for the first time including the more ephemeral, popular culture of the seaside such as circuses, fairgrounds, pleasure parks, fun fairs and illuminations. In addition, a significant group of paintings will explore how a fashion for realism underpinned much imagery of the seaside during the period.

Art Deco by the Sea

The show will include around 150 works in all media including paintings, posters, brochures, drawings, photographs, fashion, furniture, ceramics and textiles. It will be drawn from public and private collections in the UK and features works by Serge Chermayeff, Dame Laura Knight, Gluck, Wells Coates, Oliver Hill, Tom Purvis, Septimus Scott, Truda Carter, Alvar Aalto, Jean Dunand, ECKO radios and Poole Pottery.

Exhibition curator Ghislaine Wood said, “The exhibition will explore how Art Deco became the key style for pleasure and leisure, transforming coastal resorts and coming to symbolise new values for people experiencing new freedoms. Art Deco had enormous appeal for its glamour and accessibility, which still attracts audiences today.”
Art Deco by the Sea