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HEAD EAST – Abstraction, atmosphere and audiences

The East has long been a draw for artists and creatives, inspired by the landscape and the light from our big blue skies and bucolic sunsets. New exhibitions are now showcasing works in unique settings which add to their impact. Here are a selection of ideas to stimulate, intrigue, confront, enlighten and entertain:




The Old Order and the New. PH Emerson

A new exhibition of photography will open at the University of East Anglia this November. Finding Emerson will see contemporary photographs of Great Yarmouth displayed alongside images of East Anglia by pioneering Victorian photographer Peter Henry Emerson at the Enterprise Centre on campus. The images in Finding Emerson were taken by residents of Great Yarmouth who took to the streets of the town as part of the 2021 ‘Finding Emerson Photo Festival’ to snap shots of their view of where they live. The wide range of pictures show a couple enjoying an ice cream on a tandem mobility scooter, a driver sitting in a pink hatchback and a woman posing with her dogs on South Quay. They highlight local people and scenes which show the familiar, the funny and the interesting from behind a camera lens.

These modern images will be displayed alongside photographs by Peter Henry Emerson, a Victorian photographer, artist, naturalist, physician, and writer who was drawn to rural subjects and was fascinated by East Anglia’s traditional ways of life and who travelled extensively across the region. He was born in Cuba in 1856 and moved to England as a teenager capturing images around Great Yarmouth and the Norfolk Broads between 1885 and 1895.

Emerson’s firm belief that photography should be accepted as an independent art form put him at odds with his contemporaries and on a collision course with the established art world. He died in 1936 all but forgotten by the art world he ignited in the 1880s. It took until 1975 and the publication of a book by influential American critic Nancy Newhall, P.H.Emerson: The Fight for Photography as a Fine Art, for the world to realise that he was the great pioneer of modern photography and how, through his determination and weight of belief, he had changed the perception of photography for all time.

On display at the Enterprise Centre will be a selection of works from two of Emerson’s photographic portfolios, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, and Wild Life on a Tidal Water. They highlight his dedication to depicting life as it was in the 19thcentury by embedding himself in the landscape of East Anglia and capturing what he encountered. There are images of marsh farms, the harvesting of reed beds, smelters, punt gunners, eel catchers and their house boats, cottages, wherries and water mills.

The next Finding Emerson Photo Festival will take place in 2023. Devised by Utter Nonsense and Original Projects, the Festival’s home is Great Yarmouth, the town immortalised by the pioneering photography of Peter Henry Emerson.

To find out more click here
Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich (Runs till 18 December)




James Ensor, Squelettes Travestis c1894 © The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp

Suffolk and Flanders are not far apart as the crow flies. There have been connections between them for centuries, ever since Flemish merchants came to Suffolk to buy the coveted wool of Suffolk sheep for Flemish weavers to turn into high-quality cloth. By Gainsborough’s day, in both England and Flanders, new manufacturing processes are already heralding the Industrial Revolution – and the overcrowded towns, the stink and the noise it brings with it.
It’s said that in sixteenth-century Flanders the painter Pieter Bruegel would often make field trips into the Flemish countryside, dressed as a peasant. Back in his studio he paints his famous peasant scenes, full of wry observations. A century later, David Teniers captures that same rural character in his charming pictures of fairs and tavern interiors. And in between those two, Peter Paul Rubens paints the landscape of Flanders as only he can: lush and lyrical.

In eighteenth-century Suffolk, the countryside is Thomas Gainsborough’s preferred subject too. A little later, John Constable follows in his footsteps. Compared to the growing forest of smoking factory chimneys, the countryside offers a reassuring timelessness.

The same changes are taking place in Flanders. An enterprising Fleming – a contemporary of Gainsborough and Constable, called Lieven Bauwens – steals the secrets of spinning technology and smuggles that knowledge back to Ghent, his hometown and a flourishing artistic centre. Ghent becomes the ‘Manchester of the Continent’. By the mid-nineteenth century it’s one of the most heavily industrialized cities in Europe. There is, of course, a price to be paid for that technological progress. Poverty and filth, endemic diseases, squalid slums. And so Flemish painters do what English artists did before them: they move to the countryside.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury (Runs till 26 February 2023)



A heart-warming exhibition of Graham Clarke’s etchings

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 1973: Graham Clarke’s etching ‘Dance by the Light of the Moon’ was exhibited and the edition of 50 copies sold out, launching his career as one of Britain’s most popular and best- selling printmakers.

Responding to the comedy of everyday life, Clarke’s images bring his own brand of humour and romance, past and present, viewed through the eyes of the common man. His work can be seen as part of a British tradition of hand-coloured prints going back to Thomas Rowlandson, commenting on contemporary life, but viewed through a more benign lens. And for him, the contemporary world is part of a social and historical continuity.

The Corn Hall exhibition will exhibit a selection from the five hundred images he has made over the years, with subjects ranging from his love of boats and the sea, an affectionate view of Europe and beyond, comic misinterpretations of British history and domestic scenes of Kentish and Cornish life.

Bill Steel’s Deal, 2018, hand-coloured etching

Curator David Case, who first exhibited Clarke’s etchings nearly 50 years ago will give a brief introduction to his work on Saturday 26th November at 11am. ‘Graham’s etchings, with his signature ‘arched tops’, have delighted and given pleasure to so many over the years, and his fans are wide ranging – from Kenneth Clark, famed as Director of the National Gallery and the ‘Civilisation’ television series to, it seems, the entire Japanese nation where Graham has had dozens of exhibitions each year and has made 22 tours of the country. After 12 years of organising exhibitions at the Corn Hall, this will be my last – so it is a particular pleasure that I will be presenting an old friend’s work to Diss; I am sure Diss will love it’.

The exhibition will also include Clarke’s books, etching tools and plates and other miscellany; all work will be for sale.

To find out more about the exhibition and times click here
The Corn Hall, Diss, Norfolk (Runs 12 November till 7 January 2023)



Visual art collective Easterly Artists are back for the second of its popular annual exhibitions.

Art for All Seasons, explores the impact of the changing seasons on the locale, and the artist’s perception of that impact as the year moves though its regular cycle of changes.

25 artists are taking part, with work stretching across a wide range of mediums, so there will be something to match every visitor’s taste and preference.

To find out more about the FREE Festival and opening times and dates click here
Ferini Gallery, Pakefield, Suffolk (Runs till 8 January 2023)



A 17th century table-top of astonishing artistry, once owned by Norfolk’s famous Paston family, has found a permanent home in the collections of Norwich Castle after a successful fundraising campaign.

The tabletop is an example of the pietre dure technique – although the tabletop looks at first glance to be beautifully painted, its complex patterns of interlacing fruit, flowers and birds are, in fact, entirely made of semi-precious stones inlaid in black marble. Pietre dure, which literally means ‘hard stones’ in Italian, was the name given to this extraordinarily skilled technique.

This example of the craft was made in a workshop in Florence for the Paston family, the famous Norfolk family whose coat of arms can be seen incorporated into the design. It was acquired by William Paston around 1638, forming part of his magnificent collection at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk.

Prior to Norwich Castle acquiring it, the tabletop had always been in private ownership. Its existence and its connection to Norfolk’s history was unearthed through research undertaken for the Castle’s major 2018 exhibition The Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World which explored the Paston family’s extraordinary collection.

When the private owner indicated their willingness to sell the tabletop, Dr Francesca Vanke, Norwich Castle’s Senior Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts, launched a campaign to raise the funds required.

Now that the tabletop is on display in the Country House gallery at Norwich Castle this important and unique acquisition can be properly celebrated.

The story of this remarkable artefact is one of international intrigue and opulence. Pietre dure was one of the most prestigious art-forms of its time, and one of the most difficult to craft since the stones had to be cut and fitted perfectly into the marble ground. The makers selected stones with the best patterns and colours to create a picture as naturalistic as possible. Its appeal was partly due to its sheer luxury, but it also epitomised one of the artistic and intellectual ideals of the time, representing a harmonious union between nature and art.

In seventeenth century, Europe, pietre dure was made in only a few exclusive workshops, based mainly in Florence, Rome and Prague. William Paston visited the pietre dure workshop in Florence, by invitation of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand II de Medici. The Medici family had founded this workshop in 1588 and kept it under close control. They insisted its techniques were kept secret, to maintain the craft’s mystique and importance.

Most pietre dure objects were made to adorn Medici palaces, or for the Dukes to give as diplomatic gifts. Tabletops, being some of the largest items produced, were also the most sought-after, since they were the most technically complex, as well as expensive, to make. We know of only one other English man who had such a table in the early seventeenth century – Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, a close friend and art advisor to King Charles I. That William Paston – who unlike Howard was a commoner – could afford such an extravagant item is a testament to the huge wealth he’d amassed by this point.

The acquisition must have represented a triumph for William when he showed it off to visitors. Surviving letters from his friends speak admiringly of Oxnead Hall’s treasures, but this tabletop suggests that William aspired to be a collector in a similar league to Duke Ferdinand himself: not just wealthy, but also learned, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan.

The English Civil War of the 1640s saw a decline in the Paston family’s fortunes – within less than a century, they were bankrupt and by the 1730s their sumptuous collection was broken up and sold off to cover their debts. The tabletop, like many of the treasures which were once celebrated by visitors to Oxnead Hall, disappeared from view until it was tracked down with the assistance of The Yale Center for British Art, which partnered with Norwich Castle for The Paston Treasure exhibition.

Further research into the precise circumstances of the tabletop’s manufacture and its journey from Italy to England is ongoing with many more secrets to be unlocked.

To find out more and to book tickets to see this work of art, click here
Norwich Castle (permanent collections / exhibitions)




The Hold’s autumn exhibition, Picture Books For All, explores the history of Ipswich-based printers W.S. Cowell Ltd. A visually rich selection of books, prints, original artwork and journals will chart the local, national and international importance of W.S. Cowell.

This free exhibition also looks at where Cowell sits in the history of modernism in Britain and examines their significant contribution to literature and society through design.

They became colour-plate lithographic printers and were pioneers of an acetate-sheet based process, called plasticowell, which allowed for an immediate and direct transfer from artist to press.

They went on to become instrumental in the launch of Puffin Picture Books at the start of the Second World War, and worked with leading illustrators and artists including Kathleen Hale, Eric Ravilious, Edward Ardizzone, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse; as well as with national art schools including the Royal College of Art.

Picture Books For All features rare books and artwork from specialist collections, and hidden gems from the W.S. Cowell archive including:

  • Eric Ravilious original drawings and prints from the Royal Museums Greenwich collections.
  • Edward Ardizonne original illustrations from the Tim and Lucy book series.
  • First editions of many favourite titles such as Orlando the Marmalade Cat, Barbar the Elephant and the Puffin Picture Book series.

The exhibition programme includes curator tours, a talk and Q&A event, a film screening, a lino cutting session, and a kids’ printmaking workshop

To find out more and to book time slots or tickets, click here
The Hold, Waterfront, Ipswich, Suffolk (runs 21 Oct to 8 Jan 2023)




The entire world is in deep water.

This exhibition looks at the dangers under deep water. It shows some of the passionate concerns of artists about eco-systems and specie, which are under stress.

We need to see this work to know more and understand better where the stresses are, and how we might act to improve environments.

Deep Water: Women artists innovating with a variety of media to reflect on sea water pollution and dangers to wildlife and ocean environments. Artists include Mary Blue, Aude Bourgine, Colleen Flanigan, Zena Holloway, Julia Manning, Liz McGowan, Dawn Roe, Phillipa Silcock.

Because of global warming sea levels are rising. This exhibition deepens our understanding.

There is increasing ocean acidification from pollution.

Marine eco-systems are suffering.

Biodiversity is being lost at sea as well as on land.

We now know that many of the losses in fresh water, as well as in coastal and open ocean marine systems, are already irreversible. Many coral reefs for example, bleached by ocean acidification and warming, have reached their limits, and can no longer be healed. Coastal wetlands are under stress as seas rise and salt-water encroaches further into land.

Climate change is a result of human bad habits such as, industrialisation, pollution over -consumption. All have contributed and led to climate change.

In looking at artistic responses to major ocean wildlife and habitat decline, we are looking for rays of hope. Not only do the artists show us the beauty in danger, but that creates in us as the viewer the desire to engage, to be involved, to be concerned. Our increased knowledge will lead to greater engagement – and that will be the beginning of our real impetus to change our habits as consumers – and as humans interacting more knowledgeably and carefully with nature.

To find out more, click here
GroundWork Gallery, 17 Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk (Runs 15 Oct till 17 Dec)




This enlightening exhibition finally arrives in Norfolk to settle at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and East Gallery, Norwich university of the Arts, this time with a textiles twist!

At Norwich Castle’s Art Gallery, this latest exhibition of over 20 works by internationally renowned artists, The Singh Twins, alongside artist films and historical material, explores the hidden narratives of Empire, Colonialism, conflict and slavery through the lens of India’s historical textile trade and its relevance to modern day legacies and debates around ethical consumerism, racism and politics of trade. This exhibition, titled The Singh Twins: Slaves of Fashion will focus on the relationship between Britain and India to uncover hidden details of Europe’s colonial past and its legacies.

In a departure for The Singh Twins, most of the artworks in the ‘Slaves of Fashion’ series are mixed media – combining hand painted techniques with digitally created imagery. Eleven of these feature symbolic portraits of historical figures which will be displayed, life-size, as digital fabric artworks on lightboxes to reveal the full intricacy of their design and the eclectic, detailed, symbolic and narrative style for which The Singh Twins are renowned. Each one highlights a different theme relating to India’s textile industry. Collectively they reveal not only the beauty and craftsmanship of Indian fabrics but the political, social and cultural significance of their complex histories. Other works relating largely to narratives around the legacies of Empire depict contemporary figures such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and a British Asian Nurse battling with a covid dragon.

For the exhibition’s Norwich presentation, a partnership between Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and East Gallery has allowed for more artwork and archival material to be included in the exhibition. While the Castle hosts the majority of the artworks in the show, two important and stunning triptychs, Rule Britannia: Legacies of Exchange and Jallianwala: Repression and Retribution, together with related material from the Twins’ own archive and further objects from Norfolk Museums Service’s collections, goes on display at East Gallery bringing The Twins’ work to audiences across the city.

A brand-new artwork by The Twins commissioned by Norfolk Museums Service will be included in the works on show at Norwich Castle. The commission, which is generously supported by Art Fund, the Friends of the Norwich Museums and Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, takes as its starting point an 18th century jigsaw puzzle titled Inhabitants of The World Alphabetically Arrang’d from Norfolk Museums Service’s collection. The work explores and responds to this, and other objects connected to the global story of empire and colonialism, providing new connections informed by The Singh Twins’ own cultural heritage, identity, and experience. This new work will enter the collection at Norwich Castle, providing a permanent legacy for The Singh Twins’ important body of research.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and East Gallery, St. Andrew’s Street. (Runs till 22 Jan)



The Graft, still frame 2, courtesy of the artist

Jefford Horrigan has said he makes short performances, small films, rooted in sculpture but jealous of painting – especially the still life.

For 303 Projects he is making a video installation Ursula, that features a number of his films where everyday objects and actions occupy that dreamlike state of the early sodium hours of morning.

To find out more click here
303 Projects, 303 London Road South, Lowestoft (Runs 19 Nov till 17 Dec)




The isolated space can be a source of inspiration. Exit. No Exit. exhibition at Mill Tye Gallery explores everyday life as documented by Graham Cooper.

Camera and other angles
”I have been making pictures throughout my working life and beyond. During my 35 years in education, I managed a regular output despite the necessary demands of the job. This was often enough to have solo and group exhibitions in Braintree and in the wider region.

Most of this work was of mixed media and semi abstract in nature and I continue to use this process to this day. However, since retiring from teaching my interest in photography has developed, mainly through the introduction of digital processes, which has meant being increasingly drawn to certain forms of image manipulation. This, for me can lead to more nuanced interpretations and creative freedom.

The work is often prompted by aspects of contemporary culture and the human condition and how to comment on and to express feelings that arise from this. In recent years I have shown work at Mill Tye Gallery, Gallery in the Garden, the Essex Open and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In the last two years it has been hard to ignore how the pandemic has affected our lives and this has obviously contributed to the ideas expressed in some of these works.’’
Graham Cooper 2022

To find out more and click here
Mill Tye Gallery, 3 Cornard Mills, Mill Tye, Great Cornard, Sudbury (Runs 19 Nov till 24 Dec)




Set your eyes on three original costumes from Marvel’s blockbuster film, Black Panther.

The Power of Stories exhibition explores Black stories of Suffolk and asks how the stories we tell shape the way we see the world. Featuring original costumes from Marvel’s blockbuster film, Black Panther, this free exhibition also gathers stories from Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears’ archive, local histories, and contributions from our local community, in collaboration with Aspire Black Suffolk and curator Devi Singh.

On 6 November join us for a day for all the family inspired by Black Panther and the Power of Stories exhibition. The bass trombonist, African hand percussionist, and composer Hannabiell Saunders and her Midnight Blue Collective made waves during their recent residency – they will bring their exhilarating fusion of Afro-Caribbean and Latin percussion, Jazz, Afro-beat, Funk and Reggae to Snape Maltings Concert Hall and will be whipping up a party atmosphere on the Concert Hall stage, and Wooden Roots are giving free drumming workshops with instruments featured in the Black Panther film. For a peak at what to expect click here

There will also be a Power of Stories Trail where you can discover Wakandan letters around the Snape Maltings site in the Power of Stories trail and decode the mystery word. Wakandan is the language that appears in the 2018 Marvel film Black Panther, inspired by Nsibidi, a historical and symbol-based language used in Nigeria as far back as 2000 BC.

This is the third location for the original award-winning exhibition, Power of Stories, by Ipswich Museums in 2021. The exhibition is a partnership between the Association of Suffolk Museums, Aspire Black Suffolk and Marvel Studios.

To find out more click here
Snape Maltings Concert Hall Foyer, Snape, Suffolk (Runs 22 Oct till 19 Feb 2023)




A selection of stunning archaeological hoards, all discovered in West Norfolk, will be displayed at Lynn Museum. A significant number of objects will be available to view for the first time including a group of Bronze Age artefacts from the beach at Holme-next-the-Sea found close to the site of the remarkably preserved timber monument known as Seahenge. Also going on display for the first time are some very rare early coins from Fincham.

Hoards – a store of money or valued objects – have long fascinated experts and the public alike with the intriguing questions they raise: why were these objects buried; and did their owners ever mean to retrieve these precious items? West Norfolk is particularly rich in hoards, making this exhibition a perfect opportunity to discover more about the theories behind these spectacular discoveries.

One of the star exhibits is the Sedgeford Hoard, a collection of 32 gold coins, found in August 2003 at Sedgeford, Norfolk during an archaeological dig. What’s truly fascinating about these coins is that 20 were discovered inside a cow bone. The coins may have been placed inside the bone and buried as an offering to the gods. Or they may have been hidden in the cow bone, and buried, to be retrieved in the future. The exact reason behind the hoard’s burial we may never know.

The Fincham Coin Hoard dates back to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period, around 1300 years ago. Struck about 150 miles away in Frisia, modern-day Holland, these small silver coins known as sceattas (pronounced “shatters”) are the earliest form of penny and circulated in England from around 710-750AD. The coins are in good condition, suggesting they hadn’t been in circulation long before they were hidden.

The exhibition also includes the Dersingham Hoard, a large collection of silver shillings found in a silver cup. Discovered in July 1984, this hoard was likely buried in 1643 when King’s Lynn was under siege, during the English Civil War.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
Lynn Museum, Market Street, King’s Lynn (Runs till March 2023



‘Landscape Rebels’ will explore how human impacts, including the climate crisis, are changing the landscape. How has landscape been depicted by artists, makers and people from Suffolk to across the world. Can these Landscape Rebels offer solutions to the environmental crisis?

The exhibition brings together artworks by Turner, Constable and Monet, alongside natural history, costume, and global stories. It will show a variety of creative responses to the landscape.

Contemporary commissions will form a part of the exhibition and events programme, highlighting ways we can engage with nature, art and our landscape.

Landscape Rebels will feature JMW Turner’s painting of ‘Walton Bridges’, widely regarded as the first oil painting by the artist to have been based on oil sketches made in the open air.

Colchester + Ipswich Museums were instrumental in a bid to help save this important painting for the nation when, in 2019, a rescue bid was launched with Norfolk Museum Service. With the aid of major grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund, the Friends of Ipswich Museums and a private donor, this nationally important painting was successfully saved for the East of England and the nation. Further support from the Friends of the Ipswich Museums is enabling us to bring this stunning artwork to Christchurch Mansion.

To find out more and to book tickets click here
Christchurch Museum, Christchurch Park, Ipswich (Runs till 16 April 2023)




Over 150 works drawn from collections in the UK and internationally will examine how ancient Egypt has shaped our cultural imagination. From antiquity, when the Great Pyramid was revered as a wonder of the ancient world, to the Cleopatra of Shakespeare’s stage, this ground-breaking exhibition explores this ongoing engagement with ancient Egypt and charts its many forms across centuries of art and design. The exhibition examines how the iconic motifs and visual styles of Egypt have been re-imagined and re-invented over time – revealing a history closely entwined with conquest and colonial politics.

The exhibition coincides with the 2022 anniversaries of two key events: the bicentenary of Jean-François Champollion’s decipherment of hieroglyphs and the centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

The exhibition will include painting, sculpture, writing, fashion and architecture, alongside photography, film and installation art. It will feature work from artists as wide ranging as Joshua Reynolds, Hector Horeau, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, David Hockney and Chris Ofili alongside works by modern and contemporary Egyptian artists, rarely exhibited in Britain.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here

Visions of Egypt, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich

(Runs 3 September 2022 till 1 January 2023)



Located in the Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park, Usagi Kannon is a towering bronze figure with rabbit ears and a human face. Usagi Kannon offers shelter through their bell-shaped skirt, acting as a protective shrine. Once inside, the small holes shed star-like rays of light creating an encompassing universe around the viewer.

To find out more click here
(FREE to attend. Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, Until late 2024)


For more ideas about art and installations for all ages across ART IN NORWICH & NORFOLK


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