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HEAD EAST – Exhibitions, Art, Sculpture & Making

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:


Sean Scully, Venice Stack (2020). Murano glass, 270 x 108 x 108cm © Sean Scully. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Pete Huggins


2023 is the year of outstanding arts and cultural events across East Anglia. Every event listed below is a credit to the worldclass curation that has informed each and every one of these exhibitions and shows.  When you visit, take time to see these AND get off the beaten track to find other grassroots organisations and galleries of makers, artists and sculptors that call East Anglia their home.



Credit: Marco Kesseler

The Food Museum, presents Hedgerow, an exhibition in the recently refurbished William Bone Gallery.

The hedgerow has been fashioned by the human hand: planted to set boundaries for crops and livestock, chopped for fuel and timber, grubbed up for food production, and replanted to improve biodiversity.

The English and Welsh countryside are patterned with hedges. Hedges can appear to us as part of the natural world, but they are made and maintained by people. They are a point at which nature and culture meet.  Farmers and landowners have used hedges for hundreds of years to manage land, protect crops and raise livestock for us to eat. Hedges produce crops in their own right and provide food for people and animals.

Hedgerow, celebrates how multifaceted the hedgerow is; both in its breath-taking beauty and abundance of life. This exhibition explores and celebrates hedgerows and how they have become part of our food system. It is also a call to action to improve their condition. After visiting this exhibition, your walks will never be the same again.

To find out more and to book tickets click here

The Food Museum, Stowmarket, Suffolk. (Runs till 4 June 2023)




Ipswich PrintWeek is a great opportunity for art lovers to buy original works from both new and established printmakers based within twenty-five miles of Ipswich.

This exhibition is part of a weeklong series of events, workshops and courses all related to printmaking and includes the Big Print public art event outside the University of Suffolk at the Waterfront and Terry Gravett, a well-known local printmaker and Associate Member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers talking about his work at Whistler Gallery on Thursday 25th May.

To find out more click here

Whistler Gallery, Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich (Runs 20 till 27 May 2023)




Cuyp Landscape with Artist Sketching c. 1652

With masterpieces on loan from the Woburn Abbey Collection by artists including Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Aelbert Cuyp, David Teniers the Younger, Sir Edwin Landseer and Richard Parkes Bonington.

This exhibition explores the origins of Gainsborough’s landscape art through the examples of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth century paintings in the Woburn Abbey collection collected by the Dukes of Bedford in the eighteenth century. It is aided by the inclusion of comparable drawings in Gainsborough’s hand from the collection of Gainsborough’s House. The exhibition also examines the development of English landscape art after Gainsborough as seen in the Woburn Abbey Collection, and in particular the inspirational role played by the 6th Duke of Bedford in supporting and encouraging all forms of art through his own patronage in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Matthew Hirst, curator, Woburn Abbey said “The opportunity to explore these subjects and bring together familiar masterpieces with a new lens, is made possible by the temporary closure of Woburn Abbey to enable a generational investment in its fabric and infrastructure and the subsequent redisplay of the collections.”

To find out more and to book tickets click here

Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk. (Runs till 11 June)




Copyright ‘The Connor Bros – Illuminated Pussy Riot

Following the huge success of the Moments exhibition at Moyse’s Hall in 2021, this all-new exhibition, will host over 300 works from some of the world’s most renowned artists including Banksy, Blek Le Rat, Pure Evil, My Dog Sighs, Kaws, the Connor Brothers, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sherlock, Swoon, Ben Eine, Bambi, Hush and Lamont White, to name a few.

Sharing this exhibition are three venues: Moyse’s Hall, Bury St. Edmunds, The National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket and The Arts Centre, Haverhill
Urban Frame: Mutiny in Colour will be one of the largest contemporary art exhibitions in the UK, during 2023.

To find out more click here




Credit: Felixstow Floods

Suffolk’s Green Story: Reflect | Learn | Act will explore several themes ranging from the natural environment to agricultural change, through to the impact of our domestic homes and what we can all do to slow down climate change and choose greener ways of living.

The exhibition will feature loaned items from Britten Pears Arts, which reveal the damage done to Benjamin Britten’s home in Aldeburgh during the 1953 floods and scores from Noye’s Fludde, his one-act opera which took inspiration from the floods. The exhibition will also feature collections from British composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, and musicologist Imogen Holst.

Maps demonstrating coastal erosion, documents showing agricultural and natural environmental change and the impact our domestic lives have on the environment. It’s set to be a thought provoking and engaging exhibition to prompt what we can all do to slow down climate change and choose greener ways of living.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
Suffolk Archives at The Hold, Ipswich, Suffolk. (Runs till 18 June 2023)




Best known for his picturesque architectural and landscape paintings, John Piper was also one of Britain’s leading abstract artists during the 1930s. He was part of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears’ creative circle, and they worked together for over a quarter of a century, including on designs for Britten’s most famous operas.

This exhibition brings together over 50 examples of Piper’s work from Britten and Pears’ personal collection at The Red House, Aldeburgh, as well as additional pieces gifted to the Archive in more recent years.

The art at The Red House is a very personal collection, shaped over decades around the two men’s tastes, rather than any desire to create a set of works that is complete or representative: they bought what they liked, much of it mid-twentieth-century British works but also works from other countries and other centuries. Many of the best-represented artists were friends or connections of Pears and Britten, such as Mary Potter and Piper.

Britten’s work was often collaborative: not the result of a composer in an ivory tower, but of someone working with specific musicians and a specific venue in mind, in collaboration with like-minded people from other disciplines within his creative circle. John Piper was a long-standing member of this circle and worked with Britten for over a quarter of a century, starting with set designs for Britten’s 1947 opera The Rape of Lucretia.

FREE to attend.  To find out more click here

Concert Hall Gallery, Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk (Runs till 25 June)




Katherine Jones RA, one of the youngest artists ever to be made a Royal Academician, is known for her lyrical and expressive prints inspired by diverse literary influences and contemporary ecological issues.  The tensions between safety and vulnerability are a central focus. Jones is interested in images that represent a tipping point between safety and danger, where the unexpected lurks.  Her practice, with its roots in watercolour and underpinned by copious drawings, uses multiple printmaking techniques to create her painterly, ambiguous images.

FREE to attend.  To find out more click here

Pond Gallery, Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk (Runs till 27 June)




Twenty years after Alison Wilding’s sculpture Migrant was first installed at Snape Maltings, and to celebrate its proud new setting in the reedbeds, the artist returns to the Aldeburgh Festival with a show of both new and existing works. Sculptures will land in several locations and will include Terrestrial (above) made as a counterpoint to Migrant, and first shown in the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh in 2003.

Co-curated with Karsten Schubert, London.

Alison Wilding will discuss her work with Rosie Cooper, Director of Wysing Arts, on Sunday 25 June at 1.30pm

FREE to view.  To find out more, click here

Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk (Runs till 25 June)




Are you ready to uncover the secrets of Norfolk’s 17th century royal shipwreck? What really caused the sinking of the Gloucester, and what can the mysterious objects recovered from the wreck tell us about the people on board? Finds from the wreck found on the Norfolk coast after being lost for more than 300 years will go on display to the public for the first time since its dramatic discovery in this new major exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery in February 2023!

The exhibition at Norwich Castle tells the story of the Gloucester’s sinking, an event that could have changed history as the future King James II was on board and could have lost his life along with hundreds of others that day.

Today, researchers at the University of East Anglia are starting to unearth the mysteries behind the ship’s tragic end. Their work will reveal the lives of those on board, build a clearer picture of 17th-century society and tell stories of corruption, political intrigue, gossip, scapegoating and class. Learn about the ship in more depth, seeing the ongoing historical and scientific research into the wreck. Uncover the secrets, discover what happened leading up to the disaster, and decide who you think was to blame.

There will be an inaugural conference ‘The Life, Times and Heritage Futures of the Gloucester’ at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May 2023 where new findings and research about the warship will be shared for the first time. To find out more about this event click here

FREE to attend with entry to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
To find out more and to book timed tickets, click here
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norfolk. (Runs till 10 September 2023)



Sean Scully, Crate of Air (2018). Corten steel, 3.6 x 19.2 x 7.2m © Sean Scully. Photo: Pete Huggins

Sean Scully takes over the grounds and historic interiors of Houghton Hall in Norfolk for an exhibition that showcases the full range of the artist’s sculpture as well as a significant group of paintings and works on paper.

Houghton Hall was built in the 1720s for Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, the Sean Scully sculptures in a wide range of materials are sited in the Palladian house and around the extensive formal gardens.

Several new works are included in the exhibition including stacks made of sandstone, wood, glass and marble.   The sculptures range in scale from small maquettes to monumental open structures in steel, such as Crate of Air, and a new Wall of Light sculpture, constructed from locally sourced limestone.

Other works include a selection of paintings and works on paper made over the past few years but with key reference to works from earlier in Scully’s career. These works are displayed in the grand rooms of the house and in the North Colonnade and the Contemporary Gallery.

Sean Scully’s concern for the environment and his focus on nature is reflected in the Smaller Than The Sky title of the exhibition. An important component is his book, Endangered Sky, a collaboration with the poet Kelly Grovier, focusing on the plight of bird life, memorializing those already extinct and those which are close to it, and will be shown in vitrines as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by the art historian and museum director, Sean Rainbird, formerly Director of the National Gallery of Ireland and currently a Senior Curator at Tate.

To find out more, and to book tickets, click here

Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn, Norfolk (Runs till 29 October)



Credit: Yoko Brown, Untitled, 2022

This BIG exhibition celebrates the creative achievements of women in art!

Curated by one of Britain’s most significant contemporary artists – Sarah Lucas – and featuring the work of over twenty high-profile female artists, the BIG WOMEN exhibition will include a variety of works that will make you think, laugh and reflect on the role women play in the creative world.

Works included in the exhibition will range from sculpture, painting, film to fashion, with works by artists including Renata Adela, Erica Åkerlund, Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, Kate Boxer, Yoko Brown, Angela Bulloch, Phillippa Clayden, Sonia Coode-Adams, Vanessa Fristedt, Maggi Hambling, Pam Hogg, Rachel Howard, Merilyn Humphreys, Patricia Jordan, Princess Julia, Abigail Lane, Tory Lawrence, Millie Laws, Polly Morgan, Clare Palmier, Georgina Starr, Milly Thompson, Gillian Wearing, Sue Webster, and Lucas herself.

Inspired by conversations with friends and fellow artists, BIG WOMEN explores the questions and themes relating to womanhood, of societal expectations surrounding age, beauty, fashion and identity; celebrating women’s myriad achievements in the arts.

“So much emphasis in our culture is on youth. When the media wants to arouse our sympathy it’s all about children. The fashion and advertising media concentrates on young female beauty. The older woman is often overlooked, irrelevant, without currency. We live in an increasingly ageist society and this affects women disproportionately.

I see BIG WOMEN as both an endorsement and a celebration of women’s achievement in the creative field. It aspires to be thought provoking, funny, serious, attractive and fun. God knows we need it in these times dominated by male aggression, politicking, greed, war and pig-headedness.”

– Sarah Lucas

FREE to attend. To find out more click here
Firstsite Gallery, Colchester, Essex. (Runs till 18 June 2023)




Credit: Bear Mother Drum

Empowering Art is a ground-breaking exhibition of rich but rarely seen artworks, bringing together exceptional contemporary and historical pieces from across the Northwest Coast of North America.

Developed in close consultation with Indigenous artists and community leaders from across the Northwest Coast, Empowering Art showcases the talent of their artistic and cultural creations on a scale unseen in the UK since the 1970’s.

Bringing a contested past into the realities of the present, the exhibition tells the story of a coastline with distinctive artistic and cultural traditions, where creative exchange is visible in historical objects but also resonates through contemporary art. The exhibition includes works from renowned Indigenous artists breaking the lens of history, such as Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Marianne Nicolson and Susan Point, as well as a new generation of artists reclaiming the power of the present, including Morgan Asoyuf, Phil Gray and Danielle Morsette.

For thousands of years, the vast region that stretches from Washington State in the United States, through the Canadian province of British Columbia and up to Alaska’s Yakutat Bay has been the Indigenous territory of many First Nations peoples. The histories, cultures, and artistic traditions of this region – known as the Northwest Coast – have been shaped by natural and supernatural worlds and forged through exchanges with other Indigenous groups and more recent encounters with outsiders.

As one of the last continental coastlines to be travelled to by British and European explorers in the late 18th – century, the Northwest Coast swiftly became a place of colonial encounters, competing and aligning interests, Indigenous agency – but also disempowerment.

Throughout this period, the cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples captured the imaginations of collectors from beyond its shores, spawning the creation of huge collections of objects in Europe and throughout North America.

Today, despite attempts to forcefully assimilate Indigenous communities and the centuries of trauma they have experienced as a result, the region’s Indigenous artists and communities are reconnecting with their ancestral traditions to carry forward collective histories and experiences, whilst creating new, powerful forms of self-expression.

Empowering Art brings together this rich diversity of material to capture the dynamism and agency of the region’s art, and also to raise important questions about what it means to be connected across continents and through time, while establishing the vital role that today’s museums can play in addressing these legacies and transforming the present.

The exhibition places historical works acquired in some of the earliest colonial interactions alongside paintings and sculptures from the mid-20th-century when modern Northwest Coast art was revitalised. Meanwhile, artworks by some of today’s leading Indigenous artists are put in conversation with small-scale curios of the late 18th – century.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
The Sainsbury Centre, UEA, Norwich. (Runs from 12 March – 30 July 2023)




The Art of Waste is an exhibition which brings creative approaches to the problems of resource use and resilience.
We are thinking about what is waste, where is waste and above all, why is there waste? By exploring these questions, we hope to begin to challenge our perceptions of waste. How can we make better use of it, reduce it and ultimately avoid it.

Left to its own devices, nature does not create waste, it is a human phenomenon. Caused by what? By greed, by bad planning of resource use, by speculative production of surpluses, through short-term profiteering. Too much stuff is produced and then thrown away in useless ways, either in places where it piles up causing pollution, or where it rots. These places and processes are often hidden out of sight. For some time now, Western countries have exported waste for processing elsewhere, further East, or in the Global South.

It is time to think critically about these operations and question the politics of waste.

To find out more about the artists exhibiting, click here
GroundWork Gallery, King’s Lynn, Norfolk (Runs from 18 March till 16 July)




Leading ceramic artist, Julian Stair OBE (b. 1955), displays an important group of around 30 new works in this moving exhibition, from forty centimetres in height, up to a colossal two metres.

Created in response to the global pandemic, Stair’s clay vessels explore contemporary society’s relationship to death and ritual. Taking inspiration from archaic pots and grave goods in the Sainsbury Centre Collection, Stair’s work – ranging from cinerary jars to monumental abstracted figurative forms – invites the viewer to meditate on the intimate relationship between the clay vessel and the human body.

Stair is unique among potters in the UK to be working in such a monumental scale. His largest works have been skilfully hand-thrown before being fired in large industrial kilns, and he spends months in an industrial setting making and firing the vast forms. He uses naturally occurring clays for their subtle colours and textures, which produce a rich earth-based palette ranging from burnt umber to yellow ochre after firing. The tactile surfaces and undulating curves capture the essence of the male and female form.

Since 2000, the themes of containment and embodiment have become central to Stair’s intensely personal artistic practice. The artist has made cinerary jars and memorial-based commissions for individuals. Reliquary for a Common Man (2012) was created in memory of Stair’s uncle-in-law, Les Cox, and displayed in the exhibition Quietus (Somerset House). Working closely with Cox’s bereaved family, Stair eulogised Cox’s life through text and video, and commemorated his death by incorporating his ashes into the clay body of an urn.

In connection with the exhibition, the Sainsbury Centre and Julian Stair have been working closely with the charity Cruse Bereavement and Norwich Death Cafe to facilitate open conversations about death and grief. Stair’s engagement with the local community has led to the donation of ashes of people who have recently died. Donors have expressed their wishes to have these ashes embedded in the clay or contained within Stair’s figural jars to create permanent memorials to their loved ones. With great sensitivity Stair uses the scale, proportion, and material composition of his jars to invoke the physical and spiritual presence of the deceased. The embodied cinerary jars will be donated to the families following the exhibition.

Positive and uplifting, Stair’s exhibition reveals humanity’s reliance on art as a means to transcend death, loss and the unknown. Art, Death and the Afterlife is a contemplative experience, created to offer solace to those experiencing bereavement in these troubling times.

Stair’s new ceramics will be presented alongside objects from the Sainsbury Centre’s collection, such as ancient Cycladic marble figures and anthropomorphic vessels from Ecuador, Nigeria and Japan; twentieth-century drawings by Alberto Giacometti; and contemporary works by artists Magdalene Odundo and Imran Qureshi. All these works have been selected by the artist to communicate the universality of death as a subject of aesthetic inspiration and philosophical inquiry.

To find out more and to book tickets, click here
The Sainsbury Centre, UEA, Norwich. (Runs from 18 March till 17 September 2023)



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