Norwich's Barbara Hepworth sculpture finally gets its NCAS plaque
It is some time now since NCAS trustee and sculptor, Derek Morris, designed and made this proper bronze plaque to go with Norwich City's wonderful Barbara Hepworth sculpture, Sea Form (Atlantic), 1964, that sits opposite the Playhouse on St George's Street, Norwich. The unlabelled work was neither well understood nor appreciated and its complex patina was getting eroded by boistrous children. The new plaque (below), paid for by NCAS, has finally been installed by the Council to our great delight! Definitely worth a detour!
Publication of a new book on the 60 year history of NCAS
To coincide with the launch of the exhibition NCAS Sixty Years On: Treasures from the Castle's Collection in the Timothy Gurney Gallery, NCAS has published an updated and fully illustrated book covering the history and activity of the society. Building on the original book written by Robert Short for our 50th anniversary, it has been brought up to date by Keith Roberts and is now fully illustrated in colour. It is given free to all new joining NCAS members and can also be bought from the Castle bookshop, priced at £4.
The book can also be downloaded here
NCAS Art Prize awarded at nca16 exhibtion
The NCAS prizewinner at our biennial open exhibition at the Forum, nca16, is Julia Cameron. Her prize, a years supply of wine, was presented at the private view by Adam Edwards representing our sponsor, Naked Wines (below). The selectors were impressed with her collection of quiet, elegaic landscape photographs of the Edge in Great Yarmouth.
NCAS Annual Art Prize at NUA
Each year NCAS awards a £500 prize to the best work by a fine art student in the degree show at Norwich University of the Arts . This year it was another tough decision for the NCAS trustees on the judging panel. Having fairly unanimously chosen a short list of six, it was harder for the full group then to reach a final decision on the winner. But in the end we have chosen Saskia Jonquil and her set of four sculptures entitled Dirt Candy I – IV. Her cast bronze works of bio-organic forms, metamorphosed into sexually-resonant, imaginary constructions particularly attracted us, as did the immaculate, welded steels mountings. The runner-up was Ellie Davison-Archer, whose delicious and meticulous graphite studies of the minutiae of natural-history objects also charmed us. Brenda Ferris, the chair of NCAS, awarded Saskia her prize in an informal ceremony at NUA just before the degree show opened on the 31st May, and she thanked Joseph Wang who had organized this year's prize process but who could not be at the ceremony.
Saskia Jonquil with her work after the prize giving. . .
The Norfolk Contemporary Art Society will be celebrating its 60th birthday in 2016.
NCAS was founded as a charitable association in 1956 to promote the interests of contemporary art in Norfolk, and special 60th birthday events are planned for this year. Members can keep up to date with events and activities by consulting this page during the year. Check here for details of two major anniversary exhibitions in September.
Ana Maria Pacheco works finally leave Norwich on 15 December after nearly 40 weeks on show!
The exhibition, Ana Maria Pacheco: Sculpture 2015, was held in four separate venues in Norwich and exceeded
our original objectives for both visitor numbers and new audiences. Audiences have been higher than we predicted in our original proposal, partly because of the enthusiasm for the installations in the three non-gallery venues. The work in the NUA Gallery was part of their regular cycle of exhibitions, but even in the 26 days that this show was on, 6192 specific visitors saw the work. At 238 people a day, this is twice the number that they have ever had for their gallery exhibitions, the full range of which is 100-150 a day, clearly demonstrating that new audiences were involved. The work in the Castle Keep and in the two Cathedrals in Norwich was a huge success, such that, with the consent and agreement of the artist and her gallery, the end date has been extended twice, first to September and finally to 14 December. We were delighted that this extension was possible, a total over all venues of 845 days, but more interestingly that it was requested by the venues themselves.
Shadows of the Wanderer leave the Cathedral and line up in the 19 tonner, en route for Chichester Cathedral
Enchanted Garden, Pacheco’s new series of eight polychromed and gilded alabaster reliefs, reflects the artist’s
long interest in the famous medieval alabasters in the V&A and in the Castle’s own collection, and her friendship
with the late Francis Cheetham, Head of the Museum, who wrote the definitive book, English Medieval
Alabasters. This was the first public showing of these recently completed works and they were installed on the
balcony of the Norman Keep near to a new case of some of the Castle’s own medieval alabasters. During the
time they were exhibited, there were about 150,000 visitors to the Castle, of which total we estimate that about
75,000 saw the alabasters.
Audiences in the two Cathedrals are likewise much higher than we, or indeed they, predicted. Peter Doll, the Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral, besides giving the Lent Sermon on the work, wrote the following:
‘We also continue to be struck by the impact the sculptures have on our visitors. No sooner have we put out a few hundred of the free leaflet than they have disappeared. We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve had to
photocopy more. The catalogue that goes with them has been a big seller in our shop. The lunchtime talk that we put on after the installation attracted 130 people even though Ana Maria Pacheco was not able to be there on the day. I cannot remember a time during visitor hours when there have not been people studying, walking around, and photographing the installation. It has certainly brought a new audience to the Cathedral – people who have come to see the art, but who then have also noticed the power of its context (so unlike what it would have in a ‘white cube’) and gone on to see the rest of the building. As a result of this installation, we have an audience that sees the Cathedral in a new light – as a place that not only engages with contemporary artists but also places them in the context of an ongoing tradition of art in and for sacred space.’
Disappointment as ambitious Sculpture project is shelved. . .
We have covered earlier the troubled journey of Mariele Neudecker's wonderful projected public sculpture to celebrate the Norwich School of Painters. Sadly, and with huge disappointment, Sculpture for Norwich (SfN), the charity originally set up with funds from NCAS and the Norwich Society, has announced that it has been forced to shelve the project. Good coverage in the local paper can be found to download here.
That does not mean the end of SfN, however, and they will be moving forward with other ideas for public sculpture in Norwich. See sculpturefornorwich.co.uk for more details.
NCAS Charity Auction at City Hall raises record £11,500. . .
Every two years, NCAS stages a charity auction in City Hall to boost its funds for commissioning new art, and that time came around again on 27 November. This year Selwyn Taylor, Joseph Wang and their team organised a terrific event, which was packed with punters. One of the highlights of the sale was an oil painting by Maggi Hambling, and by the end of the evening we had raised just over £11,500, a record for our auctions. This means we are in good shape to do even more promoting contemporary art in the region over the next two years, which includes our 60th anniversary in 2016,
Sarah Ballard becomes the new NCAS adminstrator
Claudia Milburn has served the Society well over the last few years, but sadly the time constraints of her new curatorial job at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts mean she has had to resign the post of Administrator. We thank her for all the hard work she has done with our membership and we wish her well with her thesis and the new art challenges that she now faces.
We had a fantastic response when advertising the new vacancy, and are now delighted to announce that the new NCAS Administrator is the artist and arts administrator, Sarah Ballard. She has worked with SeaChange Arts in Yarmouth and has held several posts at the Garage in Norwich, but for some time now she has been working at Barrington Farm Trust as curator and project manager for the RoaR Charity, Art Gallery and Archive. We extend her a very warm welcome.
Sarah Ballard and son Toby
Henry Driver wins our annual art prize
NCAS has in recent years awarded a £500 prize to the artist who the committee thinks has produced the best work in the Fine Art degree show at Norwich University of the Arts. And this year was no different, although the competition gets tougher each year. By a clear margin though it was won this year by Henry Driver for his video projection work, A Tender Visions. As well as exhibiting with local art collective, Savorr, he has shown at Tate Britain and Tate, Liverpool. His prize was presented to him (see below) by Brenda Ferris (NCAS) on the 29th June after speeches by Joseph Wang (NCAS) and Prof. John Last (NUA).
Henry Driver with NCAS Chair Brenda Ferris
MANET CURATOR SAVED BY LOCAL ART CHARITIES
The recent net loss of 10 posts from Norfolk Museums Services now has a silver lining, at least for one employee – Heather Guthrie, who has been the Exhibitions Officer at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery for the last 23 years.
The two charities, East Anglia Art Fund (EAAF) and Norfolk Contemporary Art Society (NCAS), have pooled their financial resources and between them have raised the necessary £20,000 for the County Council to secure Heather’s post and its overheads for another year, until early April 2016.
Charlotte Crawley, Director of EAAF, explained. “The role of Exhibitions Officer at Norwich Castle is a key position, and during her 23 years in the job, Heather has project-led a significant number of important and popular shows – from Victorian to Modern (2007) to Beatles to Bowie: The 1960s Exposed (2010), from Titian’s Diana and Actaeon on Tour (2012) to Inspired by Birds: Open Art Show (last Summer). And perhaps most crucially – the phenomenally successful recent exhibition, Homage to Manet, which was originated and curated by Heather and drew in a record 65,000 visitors. Once posts like this go, it is incredibly difficult to resurrect them again in the current climate.”
Brenda Ferris, Chair of NCAS, is equally adamant, “It’s a pleasure and a privilege for NCAS to save this vital post, even if only for one year! Our Society was founded as a charity back in 1956 to help Norwich Castle purchase contemporary artworks to enhance the Castle’s collection for visitors. We are particularly pleased that over the coming year, Heather will be working on several contemporary art shows coming to the Castle, including Jeff Koons: Artist Rooms this Summer Make Your Own in the Autumn, and The British Art Show next year.” Keith Roberts, Chair of the NCAS’s Exhibitions Committee, added that, “Although the Government’s austerity measures led to this recent net loss of 10 members of the Museum Service’s staff, NCAS was both delighted that their funds could help reprieve this one key post, but also saddened by the longer term prospects raised by the funding cuts.”
In recent years the programme of exhibitions at Norwich Castle has gone from strength to strength, and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery is heading for its best year ever with regard to visitor figures, which should total 200,000 after the financial year closed. Steve Miller, Head of Norfolk Museums Service, expressed his gratitude, saying, “Despite the challenges of funding reductions, we are fortunate to have friends like East Anglia Art Fund and Norfolk Contemporary Art Society. We are deeply grateful to both for saving this post for the next twelve months, allowing us to make the most of our coming exhibitions programme and giving us time to review our long term options.”
STOP PRESS: Ana Maria Pacheco is now sadly unable to make this event, but Colin Wiggins has agreed to give the talk himself, and is an excellent speaker. So the event is still on!
From March 17th, 2015, NCAS is curating a series of four exhibitions of sculpture by Ana Maria Pacheco. To accompany these we also have a rare opportunity to hear the artist herself, when Norfolk Contemporary Art Society and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery present
Ana Maria Pacheco in conversation with Colin Wiggins
Friday 27 March 2015, 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm
5.30–6.15 Viewing of her new alabaster reliefs in the Castle Keep. Refreshments.
6.15–7.15 The Conversation will be held in the Castle Auditorium
Seating is limited and this event is likely to be sold out, so pre-booking is essential.
You can reserve your ticket/s by emailing email@example.com
£5.00 ncas members, £7.00 non-members, payment on the door
STOP PRESS: Ana Maria Pacheco is now sadly unable to make this event, but Colin Wiggins, from the National Gallery, has agreed to give the talk himself, and is an excellent speaker. So the event is still on!
Ana Maria Pacheco Talk
As part of Ana Maria Pacheco Sculpture: Norwich 2015, you are invited to attend a free talk given by the artist about the work in the Cathedral
Friday 27 March, 1.00pm in the North Transept of Norwich Cathedral
Shadows of the Wanderer, on display in the North Transept until early September, comprises ten over life-size figures, each carved from a single lime tree, that crowd close together and stand as looming shadows behind a young man carrying an older man on his back. The group recalls the tale of Aeneas, who carries his father Anchises from the ruins of burning Troy, but it also powerfully resonates with contemporary issues, particularly those of exile, asylum, migration and the displacement of people.
Installations of the Works are completed!
Over the week begining 9 March, a large number of people have been involved in installing the works for the Ana Maria Pacheco Sculpture: Norwich 2015 exhibitions across the four sites in Norwich. As an example, here is the 17 ton lorry bringing Shadows of the Wanderer to the tiny door of the North Transept in Norwich Cathedral...
...and here is the work finally installed in place...
Anthony George wins the annual NCAS Prize
Brenda Ferris (NCAS) presents Anthony George with his prize certificate in front of his work
This year's NCAS prize was as tough to choose as last year! From a short list of six artists drawn up by the committee (chaired this year by Joseph Wang), and by a hair's breadth, the unanimous winner this year is Anthony George, for his large set of screen prints on paper, called Visual Delights. These abstract works are a distillation of visual experiences that Tony had while spending a year in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey. Horizons, suns, huts and patterns have all been reduced to a formal minimum and reappear in concentrated colours in these twenty-one vibrant screenprints. A worthy winner!
Frances Kearney: Running Wild at the Castle Museum
Running Wild installation shot
We have reported on this photography exhibition here earlier, but on 6th February most of the works were changed-over to allow the visitor the chance to see other images in the series. At a reception to mark the event, Frances Kearney signed copies of her new book, Running Wild, published by Norfolk Museums (£15). This beautifully produced volume not only reproduces all the images in the series but also contains essays by Adam Phillips, Amanda Geitner (SCVA) and Martin Barnes (V&A). The latter two then held a conversation about Kearney’s practice in front of a packed audience in the Castle Auditorium. Altogether a memorable event, and so if you haven’t yet seen this small but stunning show, do make sure you pop in soon. The show has now been extended until June 1st.
NCAS is proud to have provided the seed-corn money that has leveraged an Arts Council grant to allow the acquisition of one of the large framed works on show and for it to enter the Castle’s permanent collection.
Mary Webb: A new painting for Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
We are pleased to announce that NCAS has facilitated the purchase of a new addition to the illustrious modern and contemporary art collection at the Castle. Mary Webb’s San Filippo IV (version 2) has just been hung in the Timothy Gurney Gallery at the Museum.
Mary Webb’s career spans four decades and has been dedicated to the exploration of abstract form through painting and printmaking. She was a lecturer at Norwich Art School for over twenty years and has been based in East Anglia since 1973. She has been included in exhibitions across the UK including a major solo exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2011.
Webb’s abstract, geometric and flat forms situate her within a tradition of modernist painters, including Malevich, Kupka, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Colour has always been central to her practice and is sought in the landscapes that surround her at home in Suffolk and during her travels abroad. Many of Mary Webb’s works are ambiguously titled with the names of the places that inspired them. She describes the trigger landscape offers in her depictions of form and colour: “my concern is with colour and the spatial sensations and emotions it evokes, frequently linked to the memory of a place.”
Celebrating the hanging of the work are, from left to right, Derek Morris (NCAS), Hannah Higham (Castle) ,Mary Webb (the artist) and Ian McIntyre (sponsor).
San Filippo IV (version 2) is derived from time spent in a village of that name in Tuscany, Italy. The nearby Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence is a favourite of hers. On the outer walls she describes ‘…a stunningly simple geometric design using green and white local marble.’ She talked of wanting to use this stimulus in her work but admits that in the painting’s development the reference became fleeting; the green squares juxtaposed with the coloured ones.
This is a significant acquisition for Norwich Castle - the first work by Mary Webb to enter the collection – which will contribute to their emerging holdings of abstract and geometric work by artists such as Sean Scully, Derek Morris and Ivon Hitchens. When told the news that her work would come to the Castle, Mary Webb said, "it is a great honour to be under the same roof as John Sell Cotman, one of my great heroes".
New grant from Arts Council England
We have just won a new £15K grant from ACE that will fund an exhibition in association with the National Trust at Felbrigg Hall. One of our committee members, Caroline Fisher will curate The Tourists in 2014, showing commissioned work by three mid-career UK artists, The three artists we have selected are Kate Mccgwire, Claire Morgan and Gayle Chong Kwan. All three artists have considerable experience in making art in response to place.
More information elsewhere on the site here
The NCAS annual art prize goes to Rose Davies!
This year, NCAS again continued its tradition of awarding an annual prize to the best work in the degree show at Norwich University of the Arts. This year the selection panel looked at the work of over 100 artists in both the Fine Art and Visual Studies departments and came up with a short list of five works for the full committee to deliberate on. The result was that we all agreed on the work below, Cruach (Gaelic for steel), by Rose Davies (above).
Her sculptures, all in metal, reflected in a calm and reflective manner on her experiences both in the near East and during the period of the troubles in Ireland and the rich and complex iconography that emerged from that. In particular the committee appreciated the complex resonances of her large curved steel piece, Cruach, that in one simple form managed to reference ancient masks, visors, police shields, burkas and observation posts. Graduating from the Visual Studies degree course, sadly in its final year, Rose Davies is our very deserving winner.
The gala launch of NCA12 took place in the Forum on the 16th July. NIna Nannar, the ITV Arts correspondent, hosted the evening, introducing Keith Roberts for NCAS and Tim Bishop, the new CEO of the Forum before handing over to Victoria Savory, who awarded teh Adnams Prize for the outstanding work in the show to Katarzyna Coleman for her two large monochrome studies of Admiralty Road in Yarmouth in acrylic on canvas.
Katarzyna Coleman receives her prize
Rachel in front of her wall drawing
The Norfolk Contemporary Art Society is delighted to continue its long tradition of supporting young contemporary artists as they emerge each year from their studies at NUCA. Recently we have made an annual award of £500 to a NUCA graduate for the best work in the degree show, and this year the prize is awarded to the artist Rachel Kurdynowska for her large Untitled Drawing (see above).
The members of the NCAS judging committee rapidly narrowed their original short list down from six to two works. The first was Theodore Ereira-Guyer’s The surface of the moon, The surface of the solar eclipse and The surface of the moon, a series of three vast multi-part etchings in charcoal ink that showed ambition, imagination and a mastery of technique in their exploration of the majesty and mythical nature of cosmic events. This was, however, eventually itself eclipsed by Rachel Kurdynowska’s large with its ambiguous and unsettling (pre-Uccello) perspective, its bold execution and its knowing and self-referential content. Beautifully drawn, with the process of its own drawing carefully graphed below by pencil shavings, this large wall drawing charmed the judges and swung them over. So, congratulations to Rachel Kurdynowska.
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