A look back at Norwich’s arts scene in the final four months of 2013
09:41 30 December 2013
copyright: Archant 2013
The past year has shown Norwich to be a truly vibrant city of culture. In the second part of a two-part series, arts correspondent Emma Knights looks back at some of the highlights of 2013.
From a stunning exhibition of East Anglian masterpieces through the centuries to a packed calendar of festivals, the final four months of 2013 were rich with arts events in Norwich.
In September, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts opened its major show, Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia, which features a treasure trove of exhibits celebrating our region’s rich culture and artistic heritage.
The exhibition, which runs until late February 2014, is the fruit of two years of painstaking work by the show’s curator, former EDP arts correspondent Ian Collins, who selected a kaleidoscope of 277 exhibits from antiquity to the present day that are significant and special to Norfolk and Suffolk.
In the same month, Norwich Castle opened its current show, Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, an exhibition devoted to wonder, awe and mystery in contemporary art and beyond which runs until January 5. More recently, this month Norwich Castle celebrated the opening of new historical displays which are part of Norman Connections, a partnership linking Norwich Castle with Norman heritage sites in England and Normandy.
In September, Norwich Playhouse was the stage for a colourful spiritual spectacle which saw Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery spend five days creating a mandala – an intricate work of art made of sand – before the masterpiece was swept away in a colourful public ceremony and scattered in the River Wensum. The monks, based in India, also presented The Power of Compassion, a performance of masked dance and sacred chant during their visit.
It was festival time once again in October with lots of different festivals for people to chose from, including Norwich Fringe Festival, Norwich Sound and Vision, the Festival of Architecture in Norwich and Norfolk, and the Hostry Festival.
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was the main house play for the Hostry Festival, at Norwich Cathedral, and the festival also presented the second Norfolk Arts Awards as part of its programme. Artist H J Jackson was presented with the Lifetime Contribution to the Arts Award in honour of his 60-year career in print-making. The EDP People’s Choice Award winners, voted for by the public, were Norwich press and communications expert Steve Forster, of SFP Communications, the Holt Festival, and Norwich-based open access choir The Voice Project.
November saw history repeat itself at the Maddermarket Theatre when retired journalist David Newham appeared as Sorin in The Seagull, 40 years on from appearing as Medvedenko in the same Chekhov play about love, loss and art.
This month saw the curtain go up on Norwich Theatre Royal’s annual pantomime which this festive season is Cinderella with a cast that includes soul diva Sheila Ferguson, former Hollyoaks actor Matt Milburn, Christopher Ryan and panto stalwart Richard Gauntlett.
More than 50,000 tickets have been booked for Cinderella so far, and other highlights of the Theatre Royal’s 2013 programme have included hosting the diamond anniversary – and first ever – tour of classic Agatha Christie murder mystery The Mousetrap which has been running in the West End since 1952.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical on rollerskates – Starlight Express – was also among the many shows to take to the theatre’s stage this year, along with West End hit Priscilla, Queen of the Desert which starred Jason Donovan and followed the fortunes of three friends who jump aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship.
Alongside Cinderella, audiences have been spoilt for choice in the city this Christmas with The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Norwich Puppet Theatre and the Snow Queen at the Maddermarket Theatre.
Early events for audiences to look forward to next year include Norwich Puppet Theatre’s Manipulate festival in February, and Norwich Dragon Festival which is making a return in the same month.
The full line-up for the 2014 Norfolk and Norwich Festival in May is also set to be revealed in February.
Do you have a story about the arts in Norwich in 2014? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at firstname.lastname@example.org