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Norfolk’s 2017 arts highlights show it is a true county of culture

PUBLISHED: 16:50 27 December 2017 | UPDATED: 00:19 29 December 2017

Gary Barlow performing in Take That's Wonderland show at Carrow Road.

Photo: Sonya Duncan

Gary Barlow performing in Take That's Wonderland show at Carrow Road. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Archant

Norfolk has proved itself to be a rich and varied county of culture over the last 12 months. Arts correspondent Emma Knights looks at just some of the arts highlights during 2017

Roger Law, co-creator of the TV satire series Spitting Image, at his exhibition 'From Satire To Ceramics' at the Sainsbury Centre, with his nose pressed against the glass of the display of his latest puppet, Donald Trump. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Roger Law, co-creator of the TV satire series Spitting Image, at his exhibition 'From Satire To Ceramics' at the Sainsbury Centre, with his nose pressed against the glass of the display of his latest puppet, Donald Trump. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From pop superstars Take That heading to Carrow Road to a Donald Trump puppet being unveiled by Spitting Image co-creator Roger Law at Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre, it has certainly been an interesting year for the arts in our county.

Every year it seems Norfolk’s cultural scene gets more vibrant, and that was certainly the case for 2017.

Audiences enjoyed a packed calendar of entertainment, many events sparked huge debate, and a great deal have flown the flag for our city and county on the national and international stage.

Mark Owen performing at Carrow Road during Take That's Wonderland tour. Photo: Sonya Duncan Mark Owen performing at Carrow Road during Take That's Wonderland tour. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Following a visit by Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley to Norwich University of the Arts in November, there have been calls for Norwich to bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.

And the 2017 highlights below show that, even without this official title, we are already lucky enough to be living in a great city and county full of culture.

Classic Ibiza at Blickling Hall. 
Urban Soul Orchestra conducted by Stephen Hussey along with DJ Goldierocks performing on stage.

Picture: James Bass Photography Classic Ibiza at Blickling Hall. Urban Soul Orchestra conducted by Stephen Hussey along with DJ Goldierocks performing on stage. Picture: James Bass Photography

MUSIC

Take That treated 60,000 fans to one of Norwich’s biggest ever pop music events when the band brought the Wonderland tour to Carrow Road.

The two gigs were a sure sign Norwich is fast making a name for itself on the national music scene.

The Great British Prom at Blickling Hall. 
National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anthony Inglis and joined by Welsh male vocal group Only Men Aloud, Soprano Annette Wardell and The Norwich Pipe Band. 

Picture: James Bass Photography The Great British Prom at Blickling Hall. National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anthony Inglis and joined by Welsh male vocal group Only Men Aloud, Soprano Annette Wardell and The Norwich Pipe Band. Picture: James Bass Photography

Many outdoor music concerts also pulled in the crowds, and they included Blicking Hall hosting Classic Ibiza and the Great British Prom, Holkham Hall hosting Tom Jones and UB40, and Earlham Park hosting Little Mix and Let’s Rock Norwich.

The Royal Norfolk Show, which had Celebrating The Arts as one of its themes, formed the huge county-wide choir Showstoppers, which closed the show with a special performance.

Classical music highlights included Norwich Philharmonic Society continuing its quest to play all the Mahler symphonies and performing the 9th Symphony.

Tony Hadley performing at Let's Rock Norwich! 2017. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER Tony Hadley performing at Let's Rock Norwich! 2017. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

LITERATURE

A new chapter began at Norwich’s Dragon Hall as building work started on the National Centre for Writing project being led by Writers’ Centre Norwich.

National Centre for Writing breaking ground celebrations at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Writers' Centre Norwich chief executive, Chris Gribble with poets Ruby Pinner and George Szirtes. Picture: ANTONY KELLY National Centre for Writing breaking ground celebrations at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Writers' Centre Norwich chief executive, Chris Gribble with poets Ruby Pinner and George Szirtes. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich store the Book Hive found itself at the centre of fierce debate when The Woman in Black author Susan Hill cancelled an event and branded the store an “anti-Trump bookshop.” While MP Michael Gove spoke out in support of Ms Hill, a huge amount of people – including authors Sarah Perry, Joanne Harris and Patrick Ness – leapt to the defence of the London Street shop.

VISUAL ARTS

The Fiji High Commissioner to the UK, Jitoko Tikolevu shows the Queen some of the exhibits during her visit to the Fiji Exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Fiji High Commissioner to the UK, Jitoko Tikolevu shows the Queen some of the exhibits during her visit to the Fiji Exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A visit from the Queen to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts’s Fiji exhibition kicked off a busy year for the venue, which was cast into the spotlight many times.

Sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley sparked enormous debate. Meanwhile, Spitting Image co-creater Roger Law unveiled his new Donald Trump puppet to the world for the first time at the venue. A huge red tower – a model of Tatlin’s Tower – sprung up outside the venue for The Russia Season exhibitions.

Norwich Castle found itself hitting the headlines when an international art mystery involving its Magritte painting The Human Condition was finally solved.

Giorgia Bottinelli, curator of historic art at the Castle Museum, pictured with the Magritte painting La Condition Humaine. Picture: ANTONY KELLY Giorgia Bottinelli, curator of historic art at the Castle Museum, pictured with the Magritte painting La Condition Humaine. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The painting hides part of Magritte’s missing work The Enchanted Pose, with other parts found in New York and Stockholm, and the final piece was discovered in Brussels in November.

Up in north Norfolk, Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Long used Houghton Hall as his canvas for his latest show of art in the landscape, called Earth Sky.

The Earth Sky exhibition at Houghton Hall. Pictured is artist Richard Long with the work A Line in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt The Earth Sky exhibition at Houghton Hall. Pictured is artist Richard Long with the work A Line in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

THEATRE

This year’s huge array of festive shows crowns a great year for the stage.

Among them, Sleeping Beauty is proving a dream of a pantomime at Norwich Theatre Royal, Little Red Riding Hood is inspiring the youngest of theatre-goers at The Garage, Thursford Christmas Spectacular was yet again a sold-out success, and newly-revamped Diss Corn Hall is presenting Aladdin as its first professional pantomime.

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2017 pantomime Sleeping Beauty. 
Photo: Simon Finlay Photography Norwich Theatre Royal's 2017 pantomime Sleeping Beauty. Photo: Simon Finlay Photography

Mamma Mia! was one of the Theatre Royal’s biggest 2017 shows.

Meanwhile, the Cromer Pier Show celebrated 40 years, comedy legends The Nimmo Twins opened the newly-refurbished Norwich Playhouse, and Norwich-based curious directive took theatre into virtual reality with Frogman at Norwich Arts Centre.

The Nimmo Twins, Karl Minns, left, and Owen Evans, in the newly refurbished auditorium at the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Nimmo Twins, Karl Minns, left, and Owen Evans, in the newly refurbished auditorium at the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

HERITAGE

Norwich Castle’s Nelson and Norfolk exhibition attracted more than 50,000 visitors over nine weeks – making it one of the castle’s most popular exhibitions.

The exhibition’s centrepiece was a huge Tricolor flag captured by Admiral Lord Nelson’s men and displayed for the first time in a century.

Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY Nelson and Norfolk exhibition at Norwich Castle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Meanwhile, work continues to gather pace on the £13.5m Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England project aiming to return the castle’s keep back to how it was in its days as a medieval royal palace, and the Keep Giving public campaign has to date raised more than £17,500.

FESTIVALS

Seshni Mohammed and her daughter Samia at the Museum of the Moon at The Forum during the 2017 Norfolk and Norwich Festival. 
Byline: Sonya Duncan 
Copyright: Archant 2017 Seshni Mohammed and her daughter Samia at the Museum of the Moon at The Forum during the 2017 Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

King’s Lynn Festival, Holt Festival, Norwich’s Lord Mayor’s Celebration and Great Yarmouth’s Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts were just some of the great events.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival saw an impressive moon installation land at The Forum and other highlights included people watching the show Rear View from the back of a moving bus, and the Assembly House hosting The Voice Project’s choral sleepover.

A Hostry Festival highlight was the Norfolk Arts Awards, which paid tribute to stage and screen legend Sir John Hurt, who died in January, and which also revealed the EDP People’s Choice Awards winners to be Lost In Translation Circus, The Common Lot’s show Come Yew In!, and young musicians’ champion Annie Catwoman.

The EDP People's Choice Awards winners - Come Yew In!, Lost in Translation Circus and Annie Catwoman - at the 2017 Norfolk Arts Awards winners at Norwich Cathedral's Hostry.
Photo: Simon Finlay Photography The EDP People's Choice Awards winners - Come Yew In!, Lost in Translation Circus and Annie Catwoman - at the 2017 Norfolk Arts Awards winners at Norwich Cathedral's Hostry. Photo: Simon Finlay Photography

Red Card Comedy Club, which was celebrating its 15th year, once again brought Laugh in the Park to Chapelfield Gardens.

FILM AND TELEVISION

Filmmaker Rob Whitworth has created a short film for Norwich Cathedral called Norwich...a story. Pictured is a scene from the film. Image: Rob Whitworth Filmmaker Rob Whitworth has created a short film for Norwich Cathedral called Norwich...a story. Pictured is a scene from the film. Image: Rob Whitworth

Norwich Cathedral’s role in the film Tulip Fever was finally revealed to American audiences, but mystery still surrounds the film’s UK release date.

The landmark also featured in Bafta-winning filmmaker Rob Whitworth’s short film Norwich... A Story, which proved a social media hit and attracted the attention of Hollywood star Russell Crowe.

Former Canaries star Justin Fashanu was the subject of new film Forbidden Games. Meanwhile, former City College Norwich student Mark Everson was one

A still from the film Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story.
Image: supplied by DawBell A still from the film Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story. Image: supplied by DawBell

of the editors of Paddington 2.

News broke in December that Norwich City Council had expressed an interest to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for Norwich to become Channel 4’s new home when it relocates from London.

Norfolk actress Olivia Colman was also announced as taking on the role of playing the Queen in the next series of Netflix drama The Crown.

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