Spiritual sanctuary created in hidden space behind Norwich Market

Artist Darren Johnston inside part of his art installation at the Undercroft, called Sanctum, which will be the setting for a dance performance. Picture: Denise Bradley Artist Darren Johnston inside part of his art installation at the Undercroft, called Sanctum, which will be the setting for a dance performance. Picture: Denise Bradley

Monday, April 21, 2014
6:16 PM

An atmospheric journey through darkness awaits visitors to a hidden space behind Norwich Market this week.

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Artist Darren Johnston who has created an art installation at the Undercroft, called Sanctum, which will be the setting for a dance performance. Picture: Denise BradleyArtist Darren Johnston who has created an art installation at the Undercroft, called Sanctum, which will be the setting for a dance performance. Picture: Denise Bradley

Sanctum - a new installation by artist and choreographer Darren Johnston - uses light, haze and sound to transform The Undercroft into an intriguing pathway which people are invited to follow until Friday when a special performance will take place there.

Created following a three-month residency in Kochi, Japan, Mr Johnston said Sanctum draws inspiration from sacred ceremonial spaces and eastern ideas of rebirth which he has tried to recreate using digital technology.

“It’s a little sanctuary of some sort. It’s an installation that is very simple but it has a definite quality to it. You leave the busy daylight of the market behind and you go into a dark enclosure with paths of light that you follow,” said Mr Johnston, who has also worked on his project at the Barbican Centre in London.

“It has this connotation of being inspired by Buddhist architecture but it is kind of like a virtual piece of architecture.”

Visitors to Sanctum must explore the installation alone, with only one person allowed in The Undercroft at a time, because Mr Johnston said the installation was designed to be a “meditative experience.”

Then, at the end of the week, the installation will become the stage for a show featuring a single Japanese performer interacting with the space.

Mr Johnston said he was inspired to used The Undercroft for Sanctum after seeing an installation by Bill Viola there during the 2012 Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

“I like the fact that not very many people know about it as a space,” he said.

“It’s a really nice canvas to work with. Rather than transforming the Undercroft I am using it as it is and subtly elaborating on it.”

Pasco-Q Kevlin, director of Norwich Arts Centre which is presenting Sanctum, said: “It’s hugely exciting to have Darren Johnston in Norwich. He’s been around the world with his work and always creates incredible experiences. This installation is specifically created for the Undercroft and I know it’ll be something special.”

Sanctum is the third project Mr Johnston has done in Norwich. In 2008 his film, Takes Two to Know, was the first of the five Escalator Shorts to be broadcast on BBC Look East, and he also had a stint at Fusion, in the Forum, where he presented his project Inertia in July 2012.

• The installation Sanctum by Darren Johnston is in The Undercroft, behind Norwich Market, until Friday. It is open daily from 1pm until 5pm and admission is free.

• The performance in the installation on Friday, for which a ticket must be bought, is at 8pm. Tickets £10 (£8 concessions). For more information and to book call the Norwich Arts Centre box office on 01603 660352 or visit www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

• What do you think of Norwich’s arts scene? Email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk or edpletters@archant.co.uk and include your full postal address and phone number.

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