Thousands have flocked to see Masterpieces at Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Guests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve Adams Guests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve Adams

Emma Knights Arts Correspondent emma.knights@archant.co.uk
Monday, January 20, 2014
7:00 AM

A treasure trove of masterpieces celebrating our region’s great culture and artistic heritage has to date attracted more than 23,000 visitors.

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Guests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve AdamsGuests at the launch night of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia a major exhibition of works of art celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Photo: Steve Adams

Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia opened in September last year at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, and features 277 exhibits from antiquity to the present day that are significant to Norfolk and Suffolk.

Former EDP arts correspondent Ian Collins is the curator of Masterpieces, and up to the end of December 23,104 people had visited the exhibition which runs until February 24. In just one day in November there were 843 visitors. Penelope Lucas, marketing and communications officer for SCVA, said the centre was delighted with the response which had exceeded expectations.

She said: “It took two years to put together and it has well been worth the effort. It has been universally and unanimously a success. It has been the biggest thing seen here for years.”

She said the show was a firm basis for the centre to go from strength to strength with future exhibitions.

The Masterpieces exhibition being set up at the Sainsbury Centre. Curator Ian Collins studies Ana Maria Pacheco's The Longest Journey. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Masterpieces exhibition being set up at the Sainsbury Centre. Curator Ian Collins studies Ana Maria Pacheco's The Longest Journey. Picture: Denise Bradley

“We feel that at the Sainsbury Centre we are in a new era. These are national quality exhibitions and we feel we can compete with any London exhibition,” she said.

Among the treasures in Masterpieces are the 700,000-year-old Happisburgh flint handaxe, sitting alongside an ironstone pebble from the same beach, carved into a reclining figure in 1930 by sculptor Henry Moore. Other highlights include a bronze head of Roman emperor Claudius, believed to have been stolen by Boudica and the Iceni tribe in 60AD, and the 1970 Lotus 72.

The centre is running lectures inspired by Masterpieces. On January 23, Simon Thurley, an academic and architectural historian and chief executive of English Heritage,is presenting Building East Anglia: our history in bricks and mortar. On January 30, Francesca Vanke, keeper of art and curator of decorative art at Norwich Castle, is giving the lecture The Social History of Lowestoft Porcelain, while on February 6, Andrew Moore, keeper and senior curator at Norwich Castle, will present Norfolk and the Grand Tour. On February 13, Paul Greenhalgh, SCVA director, will give the lecture The Sublime Avant-garde: Masterpieces of the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau.

• The Sainsbury Centre’s new 2014 opening times are Tuesday to Friday 10am–6pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am–5pm. Admission is free to the permanent collection but there is an £8 (£6 concession) charge for Masterpieces. See www.scva.ac.uk/masterpieces or call 01603 593199.

• The Masterpieces lectures are at Elizabeth Fry Lecture Theatre, at the University of East Anglia, from 7pm on each of the dates. Tickets £8 (£6 concessions). Call 01603 593199.

• Are you putting on an art project in Norwich? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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