Art Deco by the Sea exhibition set to make waves at Sainsbury Centre
PUBLISHED: 16:07 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:09 01 November 2019
A major new exhibition showing how Art Deco transformed the British seaside between the First and Second World Wars opens at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich early next year. Emma Lee finds out more.
Art Deco by the Sea will explore British coastal culture between the First and Second World Wars.
Curated by Ghislaine Wood and featuring around 150 exhibits, it will look at how Art Deco transformed the seaside as the tourism industry grew - how coastal resorts were established and modernised and how it became the 'seaside style', found everywhere from hotels and apartment blocks to cinemas and amusement parks.
She said: "The exhibition will explore how Art Deco became the key style for pleasure and leisure, transforming coastal resorts and coming to symbolise new values for people experiencing new freedoms. Art Deco had enormous appeal for its glamour and accessibility, which still attracts audiences today."
As Ghislaine explained at the official launch of the exhibition, one section will examine the seaside through the eyes of artists.
In a period in which the fashion was for realism, it was rich in new subject matter for artists to depict, including fashionable modern pursuits such as hiking.
"Many of the artists trained at the Royal Academy or the Slade and it is a great period of debates around painting," she said.
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Work will be on show by artists including Robert Duckworth Greenham, who became known for his Suffolk coastal landscapes, and Newlyn School artists Dod and Ernest Procter.
The exhibition will also examine iconic examples of Art Deco seaside architecture, such as the villas of Hunstanton and Frinton-on-Sea, the Midland Hotel in Morecombe, De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea, which was built to look like an ocean liner.
Modes of modish travel is another of the exhibition's key themes.
As Ghislaine explained, Art Deco was a sign of modernity, efficiency and progress, seen everywhere from posters advertising train travel by artists such as Septimus Scott and Tom Purvis to the deco-inspired interiors of the trains to the rise of the motorcoaches and cars which made the coast more accessible.
The show will also explore how the seaside became a site for innovative modern manufacture, featuring companies such as Essex-based ECKO radios, Poole Pottery, and Crysede textiles, which were all known for their striking modern designs.
The 1920s and 30s also saw the advent of the healthy body culture, when sunbathing, swimming and a host of other outdoor activities became fashionable.
The development of amenities such as lidos and golf courses changed the look of seaside resorts, while holiday camps such as Butlin's provided new types of holiday experience. The show will also explore coastal amusements and activities, featuring Art Deco fashion and the popular culture of the seaside, such as circuses, fairgrounds, pleasure parks, fun fairs and illuminations.
Art Deco by the Sea is at the Sainsbury Centre from February 9 to June 14. Tickets are on sale from December 1 at scva.ac.uk