Contemporary exhibition sheds new light on Norwich’s medieval art

It is more used to displaying crafts which are centuries old, but now a medieval heritage charity is hoping its first ever contemporary exhibition will help to shed new light on old art.

Journeys Through The Light, which opens tomorrow is an exciting collaboration which has seen students on the University of East Anglia's museum studies course curate the exhibition for Hungate Medieval Arts.

Based in at St Peter Hungate Church, in Princes Street, the 18 artists' works are all contemporary responses to the experience and qualities of light as it travels through medieval stained glass.

Museum studies and cultural heritage student Abigail Dear, 22, from Watton, said it was the first time any of the students had had to organise an exhibition and it had been a steep learning curve, but a valuable experience.

She said: 'We have had to oversee every detail, from the budget finances, raising further finances, designing leaflets, fliers and the exhibitions.

'We had to put out the call for work and chose the art works as a group. We were hugely impressed by the standard of work and there are local artists as well as ones from Scotland and London.'

Fellow student Rachael Murphy, 26, who is originally from Reading but now lives near the university, said the contemporary artwork helps a modern audience to appreciate the complexity of stained glass, and what it must have meant to worshippers in medieval times.

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She said: 'In it's original context, stained glass would have been used to tell stories to people who could not read.

'It would have been a source of meditation because as light comes in through the stained glass it prompts real spiritual feelings.

'Sometimes these qualities can get lost and this exhibition bring out those feelings and understandings.'

Artist June Gentle, from Eaton, produced a series of sculptural ceramics inspired by the small diamonds and shapes of colour found in stained glass.

She said: 'I like the little bits that appear in the glass, where the window has been broken but put back.

'It's nice to do a project that relates to a concrete building as opposed to just an idea.'

Brian Ayers, Hungate's chairman of the trustees, said although it was a new direction, it was absolutely fitting to exhibit contemporary art within a medieval context.

He said: 'We are really grateful to the UEA students, who have done a fantastic job putting out this call and getting such a range of work.

'I'm astonished by the different types of work we have got here.'

The exhibition, for which admission is free, will run from March 16 to July 15, and is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and 2pm to 4pm on Sundays.