Painter’s French tours inspires first exhibition for £3.5m project linking Norwich and the Normans
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Castle officials hope visitors will be au fait with the 11th century attraction's French links – thanks to a painter inspired by his three tours of Normandy.
The first public displays for the £3.5m Anglo-French Norman Connections project opened at Norwich Castle yesterday, 24 hours ahead of schedule.
The two-year programme aims to discover the hidden stories and cultures linking Norman-era castles in south-east England and France, including Norwich, Colchester, Hastings, Rochester, Caen, Falaise and Bayeux.
John Sell Cotman: A Picturesque Tour of Norfolk and Normandy, will be on show at the castle until March 2014, and explores the work of the renowned Norwich-born artist, particularly from his tours of the Normandy region.
He visited in 1817, 1818 and 1820 to understand the architecture of the province but is said to have also been captivated by the landscapes. The display of Cotman's work includes drawings, watercolours and prints.
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The second exhibition is Gerard Stamp: Conquest, which runs until September 29. Contemporary artist Mr Stamp, a former Norwich Cathedral School pupil, has previously painted and sketched many of Norfolk's Norman buildings.
Mr Stamp, in an introduction to his exhibition, said he would often visit Norwich Castle to study Cotman's work.
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He added: 'I have painted and sketched most of this buildings many times before but was delighted to have an excuse to revisit and interpret them anew to try to convey to you what I feel about them.
'And deep down there is a 12-year-old schoolboy very, very proud to be asked to stage an exhibition alongside his artist hero.'
Norwich Castle's keep is due to undergo changes later this year as part of Norman Connections.
Angela Riley, Norman Connections project officer, said: 'We're in the last six months of the project; we're picking up the pace and this is the first thing for visitors to see.
'For the first time ever we have bilingual text with it written in English and French. It's a requirement of the project and it's to encourage more French visitors to Norwich.
'It's something we've not done before; it's a trial and we hope it catches on.'
People purchasing a ticket to the castle will be able to visit the two exhibitions.