Art from twinned cities in Norwich

Keiron PimArtists from Rouen, Koblenz and Novi Sad are now displaying their work in their twin city of Norwich. Keiron Pim spoke to new Norwich 20 Group chairman Rory McShane about the Foursight exhibition.Keiron Pim

Artists from Koblenz are joining their counterparts from Norwich's other twin cities for the first time in an exhibition that is now open at the old Bally Shoe Factory.

The Norwich 20 Group's autumn show, titled FourSight, comprises almost 300 works in various media by artists from Norwich, Rouen, Koblenz and Novi Sad.

The name reflects that the artists hail from four cities and this is the fourth consecutive 20 Group show to feature artists from Norwich's twins.

It also marks a first for printmaker Rory McShane, being the first exhibition he has overseen in his new role as chairman of the 20 Group, which was founded in Norwich in 1944 and has grown to occupy a position at the heart of the city's art scene. Nowadays the group has more than 70 members, as opposed to the original 20 who founded it, and it holds two major exhibitions a year.

'It has really grown over the years and this is a really big show with about 300 works,' says Rory. 'About 100 of the works have come from the European cities.'

The art on show features traditional, figurative and abstract painting, sculpture and imaginative site installations responding to the space of the old factory.

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Rory said that there were certain styles apparent from the different cities, particularly Rouen and Novi Sad.

'There is a very varied mixture of work from Koblenz, and in some ways it is easier to talk about the French artists because there is a definite characteristic there: it is colourful, very vivacious. There's a French phrase, 'la belle peinture', that is very appropriate.

'I think with the art from Novi Sad, in Serbia, there's a slightly more troubled, perhaps edgy quality. It's not always pretty pictures, as you might imagine from a country that was at war only 10 years ago.'

Rory runs the A-Level art, textiles and photography courses at City College, Norwich, and has two chief targets for his chairmanship of the Norwich 20 Group: to create a new website that will showcase the members' work and to reinstate the group's tradition of members offering constructive criticism of one another's work.

He has contributed four of his own prints - woodcuts exploring his interest in 'showing movement and stillness' - to this exhibition, which he says has been chiefly made possible by group member Derek Rae, 'who has done the most amazing amount of work organising the exhibition'.

'Prices for the works on show range from around �80 up to around �2,000,' he added. As well as the exhibition of large works, there will be an opportunity to pick up many small items in the Art Bazaar. All Art Bazaar items are donated by N20G members to raise money for the group and are sold for �15.

New members exhibiting for the first time are Martin Battye, Mike Chapman, Katarzyna Colman, Oliver Creed, Lizzie Harvey, Gill Levin, Rachael Long, Derek Morris and John Rance.

The group also reviews the degree show at Norwich University College of the Arts each year and invites three young artists of exceptional talent to join the group as 'licentiates'. This means they become members of the group for one year free of charge and are qualified to take part in exhibitions. This year's artists include Victoria Scott and Kevin Parker. 'The exhibition aims to celebrate the rich mix of styles and ideas coming from four different countries and is a colourful, energetic and original show,' says Rory.

The Foursight exhibition is now open at the old Bally Shoe Factory, Hall Road, Norwich, courtesy of Targetfollow Group, and runs to September 19. It is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with free admission and free parking.