Breaking The Mould exhibition, Norwich
The first exhibition at the newly reopened Norwich Castle explores the richness and diversity of modern British sculpture, tracing its development and looking for meaning and an understanding of the artist’s impulse.
By KATE MORLEY
People are always looking for ways to understand art, not just the individual work, but the history and development of artistic practice through great swathes of time.
The history of art survives by grouping, naming and dividing – looking for reason in an often unreasonable world.
The first exhibition at the newly reopened Norwich Castle tells just such a story, with the help of a collection of important British sculpture from the Tate. Looking at the 20th century, Breaking The Mould explores the richness and diversity of modern British sculpture, tracing its development and looking for meaning and an understanding of the artist's impulse.
From the birth of modernist sculpture and the work of Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill working in stone, the exhibition journeys through post-war Britain to the 1960s and the rise of abstraction.
And on to contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas who rarely describe themselves as sculptors, enjoying the freedom of working in multi-media, defying the traditional interpretations of them or their art.
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The telling of the story understands the work through changing values from an interest in closing the gap between artist and material, through 'direct carving' rather than casting, through to the reactionary 60s and contemporary artists more interested in the idea than the object.
But not all the new work defies the old. Damien Hirst's MDF cabinet uses sea shells as symbols of mortality, just as artists through time have done before him.
Whatever form your appreciation of the work takes – material, meaning, design or in understanding 100 years of British sculpture – the chance to see important works by such an acclaimed gallery of artists in Norwich Castle's enlarged Norwich Union and Bernard Matthews Galleries is true cause for celebration.
t The exhibition continues until September 23.