Leiston Abbey

Visit Norwich – March 23

Out & About

Top tips for Mother’s Day & what to do this month…

Change is in the air. As well as the start of spring, March brings opportunities to do something different or start something new says Melanie Cook of www.VisitNorwich.co.uk  

It’s Visit England’s English Tourism Week between 17 March and 26 March. So, make the time to take a good look around your local area, because English Tourism Week is a time to truly recognise the beauty and diverse choice our city and county offer – without having too far to travel!

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is one of my most favourite places to visit, although it has to be said, I have a lot of favourites dotted around the county! And as I’ve written about many times, we’re so lucky here in Norwich and Norfolk to have the breadth and quality of a changing arts and culture scene, year in, year out. With that, let’s see where we all should be heading this month.

The Sainsbury Centre is a place to visit on any day, (except Mondays when it’s closed!). The size of it means you’re guaranteed some peace and quiet to reflect and enjoy the permanent collection. And for all those who particularly appreciate great design, it’s a perfect place to have coffee, lunch, or a glass of wine in the Modern Life Café and look around the shop, where you can buy some interesting coffee table books, stationary, art, cards, jewellery, and more.

This month we have two incredible exhibitions opening at the Sainsbury Centre and, if you want to see them both, I’d suggest you visit from 18 March. But, if you can’t wait, launching on 12 March, the Sainsbury Centre presents Empowering Art: Indigenous Creativity and Activism from North America’s Northwest Coast (until 30 July). Excitingly, many of the artworks and exhibits will be rarely seen works – so that’s number one reason to visit. And there will be a mix of historical and contemporary pieces from the earliest colonial interactions to paintings and sculptures from the mid-20th-century, a time when modern Northwest Coast art was revitalised.

This is a ground-breaking exhibition as it presents artworks on a scale unseen in the UK since the 1970’s (reason two to visit), having been developed in consultation with indigenous artists and leaders from the community across the Northwest Coast from Washington State to British Columbia, and up to Alaska.

See works from Indigenous artists such as Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Marianne Nicolson and Susan Point, as well as a new generation of artists including Morgan Asoyuf, Phil Gray and Danielle Morsette.

Following closely on its heels is Julian Stair: Art, Death and the Afterlife (18 March – 17 September, free), another thought-provoking event. In this instance, Stair – a leading ceramic artist – has been working closely with the charity Cruse Bereavement and Norwich Death Café to create his works. This has led to donated ashes of people who have recently died being embedded in clay or contained within Stair’s figural jars to create permanent memorials to their loved ones.

In 2012 in memory of his uncle-in-law, Les Cox, Stair created Reliquary for a Common Man where, working with Cox’s bereaved family, the artist commemorated Cox’s death by incorporating his ashes into the clay body of an urn.

For this latest show, Stair’s artworks range from forty centimetres to two metres in height, with around 30 new works on display in an incredible exhibition, representing his response to the global pandemic. His works range from cinerary jars to monumental, abstract, figurative forms, which invite the viewer to meditate on the intimate relationship between the clay vessel and the human figure.

The Norfolk & Norwich Festival has launched its full programme of international arts and so, whilst we have until May to experience them, now is the time to pour over the brochure and choose how you want to participate. Start planning some very exciting days, nights and hours out, remembering that a good amount of the Festival is free.

Part of their offer is a two-mile Art Path linking Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery to the Sainsbury Centre (genius, and much overdue). This will take the form of a day’s activity (a Saturday) where along the route you can expect a few wonderful surprises. I’m hoping many people will take the opportunity to follow the path (which is free to travel), linking these two very important arts venues, which also happen to have around 900 years between them!

The Forum in Norwich is a great venue, but it’s also a great event organiser, and annually The Forum presents the Norfolk Makers’ Festival (11 – 19 March). Heavily attended each year, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your creative juices flowing, whether you have an established hobby, interest or side hustle, or if you are looking to find something brand new to do with no experience.

The event is designed for artists, artisans and makers to showcase their talents and talk face-to-face with the public. And there is so much to do. Watch a demonstration, enjoy multi-media exhibitions, in-person and online talks, ticketed creative workshops and crafty conversation! There will be experts from embroiderers to printers, from weavers to lace makers, from jewellery designers to wood whittlers – so, something for everyone.

The talented students at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) are offering stop frame animation to try, chances to meet makeup artists from City College Norwich, learn about lino-cut printing, song writing, quilling, jewellery making and sculpting with plastic cleared from Norfolk’s beaches.

The beauty of this Festival is that many organisations across Norwich get involved, and the Festival is a good hook for venturing further if you find something you enjoy or that sparks an interest. Each summer the NUA annually showcases work from their graduating students. It’s a must visit event in my eyes, and it’s free. The work is extraordinary. It’s taken place online for the past few years, but I’m hoping it will soon return as an in-person event. Keep your eyes peeled for further information.

Finally, the Museum of Norwich presents the history of textiles and its role and importance to Norwich, as well as following local industries in shoemaking, mustard, chocolate and even wire netting! So, don’t just get involved this month, follow up on the story later in the year and see what other places there are to visit.

Mother’s Day three top tips

1. The Sainsbury Centre’s shop is fab for present buying. Especially if you have a mum or mother figure who’s a bit difficult to buy for!

2. Looking for something different? Book tickets to a Norwich Baroque performance at www.norwichbaroque.org/concerts

3. Visit Juni and Co in The Royal Arcade for skin and makeup advice and bookable experiences from top friendly local experts. www.juniandco.com

Full details of everything mentioned here, and loads more ideas can be found at www.visitnorwich.co.uk