An exhibition at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury in 2015 explored the importance of the painting room in eighteenth century art.
The exhibition explored the character and use of this important place, which was usually a room in a domestic house. Distinct from the show room where visitors could view finished work, the painting room was the artist’s inner sanctum, a private world containing the tools and instruments of the artist’s practice.
This collection contained artworks showcasing the painting room, and a selection of objects, including these painting bladders found in the Gainsborough’s House attic in the 1960s.
In December 2015, visitors to Norwich Puppet Theatre were lucky enough to discover the story of Rumpelstiltskin: a woolly wonderland of a show with spinning, weaving, lively puppetry, music and storytelling.
Norwich Puppet Theatre is inside a converted medieval church, and is one of only three building-based puppet theatres in England. It’s worth a visit for the foyer alone, which is adorned with puppets from over 30 years of productions.
The product of engineer/artist Tim Hunkin’s obsession with coin-operated arcade machines; the Under the Pier Show in Southwold offers an alternative amusement arcade to visitors of the Suffolk seaside town.
The Under the Pier Show opened in 2001 with just five machines (when Southwold Pier was still being rebuilt) including The Doctor, The Chiropodist and The Frisker.
All of the machines in the show are traditional amusements with an unexpected subversive twist. Examples include Rent-A-Dog (a treadmill that recreates all of the joys of dog walking), Mobility Masterclass (crossing a busy motorway using a zimmer frame) and Quickfit (watch a Jane Fonda exercise video whilst the machine exercises you automatically).
As it’s Christmas Day, we thought it was time for this very special Culture365 post. We all know the story of the Christmas Day Truce during the First World War, but the collection of Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery holds the whistle that started it all.
Sergeant Hoy, who played the whistle, tells the story:
“On Christmas morning 1914 I was in the trenches in France on the Ypres sector and I was playing some carols on my whistle, which I always carried with me. Suddenly a German called out, “Play ‘Home Sweet Home’ Tommy!” I started to play it and to my surprise a German who was near our trench produced a mouth organ and joined in with me. That started us and the Germans fraternising on top of the trench. Later a football was produced, and not a shot was fired that day.”
The Castle isn’t open today, but plan a future trip here.
Extend your stay and explore the rest of the city with Visit Norwich.
If you have a soft spot for stupid boys and bombastic captains then the Dad’s Army museum in Thetford is a must visit. Much of the series was filmed in Norfolk, Thetford especially, and this museum is a celebration of the evergreen sitcom. Visitors can see props from the show, watch old clips and even take a tour of the filming locations.
Some of the work that formed the groundwork for 2015 Turner Prize-winning architecture collective Assemble’s The Granby Workshops was featured at Norwich Castle’s Build Your Own exhibition, which ran from October 2015 until January 2016.
Homework by Assemble and Will Shannon sees a domestic factory produce bespoke and beautiful fireplaces made from building rubble, which were all on show in the exhibition at Norwich Castle.
Shannon’s proposition to turn one of the houses in Granby Street into a domestic workshop to produce furnishings for the neighbouring homes, was the very idea developed by Assemble into The Granby Workshops, showcased as part of 2015’s Turner Prize.
Shannon and Assemble highlight the potential for us all to work with our neighbours and communities and utilise our domestic environments to change our living conditions, themes, which were also explored in the Build Your Own exhibition through the work of Rachel Rayns with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Linda Brothwell and Norwich Hackspace with DoESLiverpool.
One of the more unusual pieces in the Blickling Collection, this beautiful ivory pagoda measures over a meter in height and 300mm in diameter.
It’s one of a pair that were carved in China in the mid-18th century. Look closely and you’ll see it has nine tiers, hung with ivory bells and there are small figures in each tier. The base has been designed to resemble a small garden, complete with miniature trees and greenery.
Amongst the many treasures at Suffolk’s Blickling Hall is an oil painting by Canaletto. Entitled Chelsea from Battersea Reach, it was published in 1751 and originally measured eight foot across.
However, the work has been cut in half, experts think sometime before 1802, perhaps by the artist himself to make it more saleable. To get the full picture you will have to travel slightly outside the region – the other half is in the Havana Nation Museum, Cuba.
Close to the seafront in Great Yarmouth stands The Hippodrome, Britain’s only surviving total circus building.
It was built at the turn of the twentieth century and over the last hundred years it has been played by legends such as Max Miller, Lillie Langtree, Houdini and Charlie Chaplin, as well as the best circus performers in the world, year after year after year.
The shows always close with the water spectacular – The Hippodrome has one of only four sinking rings in the world, which is then flooded. It’s a sight like no other.
You can get a flavour of what it’s like and check what’s showing at the official Hippodrome website.