In March 2016, a brand new Gravelot exhibition at Gainsborough’s House drew upon the impressive body of work in the house’s permanent collection.
Hubert-François Bourguignon, better known as Gravelot, was one of the most influential designers of the eighteenth century. Born in Paris in 1699, he studied in Rome before returning to the French capital and working under the painter François Boucher. In 1732 he emigrated to London, where he remained until 1745. During this period he played a central role in introducing Rococo style into British art and design.
While living in London Gravelot provided his services as a drawing-master; his pupils included the young Thomas Gainsborough, who arrived in the city as a thirteen-year-old apprentice in 1740. Gravelot also became deeply involved in the St. Martin’s Lane Academy, organised by William Hogarth and frequented by some of London’s leading artists. It was here that the Frenchman met many of his future collaborators.
This exhibition showcased his extraordinary versatility as a draughtsman, which the eighteenth century commentator on art George Vertue described as ‘a great and fruitful genius for designs’. The prints and drawings that featured in the display demonstrated Gravelot’s ability to operate across a variety of categories, producing work for a wide array of media: from book illustrations, graphic satire and printed ephemera, to snuff boxes, walking canes, silverware, medals and other forms of material culture. They also revealed the diverse sources from which Gravelot derived inspiration: from contemporary life and politics, to the natural world, historical narratives and classical literature.
The widespread distribution of these kinds of objects not only allowed Gravelot to gain fame among the British public, but also allowed his work to exert a profound and lasting impact on the development of eighteenth century British visual culture.
Norwich Fashion Week is a celebration of Norwich’s burgeoning fashion scene. Created in 2010 to celebrate and promote the vibrant scene across the city, it brings together Norwich’s nationally-recognised, independent retail offering (such as Jarrolds and The Lanes) and the city’s thriving student fashion design community.
There’s tons of events taking place across the city all week, including a number of high profile shows at OPEN, focused on vintage, and designer clothing and the latest hair trends.
Outside of the five main shows, there are a number of demos and workshops about a range of different subjects, from hairstyling to makeup techniques.
In March 2016, Somewhere In England opened at Eastern Angles as part of a regional tour.
In May 1942, the first Eighth U.S. Army Air Force aeroplanes arrived in East Anglia. With them came thousands of black and white American GIs who, in some places, outnumbered the local population by 50 to 1. This unique moment in history, often referred to as ‘the friendly invasion’, had a huge impact on social and cultural life in the Eastern region and it’s a story that’s in danger of being forgotten.
Nylons, Hershey bars and jitterbugging to Swing Bands in the local village hall all feature in Polly Wiseman’s play, but there was another side to this shared history – a tale of segregation and of rural communities turned upside down. Kids being forced to grow up before their time, friendships forged and then blown apart, and outsiders learning to live amongst the locals.
Some objects are so important they change our knowledge of human history; one such item is this Lower Palaeolithic handaxe found at Happisburgh in Norfolk by Mike Chambers while walking his dog in 2000. Affectionately known as the Happisburgh Handaxe, it was found in situ in a deposit of silt with only a few millimetres of it showing from the surface, the deposit was dated and shown to be from around 550,000 to 700,000 years old, which pushed back the evidence for human colonisation this far north by at least 100,000 years.
Analysis of pollen in the silt allows us to build a picture of temperate woodland with pine, alder, oak, elm and hornbeam in evidence at the time the handaxe was made.
We explored another significant Happisburgh find in a previous Culture365 post. During 2013 the Happisburgh Footprints were found on a beach dating to around 800,000 years ago, making them the oldest human footprints ever discovered outside of Africa.
In honour of International Women’s Day 2016, Norwich Arts Centre hosted its annual eclectic celebration of women writers and musicians from across the region. Every year, Words and Women is full of short films, readings, music and conversation, with a stellar line-up of artists.
On 2016’s lineup were the incomparable Karen Reilly of the Neutrinos, the mesmerising Sink Ya Teeth and the unique Emily Winng, compered by Guardian award winning stand-up Louisa Theobald and more. Sunday Times Best-Selling and Costa First Book Award winning author Emma Healey also introduced the anthology and writers reading their winning entries.
In March 2016, Poetic Landscape, a new exhibition at Gainsborough’s House, examined the work of the visionary and innovative painter and printmaker Samuel Palmer who, like Gainsborough drew inspiration from the landscape.
In the 17th and early 18th century, landscape painting in Britain was seen as a lowly form of art. Topographical images of the period, which were often produced by mapmakers and surveyors, were commissioned to document an actual scene or a place rather than to express an artistic vision.
Following on from Gainsborough’s groundbreaking work in the genre, Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) pushed landscape painting in Britain to a new level of creativity. Born 17 years after Gainsborough’s death, Palmer is considered to be one of the greatest British artists of the Romantic period.
This exhibition, which was brought together with the help of Edward Twohig, was a rare opportunity to see a complete collection of Samuel Palmer’s etchings and through his work, learn about the process.
He may be more famous for gracing the silver screen in a string of classic Westerns, but Jimmy Stewart also has connections with the East.
Before the Hollywood star first strapped on a six-shooter he was the first Operations Officer when Old Buckenham airbase in central Norfolk first opened. Its most important residents? The USAAF 453rd Bombardment Group. where you’ll find a museum, café and runway that is still used today. And the Old Buckenham Airshow is a record-breaking event that takes place every summer.
Discover more about this fascinating part of Norfolk past and present here at the museum’s website.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are bringing the story of the airmen who flew out of the East in WW2 to the small screen in the next big HBO epic – Masters of the Air.
The sequel to Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the series will tell the tale of the American airmen of the Mighty Eighth, who flew daring bombing raids over mainland Europe. It’s not clear yet how much of it will be shot in the region, but with a $500m budget and Hollywood royalty behind it, all the signs point to a fantastic new show coming to our screens soon.
You can learn more about the Eighth Air Force and their impact on life in the East here.
Unravelling Thread was a special event at Ipswich Art School Gallery on 3rd March 2016. Arranged to coincide with the Arts/Science/Life exhibition at the Gallery, archaeologist Lucy Walker and artist Robert Pacitti explored a variety of issues relating to the representation of artifacts in art and heritage contexts. By discussing their short film Thread they also considered the historical work of archaeologist Nina Francis Layard, whose Anglo-Saxon finds in the Ipswich area underpin the project.
In 1906 archaeologist Nina Frances Layard excavated an Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Hadleigh Road in Ipswich. The contents of the graves suggested that the site was a Pagan cemetery of the 6th century. It was discovered during a Borough Council employment project to level the ground in anticipation of new housing development, and Layard worked hard in the face of many practical difficulties, to recover and record as many of the burials as possible.
As a woman, Ms. Layard was unable to deliver a lecture to The Society of Antiquaries in London, or even be seen to be present when her paper was given to the assembled audience of men. So she stood behind a curtain whilst John Evans gave her paper about her excavations.
Kings Lynn is one of Norfolk’s most important and historic towns, and a really good way to explore it is on the Historic King’s Lynn Walk, set out by Norfolk Trails.
This circular walk is an easy two miles on hard surface with minor gradients, so it’s suitable for prams, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. It takes you past 14th century buildings, the largest surviving parochial chapel in England and plenty more of the historical sights of Kings Lynn.
You can view and download the complete walk, plus others in the area, by using this link: