Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

A flint axe head found on Happisburgh beach that dates back 700,000 years juxtaposed with a small sculpture by Henry Moore made out of a piece of Ironstone from the same beach.

​I visited the Masterpieces exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the UEA in Norwich at the weekend. This is how it is billed:

‘Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia (14 September 2013 – 24 February 2014) is one of the most ambitious exhibitions in the region’s recent history, celebrating the artistic heritage of East Anglia, from antiquity through to the present day.
The exhibition encompasses over 270 masterpieces across the media, including painting, furniture, sculpture, design, jewellery, textiles and a wealth of stunning treasures.’

It is the most impressive exhibition I have seen there. It really takes you on a journey through the history of the region and is no better illustrated than by a flint axe head found on Happisburgh beach that dates back 700,000 years juxtaposed with a small sculpture by Henry Moore made out of a piece of Ironstone from the same beach.

Fabergés’ tiny animal sculptures for Queen Alexandra are incredibly beautiful, but in contrast to all the antiquity is Colin Self’s Guard Dog on a Missile Base, No. 1, which we all voted for as our favorite Masterpiece.

I’d have also liked to have voted for the building. If anyone ever visits us from another city, we always take a walk around the lake at the UEA and visit the Sainsbury Centre. I asked a recent visitor friend how old he thought the building was and he said about 10 years old. Norman Foster was appointed in 1974 and it was completed in 1978. It is breathtakingly modern and recently grade II* listed.

I am a huge admirer of the ‘restrooms’. I always think this must be what the ‘restroom’ on the space ship in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey is like – the stark functionality of the taps and soap – the simplicity and attention to detail are remarkable – the glass walls are dazzling and the solidity and feel that the door has when closing put a Volkswagen Golf to shame. The ceiling lights also look a bit like the HAL 9000 computer. I always try to work out how I could create such a room in my own house.

We finished with a piece of shortbread and cherryade in the café.

I always think this must be what the 'restroom' on the space ship in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey is like

2001 A Space OdysseySainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, NorwichSainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, NorwichGuard Dog on a Missile Base, No. 1
Scott Poulson