Wivenhoe artists on the move
Iconic images by three Wivenhoe artists are now turning an ancient Norfolk church into a brilliant boat.The Salthouse 08 art show, entitled SEAhouse LIGHThouse SPIRIThouse, celebrates a beacon church near Blakeney and its setting above the saltmarshes.
Iconic images by three Wivenhoe artists are now turning an ancient Norfolk church into a brilliant boat.
The Salthouse 08 art show, entitled SEAhouse LIGHThouse SPIRIThouse, celebrates a beacon church near Blakeney and its setting above the saltmarshes. The curator is EADT writer Ian Collins.
The site-specific display of work by 70 East Anglian artists ranges across words, pictures, crafts, sculptures, light and music - taking in painting, print-making, drawing, collage, photography, textiles, stained glass, installations, mobiles, mirrors and models. It moves from the avowedly abstract to the resolutely representational while always addressing a most magical space.
The show's central image is a vast 21st century altarpiece in the form of a Cromer crabber created by Maldon shipwright turned painter of boats James Dodds. Taking triptych form, the depiction in oils also works as a broken boat and as three separate pictures.
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Ian Collins says: “My idea was to echo the painting that would have been torn down in the Reformation - possibly an image as fine as the great retable surviving at Thornham Magna near Eye.
“I also wanted to update the medieval view of the church as a boat in a place dependent on the sea for so many centuries.”
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In addition James has responded in a painting and linocut print to the Lightenings poem by Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney. It recounts the fable of a flying ship whose anchor snags in a monastic altar rail.
Those images are arrayed on either side of the altar rail while the Dodds altarpiece itself takes on the form of an Ark thanks to a stained glass dove flying above it. This is the work of Wivenhoe's Robina Jack.
Another highlight is Essex Mermaid - Guy Taplin's first-ever ship's figurehead, which has just undergone an almost miraculous transformation in the church.
This saucy carving in painted wood was intended to make merry with a bawdy tradition while also marking a serious advance into figurative sculpture for the premier bird man of British art.
But in a shrine-like niche of Salthouse church dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen, it has lost all its original comedy and now appears instead to sum up the powerful and poignant spirit of the North Sea.
When Sister Wendy Beckett opened the exhibition she lingered long in front of Essex Mermaid and said: “But this is a sacred figure.”
The exhibition also has a specially commissioned Flood soundtrack from Woodbridge-raised and now Bungay-based composer Roger Eno - a hypnotic piece of music playing at random in each corner of the church.
*Salthouse 08 runs until August 3. Open 10am-5.30pm daily. Entry free. Most exhibits are for sale.