Circle’s celebration of beauty

Derek James takes a look at the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle's latest exhibition at the Forum.

They say that times of doom and gloom are often among the most creative. And that rings true in the case of the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle.

Their must-see exhibition, which is on now at the Forum in Norwich, is a real celebration of the variety and beauty of our surroundings – and a real contrast to the grim news about cutbacks and economic turmoil.

This magnificent group started life as the Norwich Art Circle in 1885, following Crome and Cotman's famous Norwich Society of Artists. It broadened out to become the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle around 40 years later when it merged with the Woodpeckers Art Club presided over by famous city name Nugent Monck.

Over the years the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle has had artists of national and international acclaim in its membership, including Arnesby Brown, Alfred Munnings, Bernard Meadows, Edward Seago, Bernard Reynolds and Ian Houston.

Norwich and Norfolk is a talented place and around 100 paintings are being exhibited at the Forum, including work by several new members.

Among those that have caught the eye of former chairman Richard Motley are pieces by Rose-Marie Chapman, Jennie Wayne-Potter and Marian Auger.

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He tells me: 'Rose-Marie Chapman has an exquisite portrayal of Physelis AlkeKengi, whilst Jennie Wayne Potter, Marian Auger and others show a high degree of observation in their still life painting, the detail and liveliness fill the paintings with light.

'Ian West demonstrates a wonderful understanding of design and mastery of technique in presenting Avocet using acrylic and collage.

'And for local themes Steve Highton takes us to Southwold with a view of the wide sky as an afternoon sun highlights the beach and pier while Kevin Thompson takes us to Southwold harbour and the fishing boats tied up at the sea wall.

Norwich also features in Irene Ogden's Beeches at Whitlingham and David Neale's The Sunlit Churchyard,' he says.

While there is much to inspire the imagination in our region, some artists travel further afield.

A painting by Janet Harrison depicts the Opening of the Severn Valley Railway, complete with a brass band ready to play an opening fanfare, while David Talks visits the Grand Canal, in Venice.

Travelling across England, Richard Motley himself visits the ancient Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall.

'It's encouraging to see different styles and techniques employed to create artistic effects,' says Richard. 'And the Forum offers an excellent arena in which to profile the work of the group.'

The Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle is open to anyone over the age of 17 who is interested in the visual arts and has connections with East Anglia. No formal art qualifications are required.

The circle usually hosts an activity a month, ranging from lectures and demonstrations to sketching outings.

The Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle's exhibition will be at the Forum, Norwich, until November 14.