Four Norfolk artists prove that less is more

Artists Vanessa Pooley, Andrew Schumann, Derek Morris and Mary Mellor.

Artists Vanessa Pooley, Andrew Schumann, Derek Morris and Mary Mellor. - Credit:

Four of Norfolk's most prominent artists come together next week for a joint show SIMON PARKIN takes at look at the Less Is More exhibition in Norwich.

Four leading British artists, who all live and work in Norfolk, are coming together next week to present their work in a joint exhibition.

Less Is More, which opens at the Forum in Norwich from Monday, features works by Mary Mellor, Derek Morris, Vanessa Pooley and Andrew Schumann, all four prominent artists, recognised both locally and nationally, at the height of their creative careers.

'Audiences are familiar with collaborations between up-and-coming artists still finding their way and playing with concepts and methodology,' said Derek Morris. 'However, this show is unusual and unique because it brings together four mature artists living and working in Norfolk who are showing work that is a distillation of decades spent honing their ideas and art and is perhaps at its most powerful as a result.

'Our intention is to make people reconsider how creativity and artistic output can change over a lifetime – and how that can be a positive thing creatively.'

Derek works within the European Modernist tradition of Constructed Art. His current work is based on simple geometry which emanates from the built environment, most particularly from the architectural device known as the squint.

This is a sloping sided aperture piercing thick walls between chapel and chancel in medieval churches and used for viewing. A modified form of this structure, which has the characteristic of concentrating one's gaze and drawing it inwards to a more distant point, appears in all his recent works which take the form of wall hung reliefs and sculptures.

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He has made these reliefs in ceramic, stainless steel, aluminium, cast epoxy resin and more recently plywood.

The female figure and motherhood are central themes in the work of leading sculptor Vanessa Pooley, who produces tactile bronze sculptures.

She said: 'It is unusual and satisfying to be exhibiting with three other people who know what they want to say and are saying it. Our work is more sophisticated, experienced and self-aware than it would have been in our early careers.'

'In the early stage of a career, artists can be tentatively finding their way and putting everything into an artwork making the ideas and final result more messy, unstructured and complicated than it will be later in their career as they learn to pare things down.

'At this stage in our career we take out the extraneous elements in our work that take away from what it is we are trying to say. What you learn from experience is the old adage that less is more – and nothing could be more true about the work in this exhibition.'

Andrew Schumann studied Art History at Cambridge University and worked in industry for many years. He has been a full-time artist for the last 25 years, working from his studio in King's Lynn.

He said: 'My recent works explore the mystery of life, expressed by 'the paradoxical relationship between the precision of the circle within its square and the endless imprecision of the resulting ratio, pi – a number that goes on to infinity without pattern or repetition.'

Mary Mellor lives and works in Norwich. She makes abstract reliefs and paintings, many of which are geometric. Designs are drawn up on graph paper and transferred to the support. Frequently the composition of the works emerge from the internal geometry of the rectangle itself – the conjunctions of horizontals and verticals, diagonals, golden sections and other divisions of the rectangle used by classical artists.

'Each of us has refined our ideas and pared down our work over many years until we have a decluttered and concentrated product,' adds Derek.

'We all know by now what works, what doesn't and exactly what it is we want to say in our work. This exhibition is interesting because it is not trying to attract attention with new gimmicks; it is simply showing considered and polished work of a calm and reflective nature

'Maturity is deciding what you want from your life and what you can discard from your work and we feel this is what comes across in the exhibition.'

t Less Is More, Forum, Norwich, April 15-21, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 9am-4pm, admission free, 01603 727950,