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New Norwich home for stunning artwork of city skyline found hidden in a barn

PUBLISHED: 10:08 14 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 14 January 2018

A panorama by John Moray-Smith is unveiled at the Heritage Library in Norwich where author Paul Burall holds a talk about the artist.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

A panorama by John Moray-Smith is unveiled at the Heritage Library in Norwich where author Paul Burall holds a talk about the artist. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

It had laid hidden away, gathering dust in the corner of an old stable block of a Norfolk hotel for years.

A panorama by John Moray-Smith is unveiled at the Heritage Library in Norwich where author Paul Burall holds a talk about the artist.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017A panorama by John Moray-Smith is unveiled at the Heritage Library in Norwich where author Paul Burall holds a talk about the artist. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

But now, a 2.5m wide panorama of Norwich’s distinctive skyline, by the late John Moray-Smith, has been fully restored and takes pride of place at the Norfolk Heritage Centre in The Forum.

To “celebrate” the unveiling of the artwork, which depicts the city from St James’ hill, at its new Norwich home Paul Burall, author and vice chairman of the Norwich Society, gave a talk about the artist and his work.

The panorama, which is hugely detailed, was handed over to the Norwich Society in 2016 after the city’s civic watchdogs paid £2,500 to purchase the work from the owners of Caistor Hall Hotel, where it had been kept in storage for several years.

In total the Norwich Society have spent about £5,000 on buying and restoring the artwork which Mr Burrall said he was delighted had now had a new base in the centre of the city.

He said: “We’ve been looking for a new home for some time so we’re absolutely delighted its here.

“I think it’s good to have something like this in probably one of the best modern buildings in Norwich. It’s a nice contrast.

The artwork, which is made from heavy plaster and mounted in a solid wooden frame, is thought to have been produced about 70 years ago.

Mr Burrall said; “It’s extraordinary. The detail is incredible. He always puts animals and kids in which is quite nice. It’s so detailed.”

The author said the piece was very accurate apart from perhaps one detail, the size of Morgans brewery.

He said: “The brewery is twice as big as it would actually be because they paid him.

“We’re pretty sure he did it in 1947 or 1948 to celebrate the opening of the new brewery which was bombed during the war.”

More than 40 people attended a talk at the Forum on Saturday, including John Ward, chairman of Norfolk County Council and Norwich Society member.

He said: “It’s an ideal place for it. It means people can get right up close to it and really see the detail of it. I know we’ve got some other Moray-Smith’s around the city but there’s no others that you can get right up close to. I’m very pleased indeed to see it here.”

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