Norfolk’s vibrant art scene offers a rich tapestry of creative expression, from the serene halls of Congham Hall Hotel adorned with local masterpieces to the innovative spaces showcasing international talents. This region has become a sanctuary for art lovers, blending the traditional with the contemporary and the local with the global. Whether you’re drawn to the environmental themes explored at GroundWork, the grandeur of Houghton Hall’s annual exhibitions, or the unique charm of the Peter Coke Shell Gallery, there’s something in Norfolk for every palette.
1. Congham Hall Hotel
We’ve always championed local artists at Congham Hall. There are original paintings and sculptures on display throughout the hotel’s communal spaces for guests and visitors dropping by for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner to admire. Rachel Lockwood is one of our favourites – you can see her work ‘Bright Lights – The Hangs’ in the hall. We also have art by Fred Ingrams in the Library and Sitting Room, and the large bird sculpture on the main staircase, ‘Bittern With Fish’, is by Stephen Henderson. Our latest commissions are in the new Orchard Cabins, individually designed pieces by Jenny Lovatt.
Congham Hall Hotel, Lynn Road, Congham, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1AH
T 01485 600250 / www.conghamhallhotel.co.uk
Art meets nature at GroundWork, in nearby King’s Lynn, the UK’s first gallery dedicated to art and the environment. Director Veronica Sekules, formerly of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich, opened her thought-provoking showcase for contemporary art opposite the Custom House in summer 2016. Works on display here use sustainable materials or depict natural subjects. Veronica says it’s a chance to explore how art can help us to see a changing world and imagine how we can shape its future.
GroundWork, 17 Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn PE30 1ER
T 01553 340714 / www.groundworkgallery.com
3. Houghton Hall
Henry Moore, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst … these are just some of the world-class artists whose work has been showcased in recent years at annual exhibitions at this grand stately home. Houghton Hall also has an impressive permanent collection of contemporary sculpture in its grounds. ‘Skyspace’, by the American artist James Turrell, was the first commission in 2000. Since then, the Marquess of Cholmondeley has added works by Rachel Whiteread, Anya Gallaccio and Richard Long among others, as well as the sculpture ‘Mother and Child’ by Henry Moore. Keep an eye on the diary for the annual residency by Contemporary & Country, which shows and sells the work of some of East Anglia’s finest artists and designer-makers.
Houghton Hall Estate, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6EU
T 01485 528569 / www.houghtonhall.com
4. Peter Coke Shell Gallery
Don’t miss this curious collection of shell art by Peter Coke, who was best known for playing Francis Durbridge’s amateur sleuth Paul Temple in the 1950s radio series. After his retirement to the North Norfolk coast in the 1970s, Coke devoted himself to his lifelong passion for creating decorative art from shells. You can see more than 200 of the exquisite items, particularly his famous floral sculptures, at the eponymous gallery now run by the Sheringham Society.
Peter Coke Shell Gallery, West Cliff, Sheringham NR26 8JT
5. The Gunton Arms
A pub deep in the Norfolk countryside isn’t the first place you’d expect to find original works by world-renowned contemporary artists. Yet, pop in for a pint at The Gunton Arms near Thorpe Market and you can browse pieces by household names such as Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst, curated by the landlord, art dealer Ivor Braka. Outside, in the 1,000-acre country park, browse sculptures by Sol LeWitt, Anthony Caro and Ulrich Rückriem.
The Gunton Arms, Cromer Road, Thorpe Market, Norfolk NR11 8TZ
T 01263 832010 / www.theguntonarms.co.uk
6. The South Asia Collection
Norwich’s Victorian roller-skating rink is a sight worth seeing both for the building and its contents. This vast space is now home to the South Asia Collection, filled with fabrics, ritual objects, decorative furnishings, even large architectural pieces. The collection has been a labour of love for Jeannie and Philip Millward since they travelled around the region in the 1970s. Some pieces are just on display, and shown on rotation, but there are lots of affordable items to buy, too.
The South Asia Collection, The Old Skating Rink, 34-36 Bethel Street, Norwich NR2 1NR
T 01603 663890 / https://thesouthasiacollection.co.uk
As our exploration of Norfolk’s art destinations concludes, it’s clear that the region offers an unparalleled diversity of artistic experiences. From Congham Hall’s commitment to showcasing local talent to the Gunton Arms’ surprising collection of contemporary art, each venue invites visitors to engage with art in settings that are as unique as the works themselves. The landscapes of Norfolk not only inspire artists but also provide a backdrop against which their creations can be appreciated in new and meaningful ways.
For those eager to immerse themselves further in Norfolk’s artistic wonders, we invite you to download our guide. This carefully curated selection provides an insider’s look at where to find the most compelling art, making every visit to Norfolk a journey of discovery and inspiration.