Nationally acclaimed artists celebrate The Art of Rural Life at the Corn Hall, Diss
The Art of Rural Life
19 January – 9 March 2019
Open Monday – Saturday 10am – 4pm
A celebration of rural life through the eyes of local and internationally acclaimed artists including works from Norman Ackroyd, Sybil Andrews, Henry Moore, Samuel Palmer & Mike Webb.
Rural England has offered inspiration to artists for generations. While we tend to conjure up scenes of landscapes, exemplified by John Constable’s ‘Hay Wain’, rural art is in fact far more diverse and entertaining.
Taking a broadly chronological view of the art of rural life, the new Corn Hall exhibition starts with Thomas Bewick’s woodcuts from around 1800 including animals from the agricultural revolution such as his well-fed ‘Sow of Improved Breed’ and grumpy ‘Dunkey Sheep’ through to contemporary artist Hughie O’Donoghue’s ‘Green Man’, the symbol of the spring reawakening.
Along the way we have etchings by Samuel Palmer and the group of Pastoral artists from the early 20th century, who captured the mid-Victorian rural idyll in an age before mechanization; market town shop fronts from Eric Ravilious and woodcuts by the internationally celebrated Sybil Andrews, including her interpretation of her home town – Bury St Edmund’s – market.
Add a 1950’s tractor, ‘Bees’ from Graham Sutherland, delightful sheep by Henry Moore, chickens by Kenneth Armitage and landscapes from Phil Greenwood and Norman Ackroyd and a sweeping glimpse into rural life through the ages starts emerging.
Local artists also make their appearance: Mike Webb contributes minutely worked watercolours of mysterious barns, Michael Carlo a randy Cockerel ‘The New Boy’ and a reminder of rural industry, and ‘Mill Workers’ by Maz Jackson.
and occasionally amusing, the exhibition shows us that rural art is just as
diverse as living in rural East Anglia. “There is no better place to celebrate
our agricultural heritage than the Corn Hall in Diss, which functioned as a
farmers’ trading market as little as two decades ago. To see this collection of
work together in the venue contextualizes East Anglian experiences of rural
life in national history; it’s a great way to connect through our shared
Jessica Vincent, exhibition organizer.
Hand-in-hand with the artistic impressions of agrarian life, the
upper gallery features ‘Working the Land by Hand’; an exhibition in
collaboration with Diss Museum displaying a collection of beautifully
handcrafted implements used to work the land, in an age before farming
became mechanized. These tools have fallen out of use, so much so that
the function of some of the tools showcased in the exhibition is now a mystery,
with vital information being lost over the years. Explore the agricultural
heritage of Diss and its surrounding areas and put your knowledge to the test…
Can you help us to identify some of the tools?
Entry to the exhibitions are free, with the works in ‘The Art of Rural Life’ starting from £20 to purchase. The Corn Hall is a member of the Own Art scheme which allows art buyers to spread the cost of payment over a 10 month period interest free, representative 0% APR.