An international art fair for Norfolk and Norwich – can it be done? #NorwichArtFair – Please Retweet

Can Norfolk and Norwich host a world class art fair?

A quick, crazy (half-baked) idea here for Friday – hoping Rosie Winn might write some more intelligent stuff about it on her blog later – have been tweeting Rosie (@Rosie_Winn) today about a vague idea I have* of launching a massive local art fair – something like Frieze London, or the Basle art fair – or the New York art fair.

I know we have lots of art shows in Norfolk – but I think we need something really big and wonderful to draw the international art crowd – and that’s important because, let’s not be ashamed about this, we want very wealthy people to come to the show and buy lots of amazing art. This is about encouraging people to #VisitNorfolk #VisitNorwich.

Open and Local

This needs to be a very open show – it has to embrace all manner of art – visual, audio, tactile, figurative, alternative, abstract and so on. Preferably (because we want to attract collectors) there should be an emphasis on contemporary but we should also welcome more traditional types too – such as classic landscape artists (since Norfolk was home to the famous Norwich School of painters).

Although I hope it would showcase young talent – such as the work of students at NUCA   – there should be no age restriction – the only qualifications should be that artists are talented – and local. Galleries would be welcome too – so long as they were promoting local artists.

Local is important – because this should be about showcasing talented artists living and working in Norfolk and Norwich. They might have moved here from the other side of the world – but if this is where they now live and work then they should be welcome to join the show. It would be great if the show had an international feel – and some high profile guest artists from the outside world might be great – but we don’t want just ‘another big name art show’. This has to be distinctive to the county and the city.

Where next?

*Obviously, when I said “…I have of launching” I did not mean me actually launching this show – for a start I have no idea how to run such a thing and I don’t have the resources (time or money) to organise it. More importantly I know nothing about art. So we need a rich sponsor or two plus a talented team of arts enthusiasts who can weed out the twee, derivative tat from the real stuff – we also need a wonderful, big, beautiful venue.

So do you know anyone who could help – might want to run this – or might know where to start? Perhaps The Forum, perhaps The Sainsbury Centre, perhaps HEART – or maybe the Norfolk and Norwich Festival? Sorry if I have missed you out of this list – rather a rush job this post – just want to get the idea out.

Who knows? Any ideas? Post away – be positive if possible – or simply list all the art shows (however small) currently running throughout the year in Norfolk – that might be a start. At least it might give us some contact names and helps promote them.

Thank you



22 thoughts on “An international art fair for Norfolk and Norwich – can it be done? #NorwichArtFair – Please Retweet

  1. Have had similar thoughts swimming in my head for a few years Huw, am only a micro and hate the politics of public funding. But would love to be part of a brain storm as have had over 12 years of building my profile and attending trade fairs around the country. I find it difficult that many Norfolk groups / individuals only promote themselves within Norfolk and not to the world outside, we hide our light too easily. I haven’t visited it but the new hall at the show ground may be a good space for such a prestigious event.


    • Thank you Linda – will be sure to include you in any discussions – very early days and vague ideas – not sure how this will work but like you I think we need to do a better job of promoting Norfolk and its artists to the wider world. Thank you for your support – please follow the #NorwichArtFair hashtag and RT when you can.


    • Hi Claire – thank you for positive response – however if we let in artists from Suffolk it wouldn’t be the Norfolk and Norwich Art Fair – and we would probably have to allow artists from Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire as well. It needs to have a clear focus to make it different. That said, I am sure Suffolk could hold and equally good art fair at Snape Maltings or in Southwold – perhaps Adnams could sponsor it. Cheers – H


    • On second thoughts Claire – and since many people think of Norfolk and Suffolk as two halves of the same gorgeous pudding – it could still be #NorwichArtFair with emphasis on local Norfolk and Suffolk artists plus international guest stars – and a gorgeous bookshop specialising in art books – and maybe some fascinating speakers – not to forget delicious food and drink from a whole range of local, independent producers – (you can’t view good art on an empty stomach). So yes – you would be welcome (please forgive earlier, slightly narrow minded response).


  2. NOTE: First #NorwichArtFair tweetup will be this Thursday 19 July @SirGarnetPub in Norwich from 6pm – all welcome – please join us and share your ideas. Thank you.


  3. Pingback: The New #NorwichArtFair! « rosiewinnart

  4. As you know, I can’t attend the tweetup as I have another networking event in Dereham but I am most definitely interested in this!

    I would like the group to explore the possibility of it being held outside Norwich perhaps, there are some fantastic venues where artists could be encouraged to make a weekend of it and actually exhibit their art in action.

    Anyway, I would really like you to keep me in the loop please.


    • Thank you Glynn – will certainly keep you in the loop – follow the #NorwichArtFair hashtag for news. However, I am not convinced about holding this fair outside the city.

      The location is very important – if we are to attract the international art dealers and collectors, it needs to have a strong name – Norwich is probably the strongest we have in the county. The risk of going elsewhere is that it gets seen as too parochial – or another festival in a muddy field. This idea is unashamedly high-brow – I want it to attract wealthy people who will pack the hotels and restaurants and give a real boost to the local economy. That said the space must be interesting – and large enough to accommodate a range of artists and, I hope, would include space for performance arts. But this is about selling art – not just exhibiting it.


  5. Great idea, I am following with interest. Contemporary, highbrow, in Norwich, all embracing, cross discipline, challenging, the lot. And, I very much hope, independent.
    There is a huge amount of work involved but it should be possible.
    C u in the “Alf” on Thursday.


    • Thank you Simon – funny you should call it the ‘Alf’ used to be known as that when I was a kid (early 80s) – didn’t know it still was. Look forward to meeting on Thursday.


  6. Sorry I can’t make the tweet up this Thursday. I’d like to see lots of workshops happening at the Art Fair. Artists demonstrating their skills to help folk appreciate their work. And visitors catching the bug of drawing, painting, creating…


    • Sorry you can’t make it – hope to meet you soon. Interesting comment – I was imagining this as much more sales focused – a way of drawing in the big spending international dealers and collectors. I agree that helping people appreciate your work is an important part of that process but it seems you and many others are keener on spreading the love rather than actually getting out and selling. That’s not a criticism either – the way this idea develops (if it develops at all) will be entirely down to those who contribute most – if my initial post helps get the ball rolling, great, but where is up to you.


  7. I wonder if you should have a word with Ivor Braka at The Gunton Arms before you do anything else? He is one of this country’s foremost contemporary art dealers and lives right here on our doorstep.


    • Thank you Maggie – I don’t know Ivor but am very happy for you to tell him about of our idea (if you know him) – all contributions are welcome particularly from experts. However, this is a collaborative idea and can’t wait on approval from one person – so we will crack on as best we can – tweetup tonight at Sir Garnet Pub by Norwich Market if you can join us – best wishes and please keep the ideas coming.


  8. Hi, have been following your blog it all sounds very exciting and a great idea! Unfortunately I can’t make the meeting tonight but would love to be involved. I am a Painting Restorer and very interested in Contemporary Art …so would be able to offer my skills as well as a lot of enthusiasm to help with organising. Hope it goes well. Alice


    • Wow thank yo Alice for the lovely positive response – sorry you can’t join us tonight – but do save and follow the #NorwichArtFair hashtag on Twitter for updates (and Rosie’s blog) – hope there will be plenty more opportunities to discuss – definitely need skilled people to make this work (particularly organisers) – cheers – H.


  9. Pingback: #NorwichArtFair – the start of a movement – please join | Huw Sayer

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