Norwich [thou] art fair – the shaping of an idea 2012-2015

<<Update 30 July 2015>>

Since my original blog in 2012, I’m delighted to say that Norwich has had some big wins on the art front. In 2014, the Sainsbury Centre hosted the wonderful Masters exhibition. Houghton Hall also showcased some of the finest classical pictures from the Hermitage art museum in St Petersburg. We’ve also seen successful cultural events like the Hostery Festival, Holt Festival and Voewood Festival.

In 2015, the Sainsbury Centre had a major show called Bacon and the Masters – and the Castle Museum hosted the only exhibition of Jeff Koons work in the UK this year. More importantly (although perhaps less widely noticed), Will Teather and Friends ran the first Art Fair East – which in many ways felt like the art fair I imagined three years ago. I hope it was enough of a success to return and grow.

As a result, I am expanding the focus of the @NorwichArtFair twitter account. Rather than concentrating exclusively on Art, I’m going to support the wider creative community – including Digital Creative and Business Innovation. Instead of thinking of Norwich Art Fair as an event – think of it as a statement: Norwich [thou] art fair.

<<UPDATE 6 March 2014>>

I wrote the original version of this post in July 2012. Plenty of you offered to support but (like me) no one had the time or resources to turn the idea into reality. (As you will see when you read the original below, I anticipated this.)

However, there are still masses of excellent cultural events in Norwich and Norfolk – and they are growing in scope and stature all the time. This post sparked blogs from Rosie Winn and others, which in turn helped unite local artists and art lovers on twitter and other social media platforms.

We still run the @NorwichArtFair twitter account. We hope you continue to support the ambition of building Norwich’s international reputation as a great place to experience wonderful art.

Thank you


The original Norwich Art Fair idea from July 2012:

Written in haste (other stuff pressing)…

Thank you to @Rosie_Winn who posted this on her blog It lists all the ideas (many and varied) for an international art fair in Norwich and Norfolk, which came up at our first tweetup (at @SirGarnetPub) last Thursday.

Thank you to everyone who came along and contributed their time and enthusiasm – particularly those who volunteered to help build, design and write a new Norwich Art Fair website. I really appreciate your support – particularly since there is no reward, save our gratitude.

It’s important to stress, these are early days. At the moment I’m just looking to see who might get behind this idea. Exploring ways we might mobilise forces in Norfolk to support what we already have (from the glorious productions of #NNFest to your local art gallery’s open day) and help build on it. Our ambition is to establish Norwich and Norfolk on the international art scene as a centre for creativity and talent.

You can join my list of interested tweeters (here simply by sending me a tweet asking to join #NorwichArtFair list.

You might who want to tell me this won’t, can’t, hasn’t or shouldn’t happen – but, quite frankly, I’m not interested in why nots. Instead I want to hear from people who want to help raise the profile of Norwich and Norfolk. If you think you are already doing this or something like it, then please let me know because I’d would love to support you.

Realising these ideas may be a dream. It might take years to attract enough sponsors and artists to stage a world class event. Even the shape of that event is not clear.

I hope it might be both high brow and inclusive. Drawing big crowds and big money but supporting local artists and encouraging more people to become involved in the arts too. But now the most important thing we can do is start the conversation.

At the very least, I hope we can build a network of people on social media who will support art events in Norwich and Norfolk – and share that support with the world. We need to convince people who love art and culture to #VisitNorwich and #VisitNorfolk.

Elsewhere, I have talked about the power of the Norfolk and Norwich Twitter Network (jokingly referred to as #NaNTwiNk). If that network supports the exciting cultural events going on in our community (from the smallest to the largest) it will benefit all who live and work in the region.

Thank you for your continued help and support.

@HuwSayer – July 2012

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


Here’s why @Brays_Cottage is my @VisitEngland #ETW12 Tourism Superstar – #NaNTwiNk Please RT

Dear Readers – your chance to WIN tickets to the new HARRY POTTER studios near London…

As part of English Tourism Week 2012, #ETW12, @VisitEngland is looking for the nation’s Tourism Superstar – you can get more details here. Entries (of no more than 50 words) must be in by 27 Feb (see my note below about the email address – now corrected – thanks @VisitEnglandBiz) – and one lucky entrant will win a pair of tickets to the UK’s newest attraction: The Making of Harry Potter – at Warner Bros. studios London, which open on March 31.

Here’s my submission on why Sarah Pettegree is my Tourism Superstar for #ETW12:

“Norfolk’s Tourism Superstar has to be Sarah Pettegree, founder of Brays Cottage Pies and the monthly Norfolk Diet Farmers’ Market in Norwich. Using Twitter, Facebook and her fascinating blog, she combines humour, passion and expert knowledge to promote the best of Norfolk, particularly its excellent artisan food and drink producers.”

Will the winner be from Norfolk?
You are obviously welcome to nominate your own choice – but if the Norfolk and Norwich Twitter Network #NaNTwiNk really pulls together, we might just ensure a local winner. Now I think such a result would really help boost tourism to our home county.

So please follow the link above and get your entry in today. If you are stuck for words, please feel free to use mine – or amend them as you want.

Your feedback is welcome
Remember to tweet your nomination – either by linking to this blog or your own – and if you are supporting @Brays_Cottage please include the #NaNTwiNk hashtag so other members of the network can find it and RT.

What do you think – is this a good idea? Please share your thoughts (and alternative nominations) here.

Thank you and best wishes