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The Art of Rural life

Venue: The Corn Hall

Living in rural England we form a unique perception of the relationship between home and landscape. What may be extraordinary to someone from a city may seem common-place to someone who lives in the countryside. Tractors on roads, hedgerows abundant with fruit, fields ploughed in the evening sunset. Sometimes tranquil, sometimes isolating – it is all part of the art of rural life.

Taking a broadly chronological view of the art of rural life, the 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 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, ‘Bats and 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.

Stimulating and occasionally amusing, the exhibition shows us that rural art is just as diverse as living in rural East Anglia.

You might also be interested in these other events and exhibitions referencing the theme of Rural Life

Working the Land by Hand exhibition

Arcadia - combining over 100 years of archive film about rural Britain

Frederick Rolfe, the King of the Norfolk Poachers - a talk by Charlotte Paton

Create a Traditional Corn Dolly workshop