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Newsletter - September 2013


Our Birthday Bash and Young Arts Project

Our 30th Birthday was celebrated with a wonderfully decorated cake and a glass of bubbly before the September lecture, and we were also very pleased to welcome the East Anglia Area Chairman, John Church, who gave a short address and cut the cake.

He sent the following message to us: Many thanks for a splendid evening on Tuesday. It was an utterly wonderful cake and the sparkling wine had been deliciously cooled. You do have some very talented members in Norwich DFAS and it was very interesting to meet and talk with some of them. The support that you had given with the school mosaic project was very impressive and the film, together with a commentary, will do very well at the October Area meeting, and there will be the media award as well. Please accept our thanks for a very enjoyable time.

Also present were the artist, Tyrel Broadbent and teachers from Locksley School, including the head Des Reynolds who thanked us warmly for our sponsorship of the mosaic and explained what a benefit it had been to its short-stay pupils. In the auditorium there was a short presentation made by the art teacher from the school, Kris, which showed progress of the mosaic from start to finish.

A short report on the mosaic project can be found on the Arts Activities of our website together with a slide show of its progress: click on

Lowry at the Tate

A very successful day was enjoyed by an almost-full bus of members at Tate Britain on 11th September. For a report on this, and some lovely images, click on this link:

September lecture

Those of us who went to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the exhibition ‘A Crisis of Brilliance’ were particularly interested to welcome David Boyd Haycock, its curator, as our lecturer. He started by showing us a photograph of the Slade students at the summer picnic in 1912 and identifying some of the students who went on to become well known; the only absentee from the photograph was Paul Nash.

SLade School Picnic

First was Stanley Spencer who is shown in the picture in the front row, second from right. His artistic life after the war was closely tied to the village of Cookham, which he loved. The First World War would change the lives of all these young men and women profoundly. Spencer’s picture ‘Swan Upping’ was left unfinished before his war service and completed in a more sombre style after the war.SLade School Picnic

Edward Wadsworth whose work became part of the Vorticist movement was another of the group, along with Mark Gertler, who grew up in poverty and for whom painting was an escape. He was a conscientious objector in the war and is famous for his anti-war painting ‘Merry-Go-Round’ which hangs in the Tate Gallery, and portrays the horrific carnival of war. In 1939 the onset of another war so disturbed him that he gassed himself in his studio where the painting was found after his death.

Richard Nevinson, the son of a famous war journalist, embraced the Futurism movement, and set out to do modern paintings. His war service included being a medical orderly and he saw shocking sights which he used in his art as an official war artist. He never recovered from what he had seen.

Dora Carington, with her modern bobbed hair, sits on the far left of the front row in the picnic photograph; both Gertler and Nevison fell in love with her but she met Lytton Strachey, and they formed a relationship in spite of the fact that Strachey was homosexual. When Strachey died in 1932 she shot herself, another victim of the tangled and tragic relationships that this group formed.

David Bomberg, the son of immigrant parent, became another war artist, Another of their number, Isaac Rosenberg, died in action.SLade School Picnic

Absent from the photograph is Paul Nash who started as a commercial artist and was advised to go the Slade, where he struggled. The teaching at the Slade was all about figure drawing and Nash demonstrated little talent or interest in this. Instead he became an accomplished landscape artist.

Henry Tonks, drawing master at the Slade was a wonderful draftsman and students studied renaissance paintings such as Raphael. Stanley Spencer’s self portrait is an example of this attention to draftsmanship.

The group was influenced by the 1910 first exhibition of Post Impressionism organised by Roger Fry, where works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso were shown in London. These scandalised art critics with their modernity but encouraged the young British artists of the Slade School. Stanley Spencer showed his picture ‘Apple Gatherers’ in the 1912 Exhibition which followed, and shows how he felt free to distort the human form.

Nash was excited to discover the post impressionists; as was Nevinson who tried to get his friends to join the Futurist movement, which became Vorticism in Britain. Another influence, especially on Gertler, was the Expressionist movement from Germany.

When the war came, the question was how could artists portray it: individual man had become part of a huge killing machine. Nevinson met the challenge with rigid lines and stark colours. Nash, whose famous painting ‘The Menin Road’ concentrated on the devastation to the landscape with destroyed trees, craters full of water, and an apocalyptic sky, shows only a few tiny human beings. Nash found himself at the end of the war to be one of the most famous of the young British artists.

David’s lecture had shown us how the war gave this group of young artists a subject, but also how it changed them and the development of their art for ever.

Masterpieces, Art and East Anglia

A major new exhibition has opened at the Sainsbury Centre and runs until 24 February next year. Curated by Ian Collins, a regular contributor to the EDP, this exhibition collects together objects that celebrate the distinctive richness of our region, from a bronze head of he Emperor Claudius to an Epstein head of Einstein. Paintings include works by Lowry, Turner, Bacon, Freud and Stanley Spencer. Object include a delightful Fabergé dormouse lent by the Queen.

There is a two-for one offer on admission on presentation of a NADFAS membership card; that is the small blue card issued by the National Association. For further details go to

The Biggest Drawing Festival In The World

October is Big Draw month in fifteen countries, and over 200,000 people take part every year. Hundreds of new and enjoyable drawing activities connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists - and each other. These events are for those who love to draw, and those who think they can't.

This year Norwich DFAS are sponsoring an event in the Forum on October 7th and have donated the sum of £300 towards this. Julia Sorrell, one of our members, has organised the event in Norwich and her leaflets and posters credit Norwich DFAS as a sponsor. Everyone is invited to go along and join the Big Draw!