Voicing Visions – Eighty Leading Norwich Artists and Poets Combine

Norwich Twenty Group’s (N20G) spring exhibition, Voicing Visions, Artists and Poets Collaborate, is a unique and ambitious fusion of Norfolk art and poetry.

The exhibition at St Margaret’s Church, St Benedicts Street, Norwich runs from Monday, May 11 2009 to Saturday, May 23 2009, 10am to 6pm daily, free admission.

More than 40 N20G members – painters, sculptors and print makers – have been twinned with local poets, who have written poems inspired by the works of art. Nearly 100 collaborations will be on display at St Margaret’s.

N20G is publishing an accompanying Voicing Visions book, featuring photographs of the artists’ work set alongside their ‘twins’’ poems. The book will include a CD of the poems read by the poets. The CD will show an image of each accompanying painting, sculpture or print, as the viewer listens to the poetry on their computer.

The recorded poetry will also be put on MP3 players, to give visitors to the exhibition the option of listening to the poetry as they contemplate the art.

David Holgate, Chairman N20G said: Voicing Visions is a joyous celebration of the arts. It is very exciting to see another artist’s response to your work. My ‘twin’, Bill Jervis wrote The Hand, after seeing my sculpture of Mother Julian of Norwich. Bill’s evocative and thoughtful poem reflects on the transience of life and the eternal nature of sculpture.”

The piece will endure, linger long time
Connecting our living to eternity

from The Hand, Bill Jervis.

“I would like to thank Norwich New Writing Partnership and University of East Anglia, Creative Writing course for their help in securing poetry ‘twins’ for our artists, “added David Holgate. “I would also like to thank the artists and poets for their enthusiasm in bringing this fabulous series of collaborations to life.”

David Holgate’s sculpture of Mother Julian is set in a niche on the west front of Norwich Cathedral. The niche had been empty for 600 years, until he was commissioned to carve Mother Julian as a Millennium project.

Norwich Twenty Group

N20G was formed in 1944 comprising professional artists from the Norwich School of Art and Design. The group is no longer limited to 20 and now has more than 60 members, several of whom exhibit regularly in the West End and abroad. All aspects of the practice of contemporary fine art are represented e.g. sculpture, print, photography and painting.

Over the years the membership has included nationally known artists, for example, Michael Andrews, Bernard Reynolds and Jeffrey Camp. Colin Self has taken an active role as have numerous art historians and architects.

Mary Newcomb, one of Britain’s best loved artists, famous for her visionary ruralist paintings, who died last year, was a member of N20G for many years. Her work often sold at exhibitions for around £20. It now changes hands for five figure sums. An exhibition of Mary Newcomb’s work, Mary Newcomb’s Odd Universe, Fire, Earth, Water, Air runs at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery from May 9 to June 28, 2009.

Current N20G members include Andy Campbell, David Holgate, Ros Newman, Vanessa Pooley and Laurie Rudling.

Mother Julian (detail) by David Holgate (photograph Jeremy Haywood) and poem in response – The Hand by Bill Jervis

Hand to hand
Metal to stone

He carves a universal gesture
Not imitating but creating
Revealing tenderness and strength
Once waiting in the stone
With fixity of purpose

Experience engraves some truth
About our lives on our hands
Clasping painfully or vigorously
Strengthening or weakening
As our tentative grasp on life
Offers connections with friends
Until finally undone
Unable to hold on
We release our fingers
With a forever farewell

We leave footprints in the sand
Fingerprints on random objects

This piece will endure, linger long time
Connecting our living to eternity

Bill Jervis

Lighthouse and Lookout in Orfordness Landscape by Peter Baldwin and poem in response by Pat Jourdan

Lighthouse and Lookout, Orfordness 2008

Take any summer day –
as figures stroll across scrubby sands
the tension between sand and sea
shows in the buildings towering over them.
Like a stick of seaside rock
there’s the fun of a striped lighthouse,
amusing while it protects,
but the land-lookout is different,
blocks of black, sinister beneath
a dimpled sky.
And this is how we guard an empty shore
with cluttered buildings trying their best
to monitor filmy space.
Out of sight, masts, the tentacles of broadcasts
send messages from Lantern Marshes to the world beyond.
At night – these little figures home in bed –
all of this landscape ticks and tocks
in constant wariness,
on duty throughout a silent tide-washed night.
Next day the artist approaches,
places all the story together,
smooths it out,
tethers with a golden section.

Pat Jourdan

Balance by Vanessa Pooley and a series of poems in response by Lisa D’Onofrio

Poems for ‘Balance’

With one hand on the keyboard
And the other going round and round the garden

With one foot in the mashed banana
And the other at the edge of the abyss

With one hand finding out what the temperature is in space
And the other dialling for interplanetary assistance

With one foot on the wheel of the pram
And the other not stepping on cracks

With one hand wiping up spilt milk
And the other nit combing hair

In 10 birthdays time
Will you wonder,
if you were ever really there?


There’s no applause, no grease paint, no Ring Master’s crack
In our every day attempt at the circus act


9 and a half months

I think of all the heart burn
And waiting I could have saved
If instead of putting my bun in the oven
I cooked it in the microwave.


Iced Haibun for baby

When people said ‘I’ll remember this day forever,’ I used to think, of course you will, but now I think –what –a whole day? How can that be possible?

So I close my eyes
to tether this moment
Spring showing up the dust
beyond the window
and you, sweet hot lump of fat
on my hip,
your gummy fingers
kissing the air
your breath disturbing
all atoms

Lisa D’Onofrio