Eastern promise: contemporary art on the Norfolk coast

The county’s current open studios event is one of many reasons to tour coastal towns such as Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, where affordable spaces and special light are attracting young artists

I’m not sure which is more remarkable, the sculptures or the way they have been positioned. I am considering two colossal works by Henry Moore at Houghton Hall in north Norfolk. Large Reclining Figure (1984) lies before the west front, its back to the house, demanding to be appreciated against the Palladian mansion. Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae (1968-69) stands in front of the east facade, framed by the landscape beyond. Both have been precision placed by the curator, Sebastiano Barassi, head of collections and exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation.

Six of the sculptor’s gigantic abstract observations of the human figure and other natural forms are on display this summer in the vast parkland of the 18th-century home of Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Yet Houghton Hall‘s current owner, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, tells me the place to start a visit is with other smaller sculptures by Moore inside the hall. “They teach you how the artist thought and worked. Then you understand how the big pieces came about,” he says.

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