Visions of Sudbury – the sixth of these exhibitions that we’ve held
by Anne Grimshaw
The sixth bi-annual Sudbury Society’s Visions of Sudbury art exhibition opened to the public at St Peter’s Church on Tuesday 6 October after the Private Viewing the evening before and the official opening by Lord Phillips. It finished on Sunday 11 October. Almost 90 artists and photographers as well as pupils from Thomas Gainsborough School and Ryes College displayed their works, each one depicting one of the 247 Listed Buildings in the town.
This year Visions was organised by Robin Drury, vice chairman of the Sudbury Society, who said that the theme of Sudbury’s Listed Buildings was chosen as a focus for artists and visitors to the exhibition, many of whom were not aware that Sudbury had so many Listed Buildings. It was also in-tended to create community spirit – which it did – as indeed did the horrendous fire in Friars Street which some artists had chosen to depict. One of the most popular buildings to be depicted was the 15th century, black-and-white timber-frame build-ing now called Salters Hall on Stour Street. Imagination was not in short supply here with creative ‘takes’ at buildings we see every day such as reflections in shop windows. Media included mosaic, acrylic, oil, pastel, watercolour and photography.
Most of the works were for sale and several were sold at the Private Viewing with many others find-ing new owners throughout the week. The largest by far both in size and price, (almost £7,000) was ‘Seeing Jessie Home’, a bird’s-eye view of a B-17 Flying Fortress “coming in on a wing and a prayer” with one engine out of action as it returned over Sudbury to Chilton airfield in 1944. Sudbury artist Steven Binks had created one of those incredibly detailed pictures that every time you look at it you see something new.
About 2300 people visited Visions, with over 600 people through on Thursday alone. Overall sales totalled more than £3,500 with a further £280 do-nation to the Friends of St Peter’s, collected during the event. The Sudbury Society also awarded prizes for art that the judges liked and answered the brief well. Prize money was donated by Suf-folk councillors John Sayers and Colin Spence from their Community Fund. Works from the exhibition will feature in a new book the Society now intends to publish highlighting Sudbury’s Listed Buildings.
As an addition to the normal format, the exhibition also hosted the fledgling ‘Sudbury Small Business Show’. This included stands presented by Sudbury-based micro businesses – a furniture maker; a decorative glass designer; a black-smith; a stone mason and an architect, amongst others. This may well prove the start of an annual show of its own.
These events do not just happen. A huge amount of effort goes into organising an event like this. In 2013, after the last Visions show, our committee pledged that they would not hold another exhibition. But Robin Drury believed that by using Sudbury’s Listed Buildings as a theme there was still life in the Visions format. Robin and his team, including artist Michelle Webber and your committee, have done a fantastic job in encouraging artists, promoting and getting all the exhibits hung on time – even though one of them only just made it and had to be labelled ‘Wet paint’! Then, of course, it all had to be dismantled…and the books balanced!