Visitors to the new GroundWork gallery in King’s Lynn will be forgiven for doing a double-take as they come through the front door.
For there on the newly-painted walls is a huge brown stain, which at first glance looks like the departing builders have had a mishap.
But actually this is a newly-created artwork by the famed Bristol artist, Richard Long. It has been created by taking mud from the nearby River Great Ouse and hurling it at the wall.
The ‘splash drawing’ artwork is not for sale, said gallery director Veronica Sekules (“not unless you buy the gallery”) but its potential value is shown by the fact that it sits next to 20 framed oblongs of mud taken from the River Avon. The estimated value of these when sold as sets of 10 is £200,000 each.
The Turner Prize winning artist’s work will be familar to visitors to Houghton Hall, where his large slate circle is on display in the grounds.
Dr Sekules is aware that not everyone will immediately “get” such avant garde work but said: “Richard Long who mixed mud from the River Ouse which he mixed to the right consistency and then in a very dramatic gesture threw it at the wall, but it is not just anybody who can do that and get this beautiful effect. What has happened as it has dried it has formed its own rivulets and these branches as if it is trying to get back to its origins like it is trying to get back to the river bed again. It is a beautiful, subtle image with a range of different colours. And it shows us how lovely the mud is, that we have piles of, we just take for granted and stare at. This has taken it into a different environment and made it into something else and shown us its beauty and I think Richard Long is an artist who likes to show the variety of nature, and he calls it cosmic variety of nature and he has revealed it the way artists often do by using it in an unusual way. It takes a lot of judgment to do that and as I say, not a lot of people can do that he has had 30 years experience in making work like that.”
Dr Sekules was formerly deputy director of the renowned Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. The new gallery is in a former furniture workshop, that had been derelict for some 20 years.
It has now been transformed into a stylish art galler. Visitors come into a well-lit space displaying art works. Upstairs is jewellery, plus a living space, which Dr Sekules hopes will be available for artists-in-residence to use.
On the top floor is a penthouse which will be used as a holiday let from later in the year.
All exhibitions at the gallery will have an environmentally-friendly theme, including the jewellery. All works will be for sale. Exhibitions will last for three to four months.
Apart from Richard Long, the first work on display is by Norfolk artist Roger Ackling, who sadly died in 2014 while planning the exhibition. Some of his unique weather diaries can be seen for the first time (a magnifying glass is provided).
The gallery in Purfleet Street, opposite the Custom House, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm.