Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

Looking Beyond Exhibition

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Looking Beyond: Conversation Between John Berger and John Christie is a new free exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre created by UEA’s MA Museum Studies students! This exhibition displays photographs, handmade books, works of art and videos from the Sainsbury Centre and from the men’s private collections as well as letters they exchanged.

My first impression was a really good one and I was surprised by the amount of things to see but also things to DO! This exhibition is a very interactive one and focuses on the conversation between Berger and Christie, between the different pieces (and their juxtaposition) and mainly between the relation between the artwork and the spectator! In this sense, this small exhibition was very eye-opening for me: I’ve been to the Sainsbury Centre many times before but the works on display invited me to rethink the museum, rethink art, and rethink my personal relationship with all the paintings and sculptures around me… And this is exactly what this exhibition invites us to do.

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What made the conversations between Berger and Christie so interesting is that they were talking about the Sainsbury Centre – which made reading their letters an immersive experience! ‘At the Sainsbury Centre, you are surrounded by faces’ said John Christie. I stopped and looked around me. Faces everywhere: paintings by Fancis Bacon, John Davies sculptures of heads and bodies… The idea of juxtaposition – the most striking feature of the Sainsbury Centre in my opinion – was emphasized by another quote about the juxtaposition of carved masks and Modigliani paintings: unusual but cool!

Questions about the way in which we see art and how art can trigger personal reflection are raised. It is the starting point of this exhibition: we need to explore displays with new eyes and look at art “properly”. Several of the pieces on display are accompanied by one or two quotes from Berger and Christie and by questions such as what it means to say that ‘a portrait is finished when the spectator looks at it’ or ‘which artworks remind you of people in your life?’

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I started to really think about it and, after this exhibition, I wandered once more around the rest of the gallery with these questions in mind.

Visitors are invited to directly join this broader conversation by writing or drawing at the back of postcards and looking at the responses given by other people. That was such a good idea!

This exhibition will be on until November and it’s free so don’t miss it! It is an excellent starting point if you’ve never been to the Sainsbury Centre, but you will appreciate it a lot more if you’ve visited it before. 

You can find out more on the exhibition’s blog, here.

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