LINES OF SIGHT
The story of the stolen skull of a doctor who invented words including disruption and electricity, pictures of the secret landscapes of the Cold War and exquisite pattern books created by Norwich silk weavers are all part of a new Norfolk exhibition.
The collection of curious objects, celebrated artworks and previously unseen photographs marks what would have been the 75th birthday of writer WG Sebald. The exhibition focuses on the story behind the creation of Sebald’s masterpiece The Rings of Saturn.
The visual and poetic journey through East Anglia was inspired by the life of Sir Thomas Browne and links the mystery of what happened to his skull with subjects ranging from the gas-lit winter gardens of a Victorian mansion to an exploded moon, and wartime bombing raids to the history of sugar beet farming.
Sebald, or Max to his friends, moved to Norfolk in his 20s to study and teach at the University of East Anglia. He became professor of European Literature but in 2001 was killed in a car crash, aged 57.
Sebald had been fascinated by overlooked people, places, objects and events and the exhibition includes his own photographs taken during the long walks which informed his writing. They are shown alongside images by photographer Michael Brandon-Jones who helped Sebald transform pictures and objects into the art that punctuates the pages.
Exhibition curator Dr Nick Warr, from the UEA, said: “Sebald’s books are an idiosyncratic mixture of text and image. Part fiction, part autobiography and part travelogue, they intertwine global history with personal memory to recount the fates of lost and forgotten people.”
Amanda Geitner, director of the East Anglia Art Fund, said: “This exhibition is a timely show case of Sebald’s unique vision – one that will bring new audiences to his work and his landscapes and prompt those literary pilgrims have already followed in his footsteps to return once more.”
Lines of Sight: WG Sebald’s East Anglia opens at Norwich Castle on May 10 and runs until January 5, 2020. museums. norfolk.gov.uk. Free, with normal Castle admission. The exhibition is being staged with the UEA and is sponsored by the East Anglia Art Fund and the Book Hive, Norwich.
ABOVE: Portrait of WG Sebald Photo: bridgemanimages.com BELOW: Chris Halton, writer and presenter of a new MR James documentary Photo: Jason Figgis