WEEKEND WEB: Go wild in the aisles art

Mother and Child - Henry Moore
Mother and Child - Henry Moore
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Mum’s Gone to... blogger TRISH BURGESS visits the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich

If I suggested Sainsbury’s for a great day out, I’m sure you’d be less than impressed with the idea of a saunter down the aisles in search of entertainment. But if I tell you that the Sainsbury Centre on the outskirts of Norwich houses one of the most impressive art collections in the country, spanning 5,000 years, you might be more inclined to visit.

Designed by renowned architect, Lord Norman Foster, and located in the grounds of the University of East Anglia Campus (UEA), the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts was opened in 1978.

Robert and Lisa Sainsbury donated their extensive art collection, which they had accumulated since the 1930s.

Within this striking building are examples of tribal art from across the globe and works from famous artists such as Degas, Picasso and Modigliani.

You can easily spend a few hours here, discovering your favourite pieces - a silver llama effigy and a miniature hippopotamus caught my eye, alongside a sculpture by Henry Moore.

Take a break for refreshments at the spacious Modern Life Cafe or the smaller, specialist coffee shop, Kofra. There are views from both, looking out onto the lawns, where more sculptures can be seen, including a new installation, the Tatlin Tower, a 10m-tall construction based on the design of Russian architect, Vladimir Tatlin.

The tower is part of the temporary exhibition, Russia Season, which runs until 11 February. Radical Russia features work by avant-garde artists before and after the revolution. Royal Fabergé explores the intricate creations from this acclaimed jeweller.

I adored the Fabergé collection. Such exquisite work, especially the famous enamelled eggs. I had no idea our Royal Family owned Fabergé items: the Queen has loaned many pieces to the exhibition, including a vast collection of tiny jewelled animals from Sandringham.

Another temporary exhibition, not open during our visit, but running until April 3, features work by Roger Law, one half of the Fluck and Law partnership which created Spitting Image.

There are examples of his memorable puppets on show and the exhibition includes many porcelain objects as he is now better known as a major ceramic artist.

The permanent exhibitions at the Sainsbury Centre are free to enter, but we thought it was worth using the money we’d saved to pay for entry to a temporary exhibition. Car parking is free in the nearby car park (P7): just pick up a permit from the centre’s reception desk.

Explore the campus if the weather’s good to see if you can spot other sculptures: there are three by Henry Moore. If you look up to the roof of the library you’ll spy an Antony Gormley figure.

For more information about opening hours of the Sainsbury Centre, visit www.scva.ac.uk.

If you still need some retail therapy, you can always pick up a treat from the gorgeous little gift shop. Just don’t expect to do your grocery shopping here.

You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk