Being home to notable visual artists throughout history, from the renowned painter Walter Dexter (1876-1958) to fine artist Gustav Metzger (living in King’s Lynn for around 8 years from 1953) and the contemporary sculptor and Royal Academy regular Andrew Schumann amongst many more, it is no surprise that King’s Lynn is a town with fantastic opportunities to explore the visual arts. Indeed, the town centre itself is testament to this, featuring a wealth of public art and sculpture on its streets, in its parks and public gardens, and on main pedestrian areas.
Located on King’s Lynn’s Purfleet Street, opposite the town’s superb Custom House, GroundWork Gallery is a modern art exhibition space with an exciting and innovative programme of exhibitions focussing on how art can enable us to respond to our changing environment and shape its future. Always featuring a striking and bold arts and crafts programme throughout the year, the contemporary – and often cutting-edge – nature of the exhibitions at GroundWork Gallery gives the opportunity to experience the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a city arts gallery in a stunning rural environment.
West Norfolk has a fascinatingly rich arts and cultural history, reflected in the art galleries and organisations in the area, along with its locals: being the past and present home of modern British artist Matthew Hilton (son of abstract artist Roger Hilton CBE) and international sculptor Antony Gormley OBE respectively, among many other artists.
The area also has a strong heritage within the world of literature, being the home of internationally renowned diarist and novelist Fanny Burney (1752-1840), famous author Daniel Defoe having been a regular visitor to the area, and writer/actor Stephen Fry having grown up – and continues to be a long-term resident – in west Norfolk too. King’s Lynn resident Margery Kempe (c.1373 – around 1438, alive when the town was named Bishop’s Lynn) was a Christian mystic known for writing ‘The Book of Margery Kempe’, a work considered by many to be the first autobiography in the English language.
Complementing the rich heritage of literature in the area, King’s Lynn notably hosts the annual King’s Lynn Poetry Festival and the King’s Lynn Fiction Festival. These popular Literature Festivals are held during a single weekend in March (Fiction) and September (Poetry) each year, the guiding principle being to present some of the best contemporary writers in a congenial, historical and informal setting.
There is a lively arts scene in West Norfolk, providing high quality gallery exhibitions and open-air entertainment throughout the region.
Whether it is that ‘special something’ to take home with you, a handmade objet d’art, traditional craft ornament, or even a contemporary artwork or sculpture to add to your collection, West Norfolk has it all.
Whatever your taste you will find something to suit, be it a small intimate solo artist show or a larger local group exhibition showing a variety of traditional and modern approaches to art.From May-June each year, artist studios across the region open for curious visitors during the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios event – where you can go an art trails, personally meet West Norfolk artists, and buy stunning original artworks straight from their studios!
Take a visit to the regular Craft and Collectables Market at Downham Market too, held on many Fridays and Saturdays, for something more traditional.
Browse our Arts & Crafts listings for many more Arts gallery and venue details.
Along the West Norfolk coastline, Hunstanton boasts a range of popular arts and entertainment festivals too, including the Hunstanton and District Festival of Arts, the Hunstanton Carnival and the Old Hunstanton Flower Festival, where there are all sorts of horticultural or home-made creative gifts to buy.
For details of festivals, exhibitions and special craft markets around West Norfolk visit the events listings for the latest details.
Arts and Culture Venues
From the famous performances at the ‘Festival Town of King’s Lynn’, to the work of artists inspired by the architecture and landscapes of West Norfolk, check out details of a host of locations to visit including our leading regular entertainment venues.