Kerwin Blackburn exhibiting his Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art music paintings at the Crypt Gallery at Norwich School in Norfolk, February-March 2022 | By Kerwin

By Kerwin Crypt Exhibition at Norwich School, Feb-March 2022

‘Lights, Canvas, Action III: Homecoming’, The Crypt Gallery, Norwich School, Norfolk 23 February – 11 March 2022

I exhibited in my hometown of Norwich in early 2022, in my longest and biggest art exhibition to date, at the Crypt Gallery at Norwich School between February and March. I titled this solo exhibition ‘Lights, Canvas, Action III’ after my previous two solo Norwich shows, and billed this as a ‘homecoming’ show after my last four art shows were in London.

The Crypt Gallery is a unique gallery space at my former school, Norwich School, in the heart of The Close next to Norwich Cathedral. It is the area underneath the school’s chapel, which is over 700 years old – making this by far the most historic venue I have exhibited at!

My entire range of Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art music portrait paintings, prints and merchandise was on display for the almost three-week stretch between 23 February and 11 March 2022. This was the first time that all of my pop art portrait paintings had been on display in the same place together.

This was my most successful art exhibition I have done, and featured sponsored Private View drinks receptions, a BBC Radio Norfolk live interview appearance, newspaper articles, and many original and print artwork sales.

During the exhibition I was visited by many friends and family, as well as former teachers. There were also educational visits from Norwich School classes and local educational institutions. Read on to find out how I organised this exhibition and to see some photos from the show!

Taking over Norwich School’s historic Crypt Gallery

Located in The Close, and right next to Norwich Cathedral, the Crypt Gallery is a commercial gallery that is also part of my former school, Norwich School, where I spent 11 years as a pupil. The Crypt Gallery is (by far) the oldest venue I have exhibited at – having been built over 700 years ago in 1316!

The space was originally the chapel’s undercroft, which was used in medieval times as a cellar and storage room. They apparently even used to store deceased bodies in there. The space was converted by Norwich School into a commercial gallery around 2019 for the benefit of the whole Norfolk art community, as well as for hosting student art and design exhibitions.

How did I plan my solo art exhibition in Norwich School’s Crypt Gallery?

I first heard of this gallery space at a Norwich School ‘Old Norvicensians’ alumni event on Pall Mall in London in autumn 2021. I was told to get in touch with a design teacher at the school, which I did a few weeks’ later in November 2021.

In early January 2022 I found out what dates the school had available to hire the space out, and I went along to view it (as well as a tour of some of my old school buildings!). I then confirmed my exhibition dates – almost a three week spell including the set-up and take-down days – which was just six weeks away.

Designing the layout of my biggest art exhibition yet

The Crypt Gallery provided a huge, well-lit space with so much room to play around with. Having such a large area of wall space to fill was both great because I could get really creative, but also challenging as I’d never occupied so much exhibition space before.

I decided I’d like to get my entire range of Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art paintings on display together – for the first time ever. I wasn’t sure when else I might have enough space to do so. The gallery also provided various tables and display stands which were ideal for showcasing my range of products, merchandise and homeware.

I decided to arrange my original acrylic paintings in two rows all around the room, with full-size prints of all the paintings I’d sold previously clustered together on one side. Every single music icon painting I’d ever produced in this style was therefore on display in either original or print form.

Playing on the music and Hollywood Walk of Fame theme of my artwork, I added LED strip lighting to go with my By Kerwin neon sign and TV playing my painting videos. I also purchased some large photos of my previous exhibitions to add extra impact and help tell my By Kerwin art story. I also had cool background music playing the whole time to complement the faces of the paintings on the wall.

The set-up took a whole two days – I did the whole thing on my own and was cramping up after the first day of going up and down my stepladder. Showcasing my colourful, vibrant and contemporary artwork in such a classic, historic venue made for a really visually exciting spectacle. Watch the behind-the-scenes time-lapse video of the set-up above!

Making my Crypt Gallery exhibition a Homecoming

The Crypt Gallery was my first Norwich art show since Anteros Arts Foundation in May-June 2021 – I was displaying my art in my hometown again after my previous four shows were in London in 2021. I emphasised this in my marketing, which also helped spread the message around Norwich School among my former teachers and current students.

I also managed to secure several pieces of press coverage, including in local newspapers Norwich Evening News and the Eastern Daily Press, as well as Norfolk Magazine. This was really helpful to attract visitors and buyers.

Private View drinks receptions sponsored by Southwold brewery Adnams

I knew I wanted to host a Private View opening night for my exhibition, and having got in contact with regional brewery Adnams, based in Southwold, they kindly donated a few crates of Adnams prosecco and soft drinks, which was fantastic. Many thanks to Andy Wood and the Adnams team for this!

This all went down brilliantly with friends, family, former teachers and press at the opening Private View. There was so much Adnams drink left over I held a closing Private View evening too!

Making a splash – with a live BBC Radio Norfolk interview from my exhibition

During the opening Private View evening, BBC Radio Norfolk came along to interview me doing a live walkaround talking about my exhibition. This was the crew I met before during my December 2020 debut Norwich Forum exhibition, so it was great to do record this as a follow-up to my debut radio appearance there.

This was a good hour and a half into the Private View evening and the sponsored Adnams prosecco, so to say I was bit high on all the adrenaline would be an understatement. The interview was a bit of a blur but it came out so well they featured the whole segment the next day without any edits! The full 9-minute recording is available to listen to below.

How did my Homecoming Crypt Gallery Norwich exhibition go down?

As well as being my longest and biggest exhibition so far, it was also my most successful.

The exhibition saw many prints purchased, both in person and online, along with a few of my framed, Jackson Pollock-style painting 12” vinyl records. Many items of clothing and merchandise were purchased too, including mugs, cushions and coasters. I also sold my David Bowie original painting to a couple of enthusiastic fans to celebrate a milestone birthday year, which was a huge highlight.

The experience of organising and managing this exhibition, like all the others, gave me further commercial and exhibition confidence on which to build in the future. I was also promoting my next art show, which was my June 2022 appearance at The Other Art Fair in New York – my international exhibition debut.

Closing the curtain on my biggest art exhibition to date

After a brilliant two and a half weeks on display, it came time to draw the show to a close. I recorded a further interview video with some closing remarks, reflecting on this great experience (watch below).

Over the two-and-a-half-week stretch the exhibition attracted hundreds of visitors from the local community, including many Norwich School classes and educational groups from City College Norwich and Access Creative College. My exhibition was also the backdrop to a school parents’ coffee morning, as well as a creative writing class. These different exhibition uses sparked many further ideas!

It was a really cool bonus to be able to speak to so many enthusiastic students. I spoke to both Norwich School art and design, and also economics and business students about both the creative and commercial side of my art journey. I really like immersing myself in both sides of my art brand – I think this balance makes By Kerwin stand out.

Being able to return to my former school, where I gained my educational grounding in both art and economics, was a fantastic experience and possibly the most fulfilling time spent on my By Kerwin journey to date.

Many thanks to everyone who was able to visit, as well as those who supported virtually with messages and artwork purchases!

You can continue to follow my art progress on Instagram and Facebook.

Explore my full range of ‘By Kerwin’ Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art paintings, and shop prints of your favourite music icons in my online store, All of my paintings are available as premium quality prints from £35 – £75, with fast worldwide delivery.

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