Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery/Mary Webb (2013)

The Fund awarded Norwich Museum & Art Gallery a grant of £3,500, which, combined with funding from Norfolk Contemporary Art Society and a private donor, enabled the Museum to acquire the painting ‘San Fillippo IV (version 2)’, by Mary Webb.

The painting, measuring 152 x 152 cm, is ‘…characteristic of Mary Webb and her practice of playing with colour, surface, geometry and nature, but also represents new areas of interest that she has been exploring in her more recent work. It is not the first time that her usual arrangements of squares and rectangles laid in horizontal and vertical arrangements have been broken by dynamic angles, but here, combined with the overlapping of these squares and their almost circular arrangement across the canvas, she plays with our perception of space and depth…’

‘Webb’s abstract, geometric and flat forms situate her within a tradition of modernist painters, including Malevich, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Colour has always been central to her practice and is sought in the landscapes that surround her at home in Suffolk and during her travels abroad. Many of Mary Webb’s works are ambiguously titled with the names of the places that inspired them. ‘…my concern is with colour and the spatial sensations and emotions it can evoke, frequently linked to the memory of place.’ ‘San Filippo IV (version 2)’ is derived from time spent in a village of that name in Tuscany, Italy. The nearby Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence is a favourite of Webb’s. On the outer walls she describes ‘…a stunningly simple geometric design using green and white local marble.’ She talked of wanting to use this stimulus in her work but admits that in the painting’s development the reference became fleeting…’

(Norfolk Museum & Art Gallery press release, 30 October 2013).

The work is a significant addition to Norwich Museum’s modern and contemporary art collection, and is on display at the Timothy Gurney Gallery.