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To Norfolk with love

PUBLISHED: 09:41 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 09:41 16 May 2013

Charlotte Davis and Louis Orsi at their new art gallery, Wroxham, called Riverside Art and Glass. Picture: Denise Bradley

Charlotte Davis and Louis Orsi at their new art gallery, Wroxham, called Riverside Art and Glass. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2013

This month, Luigi Orsi will finally fulfil his dream of opening his first gallery combining his two passions in life - art and life by the river in Wroxham.

“We fell in love with the area after our honeymoon which was 37 years ago,” he says. “Then as the children came along, we holidayed on the Broads, and then bought a boat and put it here in Wroxham and our love for the area just grew and grew.”

The family now have three holiday cottages in the town and their own retreat on the river banks, so it was little surprise that Wroxham was where Luigi wanted to open his ambitious contemporary gallery.

“For 30 years I have been in the clothing businesses based in Northamptonshire but prior to that I was in the Royal Navy, hence my love of boats.

“But art has always been my other passion. Last year I sold my business, and it seemed the perfect timing to go for it.”

Until Luigi fully retires from his business next year, the gallery will be run day to day by Luigi’s son Louis and his partner Charlotte Davis, who studied Fine Art at Edinburgh University and then went on to work in its art department.

“It was perfect timing, they wanted to return south to Norwich for Louis to pursue a career in teaching, and now it means Charlotte can use her experience to run the gallery as well.”

Riverside Glass and Art promises to be an exciting place – with a diverse collection of work from both local, national and international artists - some of which will never have exhibited in the UK before.

It will be a reflection of Luigi’s own diverse taste and promises to have a very personal feel.

“I have never been able to walk past an art gallery, I have got more personal paintings than I have got wall space,” he laughs. “It is getting to the point of an obsession. I am passionate about all forms of art, I love glass work, ceramics, wood, bronzes, oil paintings, everything really.”

Luigi is keen to give local artists a platform to exhibit their work and hopes they will be inspired by what they are hoping to achieve at the gallery.

“We are looking at local artists all the time, we are at the heart of the Broads, so I want to reflect that,” he says.

“If you are a local artist then please come and see us and get involved.”

Luigi’s business has taken him all over the world and he often spends time seeking out exciting new artists.

He has just commissioned several pieces from an artist in the Ukraine called Vladimir Piven and cannot hide his excitement.

“He is amazing. I had seen his work some years before and I thought if I ever open a gallery I want this man to be a major part of it.

“His government is so impressed he has managed to sell these paintings they are planning to send the cultural attachè from the Ukrainian embassy in London to meet him when he comes over – hopefully to be one of our artists of the month.”

Luigi describes Piven’s oil paintings as bold and vivid, playing with light and colour to capture his passion for boats and the natural world.

Among some of the other artists who will be featuring at the gallery are Jane Gowans, a young jewellery designer from Scotland; Scott Irvine, who creates innovative wooden sculptures, mixing glass and metal in to his hardwood pieces; Bob Crooks, one of the UK’s most renowned glass designers; and Heather Lee Durrant, a local artist who draws on the wild landscapes and natural beauty of the Norfolk landscape to create her beautiful abstract paintings.

Charlotte, who will be running the gallery, says they have drawn on their own personal experiences from the various places they have lived and travelled when selecting artists.

“We have focused on discovering people whose passion and ability make their work outstanding in their disciplines,” she says. “We have also endeavoured to create an exhibition that brings together artists that have not previously exhibited in the area, offering the public something different to the current galleries in Norfolk.”

The gallery will open on Saturday 30 March.

Riverside Art and Glass, 24 Norwich Road, Wroxham, NR12 8RX, 01603 784000.

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