The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) is one of the most important public university art galleries in Britain and houses some of the world’s finest art. Designed in the 1970s, it was the first major public building to be designed by renowned architect Norman Foster. Opening in 1978 at the UEA (University of East Anglia) with the support of the great philanthropic family, Lord and Lady Sainsbury, who donated their extraordinary collection of art, which included great works of art from around the world.  

This year, SCVA hosts a series of impressive exhibitions

THE JOURNEY OF THINGS  3 AUG – 15 DEC, organised in partnership with The Hepworth Wakefield.

Magdalene Odundo OBE is one of the world’s most esteemed artists working in the field of ceramics. This major exhibition brings together more than 50 of Odundo’s works, spanning four decades, from the mid 1970s to works created for this exhibition. Odondo’s work is set out alongside over 100 objects, hand-picked by the artist for their connection to or in inspiration to her work – and a global story of vernacular crafts spanning 3000 years.

The Sainsbury Centre also showcases Transition II, Odundo’s largest work and created with glassblower James Maskrey at the National Glass Centre in 2014. The huge installation is made up of 1001 individual suspended glass pieces. Presented in the context of Odundo’s ceramic practice, and redesigned site-specifically each time it is shown, Transition II is a sweeping crescendo, suggesting flowing water or a murmuration of starlings.

‘Odundo reimagines the vessel in uniquely sculptural and architectural ways. Her hand-built forms are shaped by a desire to reflect the beauty and diversity of the human body. Her works are dynamic and intensified by their surfaces, which are highly burnished and range from vibrant orange to iridescent blacks.’ (SCVA)


The pieces have an innate strength – from the sensual thick shine of the metallic looking ceramics and the ashy black to copper created by burnished clay, these pieces are poised and pregnant, phallic and full. Some have a strange half human, half alien feel and ultimately and indeed contrastingly are passive, in their true receptacle form. The sweeping display of glass pieces in ‘Transition II’ instantly asks for breath to be held, a moment of peace to be captured, a realisation of a gentle unfolding, or a glimpse of the utter fragility of life. Well worth a visit.

(Top image credit: Transition II, Magdalene Odundo, photo: Chris Radburn, PA Wire)