COKE SHELL GALLERY
|The Peter Coke Shell Gallery was officially opened by him on 13th April
2006 and is housed in part of the recently restored fishing sheds on West Cliff. It
was always intended that the building should contain examples of art and craft-work,
preferably connected with the sea, to provide an income for the maintenance of the
building and it provides a very fitting home for what is a most remarkable collection.
No verbal description can do justice to it and even photographs do not adequately convey
the colour and variety of the items present. The entire collection, made up of over
100 individual items, is the work of one man, Peter Coke, who has used seashells from all
over the world in novel and imaginative ways to form and decorate a wide variety of
Peter Coke was born in 1913 and trained as an actor, being most famed for
his role as Paul Temple in the long-running radio series of the 1950s and 60s. He
has also written many plays, which are still frequently performed. As part of a
long-term interest in antiques and objets d'art, he became fascinated by sailor's
valentines, eight-sided designs decorated with shells which sailors brought back from the
West Indies in the 18th and 19th centuries. From this grew an interest, which took
him all over the world collecting shells in their huge varieties of shape and colour.
His artistic creations led to many successful exhibitions in London. Peter
has generously donated all of his collection for permanent display in the gallery.
It is a sight not to be missed.
The gallery will initially be open from Easter to the end of September, from Thursday to
Sunday inclusive (plus Bank Holiday Mondays), between the hours of 12 noon and 5 pm. It is
in West Cliff, which is at the seaward end of Morris Street, where a public car park can
be found, only a short walk from the gallery. It can also be reached easily from the
West Promenade, being close to the concrete bridge over the Fishermen's Slope or West
Slipway. The admission charge is £2 for adults, £1.50 for concessions and
accompanied children under 16 are free.
The building will also be used to display photographs and memorabilia of the fishing
families of Sheringham and artefacts connected with fishing and boats. This part of
the building will be linked to the Henry Ramey Upcher Lifeboat exhibit. A small
upper floor area will be retained by the Preservation Society as an office. There
will also be space for two craft workshops, which may be rented by local artists and craft
workers willing to display their work.