I am sorry it has been a while since an update found its way to you but it has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. As well as the usual run of work, last week I went an auction, to try and buy 13 lockup garages to use as artists studios, performer space and hackspace workshops, surrounded by a community garden and allotments - well that was our idea anyway. Unfortunately the price went way out of our league and another worthy soul got them. Though he will still be renting them out as garages so if you live in the Aylsham Road/Drayton Road area, get in touch. I talked to the guy who bought them (he owns Head in the Clouds) and at least he is going to improve them and refurbish them - they are a bit rundown right now. Anyway, it took up a lot of time and emotional energy but I am back to the screen now and updating you with lots of lovely things to do.
Which includes telling you about developments with Norwich Hackspace - we are about to start a regular Monday evening session at the Norwich Men's Shed, borrowing their space and some of their equipment. We have run a couple of free workshops - one on Arduino, one on Robotics and one on CNC routers, and we plan more once we have finished our negotiations with Men's Shed. For those who have no idea what a hackspace is, or think it is to do with dubious and criminal activity it isn't - it is a shared workshop where people can work on projects. It attracts people who like 'tinkering' with things, re-making things, repairing - and in addition to traditional workshop facilities such as lathes and saws it also has a tendency towards more high-tech equipment such as laser cutters, 3D printers and more experimental processes as well as making the most of the skills and knowledge that has been around for years. The main thing is that people can share their interests, knowledge and skills and have the use of a bigger space than they have at home. It is still very much early days and we are developing bit by bit but if you join the Meetup group here you will get updates and notices.
Alongside this, we have set up a Hyperlocal group, basically a coding club for kids. There is a monthly meeting at the Library and one in between at Epic. It is just at the beginning so if you know anyone that is interested in coding, please put them in touch. For more info about Norwich Hackspace and Hyperlocal please check www.norwichhackspace.org or the Norwich Hyperlocal webpage. There is a flyer of Hyperlocal dates attached.
At the moment I am working on Cley 15, an annual contemporary art exhibition in the North Norfolk village of Cley and the beach nearby so look out for news about that - it launches 1st July and runs from 2 July to 2 August. It is an exhibition by 44 selected artists and 4 guest artists and is curated this year by Meryl Doney. You can read more about Cley 15 and other art events at www.artinnorwich.org.uk. It is worth following the blog for updates and reviews. There is also a new edition of its sister publication Music in Norwich out on the streets so look out for it in the racks or download a copy from www.musicinnorwich.org.uk. Tomorrow there is a Messiah by Norwich Baroque and UEA Choir at Norwich Cathedral and on Saturday 25 April Norwich Baroque with Pergolesi Vespers here is a weekend festival of Borodin this weekend at the John Innes Centre run by Norfolk & Norwich Chamber Music so there is plenty for music-lovers as well as fans of the visual arts.
There is a series of lectures at NUA, one of a number of events to celebrate the university's 170th birthday. As an alumni, I am very happy to help celebrate a fine history as an art school and a journey into university status and an ever-widening range of courses. The inaugural lecture last week was 'Writing with Scissors: a Sideways Approach to Narrative Design' by Graham Rawle, and is followed this week with another led by Marie-Claire Isaaman and Anthony Hudson - details below
Growing Cities: Crowds, Games and the Web
Wednesday 22 April, 6-7pm
Norwich University of the Arts, Duke Street Lecture Theatre
Free public lecture as part of the N170 lecture series
With NUA Senior Lecturer in Games Innovation and Research Marie-Claire Isaaman + NUA Visiting Professor of Architecture Anthony Hudson
How can the planning of our cities, towns and villages be more responsive to the desires and wishes of their inhabitants?
To date we have relied on top down thinking that hasn't captured the real needs of people. In contrast this talk proposes a radical departure from normal ways of thinking about planning our environment. It takes forward ideas from Anthony Hudson's last lecture How the City lost its spots: pattern, order and chaos and brings the discussion firmly into the 21st Century, looking at how the web and digital games offer exciting opportunities for us all to design the places we want to live in.
BOOK HERE or rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org
Francis Bacon and the Masters at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Biggest news of the week must be the opening of Francis Bacon and the Masters at
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
The show opened on Saturday 18 April and runs till 26 July. I was privileged to be able to attend the Press preview and opening night of the new show at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts 'Francis Bacon and The Masters'. It is another in a series of blockbuster shows at the Sainsbury Centre, one of architect Norman Foster's seminal buildings and one of my favourite places to go.
The show is packed full of works on loan from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and includes a Picasso, a Cezanne, two or three Rembrandts, three Van Goghs, three or four Velasquez, Michaelangelo sculptures, Rodin, Cellini and more. Each of these artists's work are juxtaposed with works by Bacon which reveal and highlight the inspiration he took from great masters and the study of their work and working methods. In addition to the works are insights into Bacon's life and his relationship with the Sainsbury family through letters, photos, books and cuttings. If you are at all interested in art, you should definitely go. You have to pay to get in but it is, after all, it is right on our doorstep so you don't have to fund a day out in London or Paris to see an exhibition that would be at home in any of the national galleries.
I was standing nose-to-nose with a couple of Van Gogh works and it was just so cool to be right up close - I did a project on Van Gogh when I was at art school and never dreamt I would be able to have such a one-to-one with his work - it was very touching actually. Even if you are not a great Bacon fan, you will find this exhibition interesting, and as I say, it is amazing to have these selected works by the great masters right here in Norwich.
There is also a series of associated talks and lectures, with the first one on Tuesday 21 April. I am due to be in Birmingham and will probably miss it but I would definitely go if you are here - it is a panel discussion and live review of the exhibition by people who know what they are talking about! You can get details at www.artinnorwich.org.uk
If you enjoyed Masterpieces last year and Reality this year, you will not be disappointed by Francis Bacon and the Masters - take my word and go (great museum shop too!). Later in the year, opening 19 September Magnificent Obsessions which is currently at the Barbican will be right here in Norwich too.
There are a number of other art exhibitions opening across the city at Will Teather at Mandells & Anteros and John Midgely at Fairhurst Galleries, plus the series of works by Ana Maria Pacheco at Norwich Cathedral, St John's RC cathedral, NUA Gallery and Norwich Castle. The Manet exhibition at the Castle has just finished but is building up for the Jeff Koons exhibition as part of Norfolk & Norwich Festival which launches 8 May.
Norfolk & Norwich Festival starts 8 May 2015
Speaking of the Festival, it kicks off on 8 May with a number of free events including maverick Belgian company X TNT with a premiere of Dedriving Code which challenges what can and can't be done in public spaces, choreographer Willi Dorner's Fitting which involves dancers and acrobats fitting into gravity-defying nooks and crannies in the city and C.A.P.E which gives us a chance to sample virtual reality in city streets. The blockbuster finale free event is 451, inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 down on St James' Mill development site off Barrack Street and Whitefriars. There are so many events and so many layers from classical music in established venues to contemporary music in more diverse venues including the world-class Voice Project and a performance in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art - world-class performance in a world-class venue. There is also a literary festival within the main festival, programmed by the Writers' Centre Norwich, and Live Art Club programmed (and held) at Norwich Arts Centre. The ever-popular Spiegeltent has now become a regular fixture for the festival in Chapelfield Gardens, and the centrepiece for the Garden Party, another set of free events for families.
My personal recommendations are A Girl is a Half-formed Thing - an adaptation of the novel by award-winning Eimear McBride which is likely to be dark and disturbing but having heard Eimear read passages from the book when it launched at the Bookhive in 2013, I would not miss it. Wolf's Child at Felbrigg Hall is also booking fast and will be a show-stopper site-specific production by Wildworks (you can take part in it if you have time and inclination - see below), Hot Sardines and John Etheridge and of course, the aforementioned Jeff Koons exhibition at Norwich Castle. I am also fascinated by The Measure of Things, a new documentary by Oscar-nominated film-maker Sam Green which is showing at Norwich Theatre Royal for one night only. The film is inspired by the Guinness Book of Records and weaves together portraits of record-holding people, places and things. It's a bit geeky but I think it will be fascinating and I will go! Also moving will be a Turkowski film called Margarete showing at Norwich Puppet Theatre over a number of days. I had a look at some Turkowski films on youTube a few months ago and they were extarordinary. Margarete is a film I would have probably over-looked otherwise but I will definitely get to see this. I will also go to the Literary weekend event The Thomas Browne Affair as I am a fan of Sir Thomas Browne (one of Norwich's under-celebrated historic characters to whom there are sculptures dedicated on Hay Hill). Hugh Aldersley Williams has written a book about STB, the first intelligible and readable one I have come across so I recommend that too.
Hofesh Schecter Company's show Political Mother also comes highly recommended so if dance is your thing then get tickets fast as they are selling out. Or Bromance which is at St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth where Britain's hottest talent in circus will be knocking the audience's socks off. There is so much stuff that I can't go through it all but I hope that I have inspired you to have a look through the programme and get booking if you haven't done already. And if you want to email me for hot tips for the kind of thing that you like to see or hear, drop me an email and I will do my best to oblige with recommendation - you can't beat that for service. I am not paid by the Festival to do this but every year people tell me that they missed things because there is so much to choose from and they don't know where to start - so think of it as a personalised Festival shopping service!
And if you want to take part in the Festival yourself, see below. It takes quite a bit of commitment but will be a fantastic once in-a lifetime experience - see below.
BE PART OF THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL - IT’S NOT TOO LATE!
There are still places left for participants who would like to be part of the performance of Wolf’s Child, which is taking place at Felbrigg Hall in North Norfolk during Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2015. As well as being part of one of the UK’s largest arts festivals, by taking part you will also get to work with the internationally renowned landscape theatre company WildWorks, who are creating this exciting and powerful new promenade performance.
In particular we are looking for*
· Maid’s Chorus - Women of all ages (but in particular 16 – 30 years) to be part of a 15-20 strong ensemble
· Artisan Wood Workers – Men of all ages who work with wood - carpenters, wood turners, wood carvers, sculptors or anyone who works by hand with wood to be within the performance – you can create your work while the audience pass by
· Men and women to be ‘Crow Stewards’ – helping to guide the audience through the woods during the performance
· Wolves – fit and agile performers to help support our wolf pack during performances
*Rehearsals for wolves will be weekday daytimes and some weekends leading up to performances.
You might be someone who already likes acting or you might have no previous experience – everyone is welcome. If you like theatre or just want to try something new, then we would love to meet you. For the wood work role, no acting will be required; we simply want to see you doing your craft.
WildWorks are currently here in Norfolk to work with all participants as they develop this exciting new piece. Workshops taking place are on;
· Wednesday 22 April, 6-9pm - ‘Crow Steward’ participants workshop
· Thursday 23 April, 6-9pm – Maid’s Chorus workshop
· Friday 24 April, 6-9pm - Women’s Chorus workshop
· Sunday 26 April 10am to 6pm – All participants
· Monday 27 April 6-9pm – Crow Stewards
· Tuesday 28 April 6-9pm – Crow Stewards
· Wednesday 29 April 6-9pm - Woodworkers
· Thursday 30 April 6-9pm – Maid’s Chorus workshop
· Friday 1 May – 6-9pm – Maid’s Chorus workshop
· Sunday 3 May – 1:45 – 10pm – All participants
· Monday 4 May – 4 – 10pm – All participants
· Tuesday 5 – Saturday 23 May (excluding Sundays) – 6pm call time at Felbrigg – Performances (5pm bus from Norwich to Felbrigg will be available as well as car shares)
If you are interested in the opportunities above and are able to attend one or more of the workshops above, please contact Francesca Hepplewhite at Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
Participation & Engagement Intern
For more information visit nnfestival.org.uk/takepart
**Those people who are selected to take part will need to be available for performances from 5- 23 May 2015.
The Writers' Centre Norwich has just moved from its home in Princes' Street to the fabulous Dragon Hall in King Street. This means that Dragon Hall will no longer be a visitor and education centre but it will instead become the National Centre for Writing in the fullness of time. It will be great for the Writers' Centre as it will give them much more space and it's also a new lease of life for Fragon hall, one of the city's oldest buildings. You can read more about the move, and the plans here.
What Next? Norfolk
What Next Norfolk continues to meet on Wednesdays 8.30-9.30am at The Garage in Chapelfield. Free to attend, it is a great opportunity to meet people working in the arts in Norfolk and also we have guest speakers. This week (Wednesday 22 April) the speaker is Carol Lunney who is going to come and talk about Theatres Tax Relief which has also been applied orchestras. Carol worked for HMRC leading the team who devised the Tax Relief which is intended to help companies to produce new work, although there is still some confusion about how it will work. So if you are curious, come along. It is informal and friendly and very useful. In June, What Next? will have a spell of lunchtime meetings so if you can't do early mornings, hopefully you can make a lunchtime meet so we will shuffle about a bit with timings. If you want to be updated please email email@example.com to be added to the list.
There is also a What Next? group launching in Great Yarmouth convened by Liam Murphy of Gallery 133, at 133 King Street GY. The first meeting is tomorrow Tuesday 21 April. Email Gemma if you want to know more.
Sunday Music at Strangers Hall
Strangers Hall Museum is now running a series of music events called Musical Sundays, which will be the fourth Sunday of each month 1-4.30pm, to give additional atmosphere and enhance visitors exploration of the amazing building, and of course perhaps feature garden music during the summer months. Strangers Hall is one of those places that you probably always mean to go to and possibly don't ever get there so this is an added incentive to out it on your Sunday list. It is a fabulous place, being set in a former merchant's house (they had all the money in the old days!)
I must head off now as I am going to a conference about public art and regeneration called the Art of Dwelling in Birmingham. Got to drive up there so if anyone wants a day trip to Birmingham, I'll be setting off at 6.30am and coming back in the evening, free ride!
Will be back soon with more cultural gems, tips, recommendation, gossip and news, sign up to follow the blog at the link on the right and you will get all the news!
All the best