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Transformative art to shape Norfolk's future tourism landscape

Norfolk County Council, 5 October 2022 00:00

This summer has been a great success for the EXPERIENCE project, funded by the European Union, as newly commissioned artists develop their concepts for public artwork - connecting the city to the countryside - with the planned Norfolk Way Art Trail.  The trail will provide new adventures which can begin in Norwich and entice visitors to explore Norfolk's natural and cultural assets.    

The Norfolk Way Art Trail is a new, long-distance walking and cycling route to enhance and join up existing trails.  Public artworks will be situated at five sites along the trail.  The 250-mile circuit provides a city gateway to more rural locations off the beaten track and on the water.  

The sites are at Diss Mere, Reedham Ferry Inn, near Honing Station and two locations in Norwich city; EXPERIENCE has worked with the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) team to commission transformative installations at key city spots on St Benedicts Street and Eastbourne Place, subject to the appropriate planning permissions.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member responsible for Arts and Culture, explained:

"These installations are aimed at encouraging people out on the Norfolk trail to enjoy art, nature and to learn about the wildlife and the heritage of the area, offering a more sustainable and low impact form of tourism for visitors to Norfolk." 

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director, Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) said: 

"Following the success of our Love Light Norwich Festival, we are excited to continue our work with light to develop an all-year-round attraction available for free in Norwich as part of the Norfolk Way Art Trail. Our two new light installations have been produced in partnership with local communities and are designed to illuminate and celebrate Norwich's unique history and light up the gateways into our city. We're looking forward to seeing these come to life next year!"

The EXPERIENCE project supports local tourism and hospitality businesses across Norfolk in developing new, low-environmental impact, off-season tourism experiences. The project contributes to Norfolk County Council's plans to cut carbon emissions and support nature recovery.

It is important to state that the Art Trail does not take any money from local councils or pull on the purse strings of Norfolk County Council. Instead, this vital work is made possible with European Union funding which is specifically set aside for innovative projects promoting nature and culture. EXPERIENCE is a €23.3m project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (€16m) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

Norfolk County Council's procurement team have been working closely with key local stakeholders to discuss providing a maintenance budget and ensuring that councils are not burdened with costs in years to come.

The Norfolk Way Art Trail's four artists are the Iron Reef viewing platform by design studio Maetherea for the Reedham Ferry Inn site; toyStudio's Flock sculpture for Diss Mere and their Flint installation for St Benedicts Street; the Interval design by Limbic Cinema for Eastbourne Place and Studio Sabine Marcelis's Honing Passage which will be situated near Honing Station.  The artists themselves have described their ideas as part of the selection process:

The Flock concept by toyStudio for Diss Mere is inspired by the flocking behaviour of birds in flight, schools of fish and the swarms of eels which are synonymous with the Mere and the nearby River Waveney. Just as wildlife migrates to Diss, many different communities have also arrived and been welcomed into the town.  The local community are invited to share their stories which will be showcased as part of the installation.

At Reedham Ferry Inn, the design agency Maetherea modelled the Iron Reef as an amphibious structure resilient to and shaped by the ebbs and flows of winter tides. The Iron Reef will be planted with appropriate aquatic, oxygenating plants that will grow around and on the structure.  Maetherea (Matter + Ethereal) is a multidisciplinary creative practice guided by artistic duo Cristina Morbi and Aurora Destro.

Interval is a playful light sculpture that uses layers, repetition and rhythm to reflect on the passage of time in Norwich.  Inspired by the large Sycamore and Beech trees found at Eastbourne Place, the sculpture is an abstraction of tree rings (or annual rings) that visualise the passage of time over the course of a tree's life.  QR codes embedded into many of the upright elements enable people to access carefully curated short form audio insights on culture, diversity and creativity of Norwich.

Flint is inspired by the rich history of Norwich's beautiful buildings, medieval streets, referencing elements which speak to the local history and heritage of the wider area.  Flint is formed of a collection of mirrored totems placed around the grounds of the Norwich Arts Centre. Their shapes are inspired by the organic forms of the flint walls, which not only form the Church of St Swithin, but are an inescapable and indelible part of the history and landscape of Norfolk.

Dutch designer Studio Sabine Marcelis created Honing Passage to be a unique place for the community to interact, reflect, and enjoy nature. Honing Passage embraces the beauty of the local landscape along the Weaver's Way at Honing Station, near the North Walsham and Dilham Canal. The installation will be activated by its surroundings and the seasons; when the sun hits the piece, beautiful light reflections are cast, and when it's raining, beads of water will trickle down the surface in a mesmerising nature. A static piece, yet forever evolving and interacting with the natural world it inhabits.  

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Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:44

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