Turning fire helmets into works of art

13 October 2021

Former firefighting helmets are going on public display at the site of Norwich’s former fire station as part of a charity fundraising drive.

Residents are invited to along to view the exhibits in the Ashes to Art charity exhibition being held from October 23-29 at the town’s former Bethel Street fire station - which is now home to Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form.

In the summer, artists from all over Norfolk, across the UK and even beyond were invited to submit designs of what would look good on real firefighting helmets, in order to turn them into unique works of art. The helmets were worn by staff until they were replaced last year with newer uniform. The helmets have unique marks, dents and scratches from their time in service.

Service staff are working as volunteers on the project and had originally planned to display 65 designs but have now allocated 85+ after being overwhelmed with the community response.

“The public has really engaged with the idea of turning these helmets into works of art, and we were really impressed with the standard of the designs. Now, as they start to come back in ready for display, the reality is even more impressive and we would love to welcome everyone to come along and take a look. We are really pleased to give these operational helmets a new lease of life and recycle them for art purposes,” said Assistant Chief Fire Officer Scott Norman.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: “We have had amateur and professional artists working on these for us, and with no set theme the results are amazing and varied. The display is perfect for people of all ages to come along. We hope to have fire crews down there during the exhibition too, incident permitting, to provide advice and answer any questions from the public about fire safety.”

Laura Challis, Community, Corporate and Events Fundraiser at The Fire Fighters Charity, says: “On behalf of everyone at The Fire Fighters Charity, I want to thank all those involved in this incredible exhibition. Not only will these treasured helmets become unique works of art, but the money raised will make a huge difference to so many lives. These vital funds will help us, as a charity, continue to meet the physical, mental and social wellbeing needs of the entire of the UK’s fire and rescue service community.”

During the exhibition, people can bid on the helmets via an online auction, with the highest bidders getting to take the unique pieces of art home forever. View details of the auction, open from 23 October to 15 November.

Money raised from the auction and donations will go to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s chosen charity The Fire Fighters’ Charity (90%), with the remaining 10% going to Break.

The exhibition will be open as follows:

  • Saturday 23 October noon to 4pm
  • Sunday 24 October 10am to 4pm
  • Monday 25 October 9am to 4pm
  • Tuesday 26 October 9am to 4pm
  • Wednesday 27 October 9am to 4pm
  • Thursday 28 October 9am to 7pm
  • Friday 29 October 9am to 4pm

Donations are appreciated on the door or can be made via the givergy website.

The helmets will go on display at the site of the fire station, which closed in 2011 with the opening of the new Diamond Jubilee Carrow Fire Station in Trowse.

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