Norwich is a city of strangers. The Young Norfolk Arts Collective have embraced this idea in our final project for 2020. We aim to turn the narrative on strangers unveiling a city that is quite literally built on their diversity and community. From the Flemish migration which shaped the foundations of Norwich way back in the 1500s and also allowed the city to develop with 1/3 of its population as migrants all the way to its thriving student population who hail from all around the world that it supports today. We offer a unique insight into the different identities and voices of young people in the city.

We have placed the exhibition into the themes of Norwich ‘Then’ and Norwich ‘Now’. Scroll through to explore the work…

THEN

ABBIE NEALE

I’m a writer, actor and artist with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University and an intercalated year studying Acting and Scriptwriting at Monash in Australia. In 2019, I was lucky enough to win the New Poets Prize run by The Poetry Business and my debut poetry book Threadbare was published by Smith|Doorstop in June. For this showcase, I was inspired to create a series of sonnets (titled Letters to Ieper from Norwich, 2 October 1567, written with quill and ink) from the perspective of the Elizabethan Strangers and compare it with a painting (titled Norwich, by a Stranger, created using acrylic on A2 paper) of Norwich from my perspective now, as I myself am a ‘stranger’ to the city, having only just moved here from Watford. 

ANNA PAGE

Anna Page is a Decorative Arts Graduate who specialised in ceramics. As well as ceramics Anna works with mixed media, predominately using collage in her work. She explores a range of ideas and she is still developing her unique style and approach to ceramic pieces. Bold colours and abstract shapes often feature in her work and can be seen in this mixed media piece made for the “City of Strangers” YNAC Exhibition. In this piece of work the red budgie represents the Flemish who migrated to Norwich and have said to have kept budgies as pets. This is why Norwich City football club has a budgie as their emblem. The diamonds and squares are shapes taken from the windows of Stranger’s Hall and Blackfriars.

DAISY CAMPBELL

I am a second-year degree student, studying English Literature with Creative Writing. I have always been inspired by the storytelling which occurs within art — from chiaroscuro’s revelation of character in tonal nuances, to the objects imbued with symbolism in Renaissance paintings, the presence of a visual narrative, for me, is paramount — and this interest often informs the compositions of my work. In response to the City Of Strangers theme, I wanted to investigate the refraction of this title through the lens of both local and international frameworks, exploring how any city is inevitably composed entirely of strangers. Every person brings with them the indelible marks of their ancestors, whether these are located in the colour of their eyes, the curl of their lips, the rituals they perform, or the tales they recite. Norwich, in its coalescing of residents under the banner of its city status, is akin to the individual comprised of a string of familiar strangers. Painting a selection of faces from Norwich archival photographs, the final portraits created are figures composed of the many residents, estranged by time, and unified by their meandering of the same cobbled streets.

JUNO EVANS

I am a writer, it’s all I’ve ever really wanted to be. I use writing, in particular playwriting, as a means to express myself both personally and my view of the world around me. I am particularly inspired by our history and the stories and people who tend to be forgotten. For this monologue I looked at the letters and accounts of both those who had come to live in Norwich fleeing from religious persecution in Europe and those who had witness the destruction that took place of Catholic church’s in the late 1560s across the Netherlands and Belgium. From these I developed a story of a young person’s journey in coming to England and took real accounts to make a new voice to share their stories.

NOW

ANANYA WILSON-BHATTACHARYA

MARTYNA KOWALSKA

I’m Ananya, a writer and singer-songwriter, and my song ‘Outsider (13 Heads)’ is featured as part of A City of Strangers. I tend to write songs with just an acoustic guitar and I’m influenced by a lot of folk and indie music. This song began with the idea of someone everyone was watching – perhaps someone very charismatic, or somehow different – and how this made them feel. As I was writing, it made me think of the experiences of refugees and migrants, particularly children and young people arriving alone in a foreign country, and being seen as an outsider in this new land. I realised I wanted to bring these themes in explicitly, not only describing the protagonist’s experiences but also defending them, asserting their right to be there. The song thus ended up taking a more political turn, but I wanted to keep it upbeat and positive, affirming for refugees and migrants. I wanted a quirky comic style for the illustrations to go with this upbeat tone, featuring eyes as a key theme of the song. I love how Martyna’s illustration features both disembodied eyes and the city backdrop, evoking the loneliness of being a stranger in a big city.

Illustration by Martyna Kowalska

CALLUM RITCHIE

I am creative communicator with a multi-disciplinary skillset based in graphic design, illustration and copy writing. I have an interest in playful creativity that responds constructively to health and social issues within my community, in order to create positive and beautiful futures. My inquisitiveness and empathy are driven by a diverse creative background which includes writing for hip hop culture platform, Wordplay Magazine, and founding my own community events company, Site Collective, which recently received National Lottery Funding as well as working for the NHS for over 8 years.‘Macro signs’ is a research project that uses semiotics and content analysis to explore pedestrian signage redesigns for more inclusive users. It uses graphic design, illustration and creative thinking to explore a variety of visual languages and subvert meaning in order to turn a critical eye towards the modern complexities of expansive urban communication systems.

IMOGEN MCHUGH

My project for Norwich: A City of Strangers, was inspired by vintage travel posters and the concept of welcoming strangers. I centred on the market as the main image for the project as for me this represents the diversity of Norwich life, something that has existed for so long and continues to develop and interact with the people of the city. I also wanted to bring a kind of strangeness to this project for myself which was why I chose to work in a totally digital way. This was completely new territory for me and I’m really glad I chose to work in this medium. I wanted to make my project as accessible as possible, choosing bold colours and lines and minimal text input. As a disabled person, I know what it’s like to feel “strange” but my message for this project would be that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Diversity is in our history and it makes us stronger as a community.

JOE MILNE

I’m an artist from Norwich currently working on pen and ink illustrations and designs, I also enjoy creative writting, filmaking and music.Ive been developing my style for around 3 years, I started by recreating Pre Raphalite style artwork, using ink and watercolours before moving into a more psychedelic style with bolder lines and more expressive colours.My pen and ink illustrations are inspired by Aesthetic and Art Nouveua artists such as Aubrey Beardsey, Gustav Klimt and Kai Neilson and also Japanese woodblock prints and psychedelic art.Currently I’m workng on a deck of Tarot cards along with a series of short surrealist films.

My artwork for the City of Strangers exhibition is a photomontage / collage, of a surrealist landscape of Norwich Which represents the creativity and imagination that represents the tone and feeling of the city.I thought a collage would be the perfect medium for conveying a piece about a city strangers, a medium which is made up of separate parts which make a whole.The way I made it was by first thinking of all the ideas to be included and how the composition would look, then delving through loads of old magazines and internet archives and collecting everything I think I could use, alot of stuff needed colouring in or resizing to fit in with everything else, I spent alot of time reorganizng all of the elements until they all looked right.The next stage was deciding what order each element would be put down, which can be tricky with complex compositions but it all worked well in the end.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

RUBY PINNER

NATHAN BYGRAVE

This is a collection of three prints designed on Photoshop based around verbatim conversations with people who have moved to Norwich in recent years. We have used the colors of the Norwich flag (not to be confused with the Norfolk County Council flag lol) and the geographical shape of Norfolk. Conversations were taken from Ellie Davis, Sophie Kong and Niamh McCulloch.

Nathan Bygrave: Hi, I’m Nathan and I’m 21 years old. I am a Graphic Designer based in Dereham and Norwich. I have a passion for art and digital design. Check out my Instagram @nbdesign.norwich

Ruby Pinner: Hi, I’m Ruby and I’m 21 years old. I am a third year Scriptwriting and Performance student at the University of East Anglia. I love art, theatre and film.

 

Why Norwich?

YNA COLLECTIVE TAKEOVER ON ‘THE SOCIAL’ ON BBC RADIO NORFOLK