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Replica Samson and Hercules statues in Norwich are given a multi-coloured makeover

PUBLISHED: 12:12 11 May 2012 | UPDATED: 18:45 11 May 2012

The replica Samson and Hercules statues in Tombland are getting a multi-coloured makeover for art show during the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Pictured are Tom Lamprell and Adam Broadley painting the statues.

The replica Samson and Hercules statues in Tombland are getting a multi-coloured makeover for art show during the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Pictured are Tom Lamprell and Adam Broadley painting the statues.

Emma Knights

The Samson and Hercules statues on Tombland in Norwich have been given a multi-coloured make-over for a new art show.

The well-known Samson and Hercules statues on Tombland in Norwich have been given a multi-coloured make-over for a new art show.

The white figures, which are replicas of the originals that used to flank the doorway of the old Samson and Hercules ballroom, have been painted a kaleidoscope of colours for the exhibition - called The Show - which will be at the former nightclub until May 26.

The exhibition celebrates colour and mark-making, and it features paintings and drawings by artists Tom Lamprell and Adam Broadley, both from Ringland Hills, and Tazelaar Stevenson, from Norwich.

About the Samson and Hercules statues, Mr Lamprell said: “We just thought we wanted to brighten the area up and just bring a bit of colour and joy to the street.

“The statues are going not be painted like that forever, it is just for the show, and we have had quite a lot of good comments from people about them.

“The intention is that we will paint them white again in two weeks’ time.”

He said the art exhibition fills most of the ground floor of the building, and that in the future they hope to hold other exhibitions there too using even more of the space.

Samson and Hercules House stands on the site of a significantly older building. It is thought the current building was built by the Mayor of Norwich, Christopher Jay, in 1657, with the statues originally made from timber, but white replicas were installed when Samson lost an arm.

The building once housed a large swimming pool. Later on, a dance floor was installed over the top of it and the building was transformed into a ballroom in 1939.

At that time it became a popular venue with the troops stationed in Norwich. But the building was severely damaged by fire in 1944 and was renovated and partly reconstructed in the early 1950s.

Many Norwich couples first met each other there and it was a popular wedding reception venue in the 1940s and 1950s.

Over the years, as the venue went from being a ballroom to the nightclub Ritzy’s and Fifth Avenue, and more recently Ikon, there were plans for the statues to be removed, which sparked a public outcry. As a result, they were retained and restored.

Now the upper floors of the Tombland venue have been converted into residential accommodation and the ground floor and basement have planning permission for a restaurant or café,

About the statues being painted, a Norwich City Council spokesman said: “While the building is not actually listed, having been extensively repaired after fire damage, these are quite iconic landmarks. This means that while the council has no objection to these being part of an art exhibition for a short time, we would want these to be returned to a colour that is in keeping with the character of the area. And it is our understanding that intention is that these will be painted back in two weeks.”

• The Show exhibition is open everyday from tomorrow until May 26 from 11am until 3pm. Admission is free.

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