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Bizarre dress made of tea bags needs to find a public display says ex-Norwich landlady

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:18 27 September 2020

Jude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Jude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant 2020

Derek James catches up with a famous double act who once ran a popular Norwich pub

Jude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project. Picture: Sonya DuncanJude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Think about a display which will catch your attention…it is unique and it will certainly lighten the mood in these tough times.

The centre-piece is a dress like no other – made entirely from more than 400 recycled tea bags.

And another attraction will give you a clue to the creator of these masterpieces….a replica model of a certain public house in the heart of Norwich.

They and many others have been made by Jude Gudgin, who was famous for being “the skinny bird in the restaurant” while her husband Chris, was the “grumpy old git” behind the bar.

Friends saved Jude tea bags to help her make the dress. Picture: Sonya DuncanFriends saved Jude tea bags to help her make the dress. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Jude and Chris were a legendary double act who ran the Walnut Tree Shades for 25 years.

This wasn’t so much a pub it was more a second home for people who loved the atmosphere, the drink, the food and of course the fabulous live music not forgetting the records on that original Wurlitzer jukebox which accepted “old money.”

What a place…a slice of America in an old city. Some of the best bands and musicians around played the Shades. Our own King of the Blues Albert Cooper was a star attraction.

Chris and Jude retired in 2008, yes it is that long ago.

Jude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project.
 Picture: Sonya DuncanJude Gudgin has created a dress completely out from teabags as part of her art course called The Everyday Life project. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Asked why he was off Chris told us at the time: “Because I’m old, knackered, worn out and don’t like people anymore.”

While Jude added: “Some of our customers are upset, some are traumatised and some are even seeing counsellors.”

A few years later she wrote a brilliant and highly entertaining, adults-only, warts-an-all, book looking at the way it was, running a busy city centre public house for a quarter of a century.

Never a dull moment – ever.

Former Norwich publican Jude Gudgin back in the Walnut Tree Shades with the book she has authored charting the highs and lows of running the Norwich city centre bar with her husband Chris pictured in 2011. Picture: ArchantFormer Norwich publican Jude Gudgin back in the Walnut Tree Shades with the book she has authored charting the highs and lows of running the Norwich city centre bar with her husband Chris pictured in 2011. Picture: Archant

So, how have they been getting on? That’s where the tea bags come in.

After the book Jude, went on a carpentry course, restoring old furniture and decorating the garden in weird and wonderful ways until friend persuaded her to sign up for an art and design course at Sapphire House Art Academy in Norwich.

“There were a few tears of frustration along the way, as I felt all my classmates seemed accomplished artists and I was struggling. Our grades would be based on our final project, and this year it was Everyday Life,” said Jude.

Her theme began with childhood so she created a model of a messy bedroom made from foam, clay and various other objects.

Jude 's model of The Walnut Tree Shades. Picture: Sonya DuncanJude 's model of The Walnut Tree Shades. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The next stage was growing up and everyday life so she made a replica of the Walnut Tree Shades…where else!

The final part was retirement, enjoying relaxing times, so she made a tearoom with a gravity teapot made from paper mache along with cups and saucers, and cupcakes from from…Polyfilla.

“I then had a crazy idea,” explained Jude.

“I would attempt to make a full adult size wearable dress, shoulder bag and shoes, made entirely from more than 400 recycled teabags. Family and friends all saved their teabags for me, which had to be dried and emptied, I then did some lino cut printing.”

“I now feel immensely proud as we have just received our results and feedback and I obtained a distinction,” said Jude.

“Whilst my work was on display at the Academy I was informed by the tutors that my models and teabag outfit created an enormous amount of interest amongst visitors, so it seemed a shame now to just have them stored away in an attic,” she added.

Jude would love to display the outfit and models in public if anyone was interested. The teabag dress would certainly cause a stir in a shop window.

If you would like to know more or could display this unique dress and its companions drop Jude a line at chris.gudgin@sky.com


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