Bowthorpe families are taking part in special show for Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Bowthorpe families are among the people taking part in a Norfolk and Norwich Festival community project which will culminate in a show in the city centre.

Five groups are taking part in Spontaneous Communities - an initiative which is building upon the 2011 NNF project Spontaneous City which saw bird box sculptures installed in trees in Eaton Park, Waterloo Park and near Cow Tower.

Throughout the last year the groups have been working with artists and doing everything from 'toast-sculpting' to drawing to video work. They will be putting on a special show based on their experiences at the Anteros Gallery, in Fye Bridge Street, from May 4 to 9.

Artists Sophie Fox and Mandy Roberts have been working with the Creative Play group at the SureStart centre in Bowthorpe. About 12 families are involved in the group which meets every fortnight, and the Spontaneous City-inspired sessions generally involving creating and responding to different environments.

On Tuesday the families had fun experiencing a sensory space created through special lighting.

Ms Roberts said: 'It was a sensory experience for them. We created the atmosphere and then let them explore.

'It is mostly creative play. It is about the parents and children working together and we have really noticed the growth of people's confidence.'

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Previous sessions have included creating a collage inspired by having a picnic by one of the bird box sculptures, building boxes to create a tower and working with clay.

Ms Roberts said for the final show they are planning to incorporate elements of the creative play sessions and create an environment for the public to explore via a game.

Other people involved in Spontaneous Communities include:

• Young adults with learning disabilities at the Hamlet Centre have been working with artists Lucy Garland and Georgie Manly, and their work has included shadow puppetry and using toast to create a replica of the Spontaneous City sculpture in Eaton Park.

• Herbalist Dan Wheals has created an 'Adopt a Herb' group at Bluebell Road South Allotment, and also online, where people are being encouraged to research a herb of their choice, finding out about everything from its medicinal properties to its herbal qualities.

• Artist Jessica Perry has been working with the Baseline Women's Group, part of Future Projects in Marlpit, and the group has been doing everything from felt-making to creating textile sculptures.

• Drawing Buddies, which meets at the Phoenix Centre in Mile Cross each week, has been working alongside artist Tricia Hall. The group has used the project as an opportunity to investigate the ecology of the city centre sites.

Nicola Peacock, the NNF's participation and engagement director, said: 'This year's Festival is all about real people and real experiences so it's great to see a project like Spontaneous Communities being inspired by the festival and shaped by local people.'

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is from May 11 to 26. For more details visit

Are you involved in an arts project in the city? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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