Science behind the future of food research brought to life in new Norwich art trail

Artist Chris Jackson with his sculpture, which he's creating in a vacant unit at Chantry Place

Artist Chris Jackson with his sculpture, which he's creating in a vacant unit at Chantry Place as part of the Edible East art/science trail - Credit: Chris Jackson

A pioneering art/science trail is being launched in July as part of a project to bring to life the issues that researchers are investigating on the topic of the future of our food. 

Edible East is a new collaboration between local artists and scientists at Norwich Research Park which aims to promote discussion about a sustainable supply of food that's good for our health and the environment. 

Researchers from the Quadram Institute, Earlham Institute, the John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital participated in a series of workshops with around 30 local artists to share their knowledge on the globally-important issues they are investigating such as food sustainability, crop improvement, climate change and soil health.

The workshops generated a huge amount of debate and thoughtful discussion that has been subsequently channelled into the development of art for the trail to help illustrate the current challenges attached to the health of plants, people and the planet. 

The art will be sited at locations around Norwich, including churches, retail units and museum windows. Starting on Tuesday, July 13, it will run until March 2022, with more artwork being added over the coming months. The installations will be accompanied by information boards, incorporating QR codes for more details of the art and the science that inspired it. 

Edible East co-creator and local artist Jennie Pedley

Edible East co-creator and local artist Jennie Pedley - Credit: Jennie Pedley

Edible East co-creators are local artists Jennie Pedley (former artist-in-residence at Quadram Institute) and Chris Jackson.  

Jennie said: "I am delighted that Norwich will host this pioneering collaboration between its high-quality art and  science.  Through our first art/science trail, our new network of local artists will be promoting dialogue about the vital issues of food production and its links to our health and the health of the soil, wildlife and climate." 

Dr Jenni Rant, programme manager of the Norwich Research Park-based SAW (Science, Art and Writing) Trust

Dr Jenni Rant, programme manager of the Norwich Research Park-based SAW (Science, Art and Writing) Trust - Credit: SAW Trust

Dr Jenni Rant, programme manager of the Norwich Research Park-based SAW (Science, Art and Writing) Trust, a charity that helps to bring science into everyday lives through art and writing, said: “Science needs to be placed higher up the agenda, especially in the minds of our young people, and we need to work harder at finding ways to inspire their interest. Edible East provides a great way to engage the people of Norwich in the ground-breaking science that is happening every day at Norwich Research Park.” 

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An exciting element of the project includes the use of a vacant unit donated by Chantry Place where passers-by can watch one of the key art pieces being created by Chris Jackson. He said: “One of the first things people will be able to see at Chantry Place is a giant growing sculpture based on the idea of a forest garden made from cardboard.

"I will continue to add further artworks to it over the coming weeks and visitors will later be able to contribute their own ideas and objects when it is displayed at The Forum in September as part of the Heritage Open Days Festival.” 

The festival will feature a week-long exhibition by Edible East at the Forum. Edible East will also run free workshops for the public at points along the trail to co-create new artworks and there will also be invitations to contribute artwork to feature in October’s Norwich Science Festival. 

Edible East has been supported by a grant from the Postcode Places Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by the People’s Postcode Lottery, with further support from Norfolk County Council, Clarion Futures and Norwich Research Park, horticultural advisor Nik Thomson, creative facilitator Hilary Thomson of The Ministry of Information, James Piercy from the John Innes Centre and the SAW (Science, Art and Writing) Trust. 

Follow #EdibleEast on social media. Look out for future creative and food growing opportunities at Edibleeast.org.uk

Picture of a new pair of sunglasses made by Coral Eyewear with an ocean in the background

Coral Eyewear launched a new pair of sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets to mark World Oceans day on June 9 - Credit: Coral Eyewear

Student eyewear company launches new range 

Norwich Research Park is home to over 150 businesses and one of the newest, Coral Eyewear, the brainchild of UEA student George Bailey, has just launched a new pair of sunglasses to mark World Oceans Day, which was on June 9.

Like the brand’s other frames, the new sunglasses are injection-moulded using ECONYL pellets made from recycled nylon from regenerated ocean fishing nets and landfill fabric scraps, which reduces the global-warming impact of nylon by up to 90pc when compared with material sourced from oil. 

Coral Eyewear was formed in 2019 by George whilst in his first year studying philosophy, politics and economics. His business took off with the help of UEA’s Student Enterprise Service and a £50,000 investment from the UEA Enterprise Fund, a donor-supported fund. George has spent the last year working on the business full-time for the ‘year in enterprise’ element of his course. 

Coral Eyewear now has six unique designs and over 30 colour and lens combinations. George said: “We have over 100 opticians stocking our frames now. And we have an online store where we ship sunglasses to customers using a plastic-free, carbon-neutral delivery system.” 

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