New studio space for artists in former Norwich shoe factory

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts has collaborated with St Mary's Works to offer graduate artists who

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts has collaborated with St Mary's Works to offer graduate artists who have studied in East Anglia a free residency scheme.The four graduates benefitting from the scheme are (l-r) Kirstin Bicker, Becky Showell, Henry Driver and Jade Anderson. Photo: Richard Ivey. - Credit: Richard Ivey

One of Norwich's former shoe factories has become a studio for four young artists this month.

Sexton, Son & Everard shoe factory 1959. Photo: Archant Library.

Sexton, Son & Everard shoe factory 1959. Photo: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

The recent Norwich University of the Arts graduates have been picked for a month-long residency at St Mary's Works, which was once the shoe factory of Sexton, Son & Everard.

Jade Anderson and Becky Showell, who have graduated with BA degrees in fine art, and Kirstin Bicker and Henry Driver, who have achieved MA degrees in fine art, will be sharing the studio space for the next few weeks to create new work which will then be put on show in a public exhibition.

The residency project is being led by Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) in collaboration with the Shoe Quarter Ltd, which is proposing plans to regenerate St Mary's Works and the neighbouring St George's Works.

Nell Croose Myhill, education officer at SCVA at the University of East Anglia, said: 'We are really excited to be collaborating on this project and to be able to support young artists to continue to develop their practice in the first year after graduation by providing them with a free studio space and the opportunity to learn from their peers and from artists and curators based in the region.'

The Norwich factory of Sexton, Son & Everard. Dated 29 February 1972.Photo: Archant Library.

The Norwich factory of Sexton, Son & Everard. Dated 29 February 1972.Photo: Archant Library.


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Professor Neil Powell, pro vice-chancellor (academic) at Norwich University of the Arts, said: 'The residencies provide valuable time and space for emerging talent to make the transition from successful student to professional practitioner.'

The residency is linked to the Shoe Factory Social Club initiative being run by the Shoe Quarter Ltd at St Mary's Works, and which offers free warehouse space to the local creative community. There are a number of events planned for the space over the next few months, including a screening of Kinky Boots during the Norwich Film Festival on November 10.

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For more about the Shoe Factory Social Club, visit www.shoefactorysocial.club and find Shoe Factory Social Club on Facebook.

St Mary's Works, St Mary's Plain, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

St Mary's Works, St Mary's Plain, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

HISTORY OF ST MARY'S WORKS

St Mary's Works was formerly the site of Sexton, Son and Everard. The factory was built in the 1920s, when the shoe manufacturer, founded by Henry Sexton, employed more than 500 people. The company became one of the city's largest shoe producers and continued to prosper following the Second World War. Mr Sexton, to give something back to the city which had helped him make his fortune, regenerated the Assembly House as a public resource. But, by the late 1960s, overseas competition started to take its toll on the company and, in 1972, the receivers were called in, making 750 people redundant. Since it closed, the factory has been home to small business, as well as a gym and snooker club.

St George's Works, which neighbours St Mary's Works, was formerly home to shoe manufacturer Howlett and White which later became Norvic before closing in 1981.

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