Norwich Fringe Festival

EMMA LEE The festival will once again showcase the best of the city’s art, music, film and animation scenes. EMMA LEE discovers that you should expect the unexpected.


Take 120 artists, add 30 venues across Norwich, and sprinkle with a dash of the unexpected. That's the recipe for the ninth Fringe Festival.

Since it launched in 1998, originally as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the Fringe has championed the artistic talents of those living and working in the city.

And this year, after several festivals based at the former Bally shoe factory in Hall Road, it's moving back to the heart of Norwich, with several art trails, using shops, pubs and churches as venues among the highlights.

There will even be art in baby changing rooms.

The Fringe Festival programme is different each year depending on the skills and interests of volunteers, the venues involved and the artists' ideas.

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From March to June the Norwich Fringe team collects submissions and then curates the festival around the city, matching people's ideas to participating venues.

This year the organisers asked for site-specific, innovative work and the artists rose to the challenge.

The Library restaurant in Guildhall Hill has taken in six artists, including Zacron, who designed the famous Led Zeppelin III album cover, and Aaron Fickling, a young, up-and-coming painter from Norwich who is currently studying at the prestigious Slade art school.

Around the corner in the Norwich Lanes, Philip Browne is hosting Keith Pomeroy's installation It is Coming. Based on a book by Doris Lessing, it's a comment on present-day consumerism and a view from the future back to the present day.

Gallery Horace Blue has a show of recent work by Norwich-based pop artist Colin Self, and the Birdcage (formerly the Pottergate Tavern) is hosting cabaret evenings on Wednesdays during the festival.

St Gregory's Church, Perfect Pad, the Maddermarket theatre bar, SinSins, Ruby Rumba, Bridewell Museum, The Red Cross, Norwich Studio Art Gallery and Fabulous Frames are other Norwich Lanes venues to look out for.

Outside the immediate city centre, the bohemian Workshop café bar in Earlham Road is looking after Thelma McFarlane's small photographic canvasses and Cherry Styles' autobiographical photographs as well as hosting a day of performance on Saturday October 6 when young bands will be showcasing their talents from noon to 5pm.

The Green Grocer at Earlham House shops has Kally Davison's fungi and an afternoon of entertainment, food and cooking demonstrations, including a beer and cider marquee on October 14.

Another mini-trail a little out of the city centre is Alan Boswell and Will Giles' Exotic Garden on Thorpe Road.

Situated where the old AA HQ was, there is work in reception by Gena Ivanov and Nick Ball's giant wicker brazil nut on the grass verge along the A47.

And there are site-specific installations throughout the garden areas behind the building.

Will Giles' garden is open on Sundays and it is a fantastic opportunity to visit this unusual garden complete with works of art from six artists, including Nick Ball, Sue White, Marcela Tresova, Caroline Fisher, Ros Newman while Helen Wells and Juliette Adair have collaborated on a story-telling and visual installation in a tiny summerhouse.

There will be three nights of words and music at Dragon Hall, the Maddermarket bar and the Crypt Café at St Andrew's Hall mixing the talents of poets, writers and musicians.

On October 12 the Dog-Eared Collective present Barnaby Brown Orphan Extraordinaire at Blackfriar's Hall, fresh from the Edinburgh Festival.

There's a serious message behind the clown troupe Cosmo and the Foolhardy FolkRockstars' show. They will be exchanging toy guns for gifts and entertainment around the city centre on October 6.

And around the city Nicola Simpson has made a trail of Poems in Baby Changing Rooms, so keep your eyes peeled if you have a nappy to sort out.

The Fringe was started in 1998 by Ian Johnson and Pete Morgan. When the main N&N Festival moved to May, the Fringe continued under its own steam.

It aims to be an accessible event, putting art right in front of the public in the places that they go to every day and where they would least expect to find it.

The festival is largely unfunded and run on voluntary time - the organisers fit the festival around their day jobs, families and social lives and rely on financial and in-kind support from their sponsors and supporters.

The festival runs from Friday September 28 to Sunday October 14 and most of the events are free. For more information about the programme, plus an artists' blog, go to

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