Norwich pub The Birdcage becomes artists’ studio for life drawing classes

It is not a sight you would expect to be confronted with when you enter a pub, but one city venue is transforming itself into an art studio to host life drawing classes.

The Birdcage, in Pottergate, is giving people the chance to practise their skills at drawing the human form with monthly art classes.

The fifth class so far was on Tuesday with Thomas Pegg, who is also a life model at Wensum Lodge, posing for the session.

The classes were the idea of the pub's manager Hollie West who is a Norwich University College of the Arts graduate.

She said the two-hour classes which take place in a curtained-off area of the pub had proved very popular and that at some sessions there had been so much interest she had been forced to turn people away.

She said: 'I just think it is nice that you can have a drink and draw at the same time.

'We start with a series of short exercises, then we do fun things like drawing with the wrong hand and without looking at the paper. The second hour is split into three or four longer poses so people can really focus on what they are drawing.'

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Among the people taking part on Tuesday was 17-year-old Notre Dame High School student Laura Fong.

She said: 'I have been to the classes quite a few times. I am studying A-level art and so extra life drawing is always handy.

'Life drawing is quite hard to find in Norwich so it is good that The Birdcage is doing this every month.

'The art classes here are quite relaxing and there is a nice vibe.'

Eighteen-year-old Thorpe St Andrew School student Rachel Honeybone, who will next year study art at Central St Martins in London, said: 'I have been to other life drawing classes before but it is nice here because it is a lot more relaxed and cosy and it is a nice environment to draw in.'

Artist Peter Kavanagh, from Sheringham and who exhibited paintings of full-frontal male nudes in Sinsin's Love Store in Norwich earlier this year, said: 'I do quite a lot of life drawing and I like the way Holly has set this up.

'It is great fun because you can also have a drink and listen to music at the same time. It is all about the atmosphere.

'As an artist you need to regularly practise life drawing so I try to go to any classes that are going on.

'There is lots of drawing in pubs in London but here in Norfolk it is very unusual.'

The life drawing sessions take place on the last Tuesday of every month. The next session is from 7pm until 9pm on Tuesday, June 26. Each session costs �3. Places cannot be booked in advance and the maximum number of people per class is 25. Basic materials are provided.

The Birdcage also exhibits art work for free in the pub's art corridor. For more information email

For more information visit

Take Five in Tombland is holding an exhibition of nudes and figurative ceramics from June 3 to 10 each day from 11am until 6pm. An evening of nude drawing is also taking place at Take Five on Thursday, June 7 from 7pm until 9.30pm. The class at Take Five costs �8 and booking is essential – call Peter on 07860 568874.

The Evening News has been urging people to return to pubs in our Love Your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit

Are you involved in a new art project in Norwich? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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