River provides inspiration for Norwich artist

Mary HamiltonA Norwich artist has been collecting stories and experiences of life on the river Wensum as part of an installation project.Mary Hamilton

A Norwich artist has been collecting stories and experiences of life on the river Wensum as part of an installation project.

Sorrel Muggridge, 33, set up home at Pulls Ferry, near Norwich Cathedral, where a steady trickle of visitors collected a bucket and took a walk along the riverbank.

As they returned each one sat down with her to tell stories that the walk brought to mind with anecdotes, information and experiences mixed together and recorded digitally.

'What I do is extract experiences and elements of the story each person tells,' she said. 'As people walk around the river the water they collect travels too and when they return that water forms part of the archive.

'Some people focus on the idea of human scale - the thought that the river has been experienced by people for hundreds of years and has changed very little over time. There is a sense of continuity.

'People talk about walking along Bishops Bridge in the footsteps of Robert Kett's rebellion in the 1500s.'

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Ms Muggridge will use the recordings to create an installation artwork in the river itself, writing stories onto umbrellas which will float upturned in the water at Pulls Ferry.

'I use the recordings as my archive,' she said. 'It's a very personal experience discussing people's stories, and it is a very important part of the installation - in a way it's a one-to-one performance.

'Both aspects of the work are important, both the individual stories and the eventual installation.'

Ms Muggridge moved to Norwich a year ago from Nottingham when her partner began lecturing at the Norwich University College of the Arts.

'I love it here,' she said. 'The river was one of the first places that I came to in the city, and it became very important for me because it was a landmark I could take with me - when you are by the river it is impossible to get lost.'

The work Ms Muggridge is currently doing is part of a research year funded by the Arts Council East Escalator project.

The installation will not be fully completed until May 2011, but her initial work will be on show as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival on May 7-9 and May 14-16, 10am to 6pm.

To find out more about the Norfolk and Norwich Festival or to book tickets visit www.nnf10.org.uk or call 01603 766400.

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