The heart of Norfolk, Norwich is an increasingly inclusive city and nothing better reflects this than the wide variety of street art it’s home to. Art both created and displayed in a public, otherwise mundane space, has a particular appeal to it in my view- a message that there is always a little extra in the ordinary.
A UNESCO City of Literature, Norwich has many murals to reflect this status. One favourite of mine is on Castle Street- it features various recognisable staples of city architecture (church arches or glass office windows) and warps them to appear as hardback books on a shelf. I find it particularly special that such a treasure can be found in a highly commercial area, and that so many walk past, never having gazed at or even registered the piece was there. Another guilty pleasure I found on a wander around the city, also owed to the literary history of Norwich, is the dragon on Red Lion Street. Its beady eyes watch the bustle of the busy street, waiting with a sense of dormant vibrancy for us to note its presence.
Norwich street art also extends to graffiti, with much being found on the underpass. Though often full of artist’s tags, sometimes you can be lucky enough to find some truly mesmerising artwork. My favourite pieces in this spot, however, have to be the politically motivated ones. From slogans such as “black lives matter” and “all cops are accountable”, to climate activism logos such as Extinction Rebellion.
The impact of protest art, especially in such visible locations, is perhaps the most underrated aspect of the vast Norwich city art scene. Often protest street art often coincides with marches, for example pride, kill the bill or support for Ukraine. Phrases such as “Norfolk welcomes all folk” appear at these events and inspire artists to create something beautiful from often disheartening and actively harmful socio-political issues. On a smaller scale, they also work to confront taboos and even help groups who are often discriminated against feel more at home- seeing a pride rainbow on the way to work makes all the difference for many people.
Next time you’re in Norwich, I encourage you to take a little extra time to appreciate the wonderful range of street art on offer, and what it means to you.