Arts, OldVenue

Toasters on the wall

When Norfolk-based artist Sam Harrons was growing up, he idolised Toasters. In case you were distracted by the inevitable image of a boy watching bread pop out of his beloved kitchen appliance day in and day out: that’s Toasters with a capital T. As in, the team of street artists who’ve been mischievously painting iconic toasters on walls, escalators, lamp posts, and pub toilet doors around the world for over a decade.

When Harrons saw his first graffiti art toaster almost 7 years ago, he decided he needed a brand name for himself and his own street art, similar to the way Toasters managed to forge an identity. Years later, Harrons has gone on to launch the SHhhh collective, symbolised by an empty quote bubble to represent the SHhhh-this-is-a-secret nature of his sometimes illegal street art. Recently, Harrons joined Frazer Bailey in collaboration with Moosey Art on his Get Walls campaign, which seeks to use Norfolk’s walls in creative ways. Bailey and Harrons invited Toasters to Norwich to paint some Norwich City Council-approved toasters on Barrack Street.

“If we could think of any artist to invite to paint on our walls, it would be Toasters,” Harrons said. “I think the world is just a cooler place with toasters on our walls”.Now Baily and Harrons are in search of more walls to snazz up around Norwich, and more artists who’d like to get involved. Walls are everywhere, but they don’t necessarily belong to the public.

While Barron originally entered the illegal world of tags (oh my!) he says he’s learning to accept the legal art scene. “It makes it less of a forbidden, naughty thing”, Barron said. “It’s approved of. It’s like the community is saying, ‘Yeah, we want this.’” Toasters began as a New Years’ resolution between two friends who spent many days and nights in the kitchen debating the past, present, and future of graffiti art. They were tired of the stereotypical graffiti art images of poorly drawn love sticks (if you catch my drift), illegible signatures, and cries for anarchy followed by too many exclamation points. So they took an everyday, inoffensive, household object, and brought it outside to the streets. Hence, the toaster.

Barron wishes there was more street art in Norwich, but says it’s been popping up more and more every day. This past summer, a project called the Wensum Paste Up sent students at Wensum Lodge to the St. Stephens underpass to hang up posters of their artwork in the often overlooked underpass. Since then, many of the posters have been taken down, or spray painted over. Life moves on, even toasters stop working eventually, and when it comes to street art, it’s perishable and impermanent by design. But where there are walls in Norwich, thanks to people like Bailey and Harrons, there will be art.


About Author

hollymcdede When Holly J moved from Oakland, California to Norwich, the headlines changed dramatically from stories like “Cannabis patients forced to hide behind closed doors!” and “Interesting things are happening all the time!” to headlines like “Firefighters rescue cat stuck in tree." Since then, she has attempted to prove that Norfolk can be interesting (really!) through launching her own podcast called the Norfolk Storytelling Project. And, now, through the glorious Venue.

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June 2022
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