Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Machetes, a creepy carousel, and ice cream

May 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is made up of a series of classical music, contemporary music, contemporary performance, and family events.  On May 15, I went to visit and experience the Festival Garden Party that occurred in “Festival Gardens” in Chapelfield Gardens.  Having a rather limited budget, this event was particularly attractive to me due to the large range of free performances that were being put on.

Upon entering the Gardens, it was pretty clear that this was an event geared towards families.  There were stalls selling sugary snacks, brightly colored banners and costumes, and a number of performances.  After wandering around the site, I decided to watch Pete Dobbing, an entertainer with a quick sense of humor.  He began his act by balancing a ladder on his chin, followed by juggling various objects, solving a Rubik Cube in under a minute and a half, and, my personal favorite, climbing a straight ladder backwards with no support and juggling machetes on top of it.  While his act was impressive, it was obviously aimed at families.  (However, any person brave enough to climb a ladder in a kilt certainly gets bonus points from me!

Pete Dobbing juggling machetes on a ladder

Pete Dobbing juggling machetes on a ladder

In addition to Dobbing’s performance, there was an interactive wooden carousel that would have scared me as a small child, a puppet-like show, and free dance lessons.  There was also music playing and people all around were genuinely enjoying one of the first beautiful days of spring.  In fact, when I spoke to several festival staff, they all commented on the glorious weather being one of the main reasons for the hundreds of people in attendance.  On talking to the man in charge of one of the ice cream carts (purely research purposes, I assure you) he mentioned that they had been selling a lot more product than they had anticipated.  The family atmosphere, free performances, and the beautiful weather all helped contribute to the cultural experience that was the Festival Garden Party.

Slightly creepy interactive wooden carousel

Slightly creepy interactive wooden carousel

Festival Garden Party – 3 hours

Total Time – 12 hours

Tags: Kelley

Red Ball and From the Beatles to Bowie

May 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

Starting on 7 May and going until later this evening, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival has taken over the city of Norwich.  With moving art exhibits, temporary installments in the Norwich Castle Museum, and musical and performance events taking place all over, I made it my goal to experience the culture of the Festival.  Being a poor college student, I fully admit that I tended to stick to the cheaper forms of entertainment!  Some of the most interesting that I attended were the search for the Red Ball and From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition in the Castle.

There are no illusions to what the Red Ball is.  It is a 15-foot inflatable red ball that has traveled all over the world and is making its UK debut in style at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.  Every day of the Festival, the ball has been in a different location around the city.  I knew that the Red Ball was supposed to be coming to Norwich through my research on the Festival, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I spotted it in York Alley from the 25 bus on my way back from the train station and, oddly enough, York.  I then made it my goal to find the Red Ball in the city as often as possible.  Alas, it often eluded me.

I was lucky enough to spot the Red Ball in five different locations and spent around three hours wandering around Norwich trying to find it.  Aside from seeing it in York Alley on 9 May, I also located the Red Ball at Pull’s Ferry on the 13th, St. Peter Mancroft on the 18th, Norwich Castle on the 20th, St. Gregory’s Alley on the 21st, and randomly stumbled upon it on UEA’s campus at the Sainsbury Centre on the 19th.  The goal of the organizers of the Festival was the have the Red Ball in places that were both visible and important to the history of the city.

The From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition, formerly at the National Portrait Gallery, was a celebration of British music in the 1960s.  Although the exhibit did not come to Norwich for the sole purpose of the Festival, it was brought in conjunction with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and can be found among the events in the NNF10 catalogue.  Thankfully, entrance to this section of the Norwich Castle Museum was quite cheap at around £2.50.

The exhibition had a logical flow.  It was primarily a series of photographs of popular British artists laid out chronologically with additional information at the beginning of each year of the 1960s.  Being a lover of classic rock, I was particularly pleased with the sections devoted to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull.  The use of photographs made the changing fashion and musical styles of the artists very clear throughout the decade.  For example, the clean-cut, peppy style that was popular at the beginning of the 1960s was very different from the shabbier, darker style that was more prevalent towards the end of the decade.  Over all, the exhibition showed the impact that music had on culture and change throughout the 1960s in the United Kingdom.

Red Ball Time – 3 hours

From the Beatles to Bowie Time – 2 hours

Total Time – 9 hours

Tags: Kelley · Museums