Norwich is definitely not the first place in England you think of when it comes to street art. It’s not the home of any world-famous artists or murals, but if you know where to look you can find some impressive works of art.
Take a few hours and explore the city center. In this post, I will share where to find the best street art in Norwich.
Norwich Street Art Scene
Norwich has the most intact medieval streets in the UK. While there are a few modern buildings, it’s not a trendy place like Shoreditch where you would expect to see street art. In the little more than two years that I have lived in Norwich, the urban art scene has grown.
Many of the murals have a “City of Stories” theme. This is to mark that Norwich was England’s first UNESCO City of Literature. It got this designation because it is home to the first woman (Julian of Norwich) to write a book in English, the University (UEA The University of East Anglia) that pioneered the first Creative Writing MA, and the National Centre for Writing.
Best Places to See Norwich Street Art
There are quite a few places to see street art in the Norwich city center. Sometimes it may not necessarily be in an obvious place, so you need to know where to look. All these murals are located within walking distance from the Norwich Train Station. I have included the artists’ names when I could find them.
Just across the street from the train station above Frankie and Benny’s restaurant is one of Norwich’s newest and largest murals. It is a colorful depiction of some of the landmarks and activities in the area by Matthew Owen and Ian Westbrook. The mural features the train station, Lady Julian Bridge, and other buildings along the Wensum River. It also shows that the area is the home of the Norwich City football (soccer) team and a movie theater.
St. Stephens Street Underpass
The St. Stephens Street roundabout is one of the busiest in the city, so it’s helpful that there is an underpass for pedestrians. There are many smaller murals along the walkway so it might be worth exploring the tunnel even if you don’t need to cross the street.
The subjects of the paintings are all over the place. You will see a variety of styles and painting techniques. Some of my favorites are:
The Pottergate Underpass allows pedestrians and bikers to cross under Grapes Hill. Prior to June 2020, it was filled with random graffiti. Now it is filled with murals supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Originally the artist Knapple had painted one mural for the Black Lives Matter campaign. Unfortunately, after a few days, someone anonymously reported the mural as offensive online. The online report went directly to one of the city’s contractors who painted over the mural.
The Norwich City Council apologized and reiterated that the city does support Black Lives Matter. They commissioned the artist to paint another mural. Before I could even go and see it, there was graffiti painted on it. Now the entire tunnel is filled with murals for Black Lives Matter. I hope it stays that way!
Norwich Market has been in operation on its current site for over 900 years, making it one of the oldest outdoor markets in England. It’s colorful stalls sell all sorts of goodies including some unique foods. Take some time to browse the market and see what is on offer at the different stalls. You will also notice that random stalls throughout the market have been painted. Some of the artwork depicts local scenes.
Golden Ball Street
On the side of the building that houses the office of Pymm & Co Estate Agents, there is a mural done by Poppy Cole showing some of the most recognizable buildings in the Norwich city center like Norwich Castle and Norwich Cathedral and some of the independent shops like Thorns.
Red Lion Street (across from Debenhams)
Dragons in England have been famous since the legend of St. George. There has also been a connection between dragons and the city of Norwich going back to medieval times. One of my favorite buildings is Dragon Hall on King Street, so it is fitting that one of my favorite murals is a dragon.
Malca Shotten painted a colorful dragon named Snap who watches over one of Norwich’s streets. According to the artist, he is friendly and was inspired by costumes worn in street parades at Norwich’s dragon festival (which last took place in 2009). The wording on the scroll actually came from the castle.
Previously, the Norwich Snapdragon was a costume made to reflect the civil power and wealth of the city. It was used during the annual Guild Day procession which was held in conjunction with the installation of a new mayor.
There are actually three old snapdragons that are part of the collection at Norwich Castle. One, known as Snap, is the last complete example of the civic snapdragon. The body is made of basketwork, painted with gold and red scales over a green body and red underside, and it was designed so that the person wearing the dragon would have their legs hidden within a canvas ‘skirt’.
Arcade Street by Castle Meadow
This mural by Joey LaMeche covers both the wall and the ceiling so be sure to look up. It shows the bustling scene at the Market-Place of the Iceni, located at modern-day Caistor St Edmund which is a few miles south of Norwich. The Iceni were the Brittonic tribe in the area during the Iron Age and early Roman era. If you look closely at the mural, you can see Queen Boudica who led an uprising against the conquering forces of the Roman Empire.
Castle Street and Old Post Office Court
In this mural called “The Case for Norwich,” the artist, Derek Jackson, turned some of Norwich’s most iconic buildings into books. First, take a close look and identify the different buildings, then admire from a distance to appreciate the 3D effect.
Pottergate across from St. John the Baptist Church
At the other end of Pottergate from the underpass, there is a mural by Julia Allum that is like a ray of sunshine. A stack of books creates the landscape. The left side of the mural is a scene from the Norfolk Broads and on the right on top of an open book is a scene from Norwich.
Bedford Street and St. Andrew’s Hill
Above the Little Red Roaster, there is a pastel mural of cats and flowers painted by Ella Goodwin. Some people say that cats used to be buried in the walls of buildings to keep the spirits away. These cats seem to have buildings inside them, so not sure what that does. Well, no spirits here, the colors make the cats look happy and ready to play in the flowers. It’s probably best viewed from a bit down the hill on Bedford Street.
Murals in Norwich
While Norwich may not be the best city for street art in the UK, there are still some impressive murals worth checking out. I think it adds a bit of diversity and color to the city. I look forward to discovering more of them.
Which Norwich mural is your favorite?
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