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Public art to recognise local figure

As part of our commitment to design and creative innovation, Alumno are planning to commission two special artworks at the entrance of the building in celebration of the City’s history and to bring together two fascinating stories.

William Darby, who in the 19th century went by the stage name Pablo Fanque, was born in Norwich and lived near to the All Saints Green site. A skilled tightrope walker and trapeze artist he cemented his place in history in the 1840’s when he became Britain’s first black circus proprietor, and is commemorated already by a blue plaque installed on the John Lewis building.

The second story involves The Beatles, in particular John Lennon who was inspired by a poster of Fanque and went on to mention the performer in the Beatles song ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’ on the 1967 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The public art project aims to celebrate this with an acrobatic sculpture and poetry telling this fantastic narrative at the entrance of the new Quad building.

The public art proposals include 2 main elements:

– A tall (but minimal) free standing sculptural of a circus acrobat by the main entrance
– A feature ‘poetry’ wall – potentially running from the building atrium out into the public realm
Artists would be selected from a shortlist of 3 invited sculptors who would be funded to make proposals and an exhibition will present the ideas to the public.

A local writer will be engaged to develop the content for the poetry wall which could include graphic design relating to circus and the areas history of travelling circus and the enduring tradition of Heavy Horse parades.

The idea has garnered attention from Dan Grimmer at the Eastern Daily Press, full article can be found here: