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Vince Laws takes to the streets with the Norwich Dandies for the Wellbeing Festival / 15 October 2010

photo of a young girl holding up a painting in front of a group of young people

Photo of a group of Dandies on the streets of Norwich

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Earlier this year, frustrated with the difficulties of finding gallery space, I rented a whole church and put together a group of artists whose work I like and we called ourselves The Norwich Dandies. Last weekend the Dandies took part in a Wellbeing Festival outside the Forum in Norwich, promoting the five ways to wellbeing, i.e. Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give, as created by the New Economics Foundation.

Eloise brought all the bits and pieces needed to make recycled chandeliers. I took in a box of magazines, scissors and glue to make collage poems. But it was Dugald and Chrissy’s idea that took off, and in the end we all focussed on that and had a fabulous day.

They brought in a wardrobe of costumes and wigs and accessories and invited members of the public to’ Dress as a Dandy!’ Once dressed, the brand new Dandy lay on our open-air chaise lounge and one or more of us stood at the easel and painted them. Before long, members of the public were queuing up, trying on outfits, and also doing the painting.

Next we opened a Gallery inside our Gazebo and filled a wall in no time. “I haven’t painted for 45 years,” said one chap, before producing a colourful likeness of the rock chick before him. “I love it!” said a woman delighted with her portrait, and in no time she was back with a friend who wanted to take part too.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we connected, the public got active, passers-by took notice, all ages learnt, and the artists gave the sitters their work – result.

The Norwich Dandies are available!

Keywords: street festival