The Norwich Dandies are an award-winning community-driven arts collective based in the East of England.
It is directed by local professional artists Eloise O’Hare, Christina Violet Sabberton and Dugald Ferguson. Between us our solo arts practices span painting, print, drawing, performance, theatre, writing, film, textiles and set design. We love combining our powers for Norwich Dandy projects that have involved painting large murals, delivering festivals, touring workshops, presenting exhibitions and film making.
Our projects are community driven and intended to be enjoyed by everyone however we mostly make our group work with people from hard to reach LGBTQIA+, feminist, mental health and disabled communities.
The Norwich Dandies formed from our association with Norwich Pride. We had each been creating our own work and exhibitions for the annual celebration and in 2010 Vince Laws suggested we join forces, create a collective and christened us ‘The Norwich Dandies’. Our first exhibition at St Margarets Church of Art in Norwich was opened by the Tate special projects Curator Marcus Dickey Horley.
We each contributed a mix of work covering all our struggles in society. Vince Laws opened the two week exhibition / happening speaking out through his art works about his own journey with HIV and lining the church with poetry written on his medication boxes and performing visceral poetry in his mental health bike crash helmet.
Dugald Ferguson painted a range of mixed media works using found images of sportsmen re-appropriated as flower arrangements and made a sculptural duvet cover and hand printed bedroom installation from where he performed a series of stories each created from redacting famous homophobic political speeches until they were forced to read as equality friendly, contemporary fairy tales.
Christina Violet Sabberton created confronting feminist photography ruthlessly satirising the unrealistic beauty expectations on women’s bodies as well as making prints from her own body.
Eloise O’Hare showed playful yet scathing political cartoons drawing on the personal and the political, the gender binary and an autobiographical satire of the sexism she encounters as well as giant political artist dolls and interactive sculptures.
Ole Skauge exhibited vibrant, geometrical oil paintings of landscapes with multiple vanishing points the rural idyllic rural settings contrasting with the sharp precision of his shapes and forms.
Ann Nicholls showed her impressive and striking photography archive documenting numerous activist marches, sit-ins and protests she had worked with and supported over the years. The Dandies also supported and presented work by invited local, national and international outsider artists.
We evolved as a collective over the years as different arts events, workshops, exhibitions and festivals were delivered. Now co-directed by Eloise, Christina and Dugald since 2017 we form the core Dandy team and have started working on projects that integrate our artistic skills into creating single artworks together, our styles and talents balancing each other within stand alone artworks.
We currently have a particular focus on collectively made murals and are branching out into film. Along with funny short films documenting our mural processes. We were delighted to present our first ‘Dandy Doc’, a 35 minute documentary about various local initiatives re-wilding urban areas to encourage bee’s and other pollinator populations around Norfolk. This was premiered by PUNQ in Townsville, North Queensland, August 2021 as part of the Golden Bee Hive Alive 2021 festival.
We also support Norwich Rising, which is part of the One Billion Rising feminist movement creating a flash mob dance event every Valentines Day to protest violence against women and girls around the world as well as providing creative rest areas and workshops for Norwich Pride.
If you are interested in the Dandies making a mural or film for your community group, charity, business or organisation, please get in touch for a chat about your project via our contact page or email us at mail [at] norwichdandies.co.uk.
Norfolk is Eloise's open air studio. She's an award-winning Paint Out Norfolk plein air artist living in Norwich. She travels around on her bicycle with a bike trailer to paint Norfolk landscapes, using an old-school dip ink pen and watercolours. Her paintings are full of life, colourful and vibrant. You can find her art in The Gallery Norfolk in Cromer.
Eloise is also a volunteer at the NNUH hospital, where she helps organise art exhibitions and events. She is also one of the organisers of Norwich Pride and Norwich Rising (an annual arts and dance event that demands an end to violence against women).
In 2020 Eloise won a bid to do the arts and interior arts design for a new MacMillan clinic in Cromer. The design features estuaries with long grasses, reeds and wild plant local to the area. When the Covid-19 lockdown started in 2020 she also set up Eloise's Isolation Art School on Facebook, which aims to use art to help people through lockdown. Eloise feels passionate about using arts to help people who are struggling. At the same time art is an escape for Eloise. She suffers from clasteacoma of the ear, endometriosis, dyslexia and mental health issues, and art is great way to cope.
In a previous life Eloise worked as an artist for Sydney City Council; puppeteer and puppet restorer at the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Dublin; puppet maker at RTE; cartoonist for Vrij Nederland (a popular political and cultural magazine in the Netherlands); co-festival organiser (in Sydney, Indonesia, Queensland and Bradford) and vegan and vegetarian chef.
Dugald is a visual artist (with a focus on paint), actor and film / theatre maker. He studied Devised Theatre at Dartington College of Arts (2005) and has been a professional painter since 2000 working on private and public commissions & group / solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.
His painting practice has a focus on the active male body to make works of abstract figuration exploring themes of masculinity, sex, violence, play and affection. He uses found imagery of sportsmen in action in his work, sometimes using their silhouette’s to create flowers, Grecian inspired ‘friezes’ or amorphous abstracts. In painting he uses bold mark making, patterning and colour to give a sense of movement and life to the work. He is also currently interested in morality paintings, mannerism and the present day, satirical possibilities they suggest.
Over the past few years he has developed a love and focus on the possibilities of film. He is particularly inspired by old school / analogue techniques for visual effects (ie: matte painting, use of hand made models, deceptive angles as well as subtle methods of acting for camera). As a visual medium he works to explore ways to fuse his painting and performance practices closer together rather than as two distinct creative areas.
He loves the idea of presenting a series of paintings with a strong moral message that has no morals with a film incorporating the work on display and expanding on the themes of the show. Presented perhaps a bit like a deconstructed film set or interactive immersive archive. For examples of his work please visit dugaldferguson.com.
He is a co-founder of Immersive Theatre Company Living Structures and local art collective The Norwich Dandies. He devised, produced and performed a mixed-media solo show Torrents of Rapture toured to multiple venues in the UK, Spain and Germany.
Christina is a Norwich-based artist who works in a multi-disiplinary way. She studied at the Norwich School of Art and Design and Sunderland University. She's inspired by the world around her, observing and questioning herself, her views, what she sees. She's interested in gender and feminism and creating paintings, prints, sculpture and performance.
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