I want to help city’s art scene

Former Norwich school boy Aaron Fickling is making waves in the art world with his dramatic bold work. As he prepares for a major exhibition, he tells Rachel Buller about his desire to promote and inspire the local art scene.

Missing the buzz and artistic intensity of the university art scene which inspired and enthralled him as a student, Aaron Fickling is determined to recreate that same vibrancy and sense of community for artists in Norwich.

As he prepares for his new exhibition in Norwich, the Norfolk-born artist with a burgeoning reputation for his bold work is hoping to use his experience as an art student in London to make a positive impact on the local art scene with his new project Artsaft.

Aaron, who was born in Norwich and grew up on the Heartsease Estate, completed a foundation year at the Norwich University College of the Arts before winning a place on the highly competitive four-year degree course at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London.

His work already features in private collections in Austria, Italy and the UK and he has taken part in a number of exhibitions in Europe, but this is his first major exhibition in Norwich and the first one for his organisation Artsaft.

The 25-year-old lived in London for the first and the final years of his course but commuted everyday from Norwich during his second and third year – maintaining that link with his city of birth.

'I think because I lived in Norwich but studied in London I always had that connection here and I always knew that this would be where I would settle. It is a great place to be and I can still go to London for work when I need to. I have always wanted to make a name for myself in the Norfolk art scene but I also want to do create a community for people interested in contemporary art.'

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Since graduating last year he has split his time working as a graphic designer for Bewilderwood and creating his work.

His studio is the garage of his mum and dad's house in Norwich and he admits he would love the chance to do his art full time, but he says: 'I think I am lucky having three days at work and then the rest of the time in the studio, especially speaking to people I graduated with. But even if I had to work five days a week I would still make the time.'

The exhibition 'Post Belief' which runs from November 28 until December 11 is at Horace Blue – a gallery in King Street established by architect Keith Webber in 2007 to show the work of locally, nationally and internationally renowned artists – including a major show by famous Pop artist Colin Self.

It will also feature work by Mark Davey who attended the Slade School with Aaron. The young artist, originally from Bristol, won the prestigious New Sensations art prize organised by the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4. 'We have shown together before but only in a small art fair,' says Aaron. 'This is very much an exhibition with a shared dialogue between the work. I really admire his work and I though we could create this story which could run through it.'

The bold exhibition looks at themes of a post apocalyptic future, where humans are largely extinct and machines are the de-facto, using Aaron's dramatic bright bold modern paintings and Mark's hand-made mechanical sculptures.

'There is obviously this post apocalyptic theme connecting the work but it is not the theme of our work individually, yet it seems to come together really well with this futuristic narrative.

' Mark's works are big structures which he makes himself, I think the idea is to make everyday objects like light bulbs almost have a relationship with one another, taking on an almost human form, which ties in with this theme perfectly.'

He established Artsaft last year to focus on creating space, available for both emerging and established artists to not only contribute to the local art scene through exhibiting, but to also try to shape the local art scene and inspire keen artists.

'I'd really like to see this exhibition as the beginnings of a long-term involvement with, and shaping of, the art scene of Norfolk.

'I hope that it gathers momentum and eventually I want to be able to organise events to which people want to submit their work to be exhibited. I want to create a real local platform for those involved in contemporary art and get people excited about it. I don't think there are enough things for people to do regarding contemporary art in Norwich at the moment but there are lots of talented and interested people out there.'

Post Belief runs from 28 November to 11 December at Unit 7c, ABC Wharf, King Street, Norwich NR1 1QH and will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5.30pm. For more information visit www.aaronfickling.com or www.artsaft.com