World-famous artist backs Norwich's city of culture bid

Mary HamiltonA world-renowned artist whose controversial work has hung in galleries around the globe has backed Norwich's bid to be UK City of Culture.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websiteMary Hamilton

A world-renowned artist whose controversial work has hung in galleries around the globe has backed Norwich's bid to be UK City of Culture.

Stella Vine, who shot to fame when her work was collected by Charles Saatchi in 2004, said the city deserved to win because of the creative people here who 'have so much to offer'.

Ms Vine, who grew up in Norwich in the 1970s, has returned to live in the city and said she backed the cultural bid wholeheartedly.

'If we win, we could really celebrate all of the fantastic things about Norwich's history, and all the people here who have so much to offer,' she said.

'I think people from all over the country would really enjoy coming to visit here, and it would be wonderful to be able to expand our culture so that more people could enjoy it.

'Norwich is almost a secret, but it has so much to give to the world.'

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Ms Vine spent her early childhood in Norwich living on Recreation Road with her mother and stepfather, before leaving home at 13 and spending time in the Argyle Street squat and a bedsit in Norwich.

She left the city for London at the age of 17 with her son Jamie, and only recently returned to build her life in the city.

'When I was younger it felt as thought there were two options - either you got out of Norwich or you were stuck here,' she said.

'But now many people in my generation are coming back to live in Norwich.

'They have been and seen what there is elsewhere and realised that Norwich has everything you could possibly wish for and the quality of life here is so much higher than in other places.'

Ms Vine said that although she had been deeply unhappy during parts of her teenage years in Norwich, she still had a strong affection for the city.

'I feel rooted here in a way that I haven't felt for many, many years,' she said. 'Creativity is really everywhere here.

'Everyone knows everyone else - sometimes I feel like I'm in a Woody Allen film with all these wonderful creative people who look out for each other and support each other.'

Some of Ms Vine's work features scenes from her childhood and adolescence in Norwich, including a painting titled '4P' which depicts her classmates from The Avenues middle school.

The piece now hangs in pop star George Michael's house in Dallas.

Other paintings with a Norwich and Norfolk theme include 'Jamie and the Lions at the Norwich Castle museum', which shows Ms Vine's son with one of the stuffed lions on display there.

Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid website