Norwich’s rich architectural and industrial history features in exhibition

PUBLISHED: 10:40 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:40 31 August 2017

Sally Hirst at work in her Muspole Street studio. Photo: Steve Adams

Sally Hirst at work in her Muspole Street studio. Photo: Steve Adams


From mustard making to brewing, the industrial past and iconic buildings of Norwich has inspired a new exhibition by celebrated Norfolk printmaker Sally Hirst.

Fine City 5 by Sally HirstFine City 5 by Sally Hirst

The rich architectural and industrial history of Norwich is celebrated in the latest solo art exhibition from Norfolk printmaker Sally Hirst.

For the past year, Sally has fully immersed herself in the story of Norwich’s buildings and industrial past. They have inspired her to create a series of paintings, prints and collages which highlight the design, structures, signs and materials used in many iconic buildings like The Mustard Factory, Crown Brewery, Bullards Chimney and Sovereign House.

She is showcasing her abstract and multi-textured works on the walls of Norwich Theatre Royal as part of the venue’s ongoing partnership with Targetfollow Arts to highlight creative talent from the area.

Bullards Chimney by Sally HirstBullards Chimney by Sally Hirst

Some of the work is inspired by buildings that are still around now while others are based on old photographs and records.

Each piece in the exhibition also varies in style between the abstract and realistic but all aim to treat their subject sensitively encouraging people to think about the past and present of Norwich’s urban landscape.

Sally said her environment has always played a huge part in the creation of her art. She explains: “My work has always reflected where I live, places I visit and journeys I embark upon. The texture, architecture, signage and structures of each new environment dictate the development of my artwork.

Sovereign House by Sally HirstSovereign House by Sally Hirst

“I describe myself as an experimental artist. For me, it means that I enjoy bending rules, inventing processes and exploring layers of imagery. I am somewhat irreverent and always curious, always learning and always experimenting.”

Sally’s artistic career began in the classroom where she was head of art at the likes of Hethersett High School, Lowestoft Sixth Form College, and the City of Ely Community College in Cambridgeshire.

Since 2010, she has been a freelance tutor at The Art Trading Company in Bungay in Suffolk. Her latest exhibition at Norwich Theatre Royal comes after a host of previous showcases of her work in the area at the likes of Norwich Arts Centre, The Forum and the city’s Perfect Pad Gallery.

Port of Norwich Crown Brewery by Sally HirstPort of Norwich Crown Brewery by Sally Hirst

Her work has also been enjoyed nationally and internationally too at Gainsborough House in Suffolk, the Bankside Gallery in London and The Projects Gallery at Art Basel in Miami.

Much of her work is done on her 19th century Albion press and etching press. “I do prints and mixed media collages,” she said. “I create mixed media panels by building layers of texture and colour, sanding down and rebuilding until chaos is tamed. My prints are either collagraphs made from textured plates or monotypes incorporating layers and collage. I describe myself as an experimental artist. For me it means that I enjoy bending rules, inventing process and exploring layers of imagery.”

One of her past projects was a series of prints inspired by machinery at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

Port of Norwich Moys by Sally HirstPort of Norwich Moys by Sally Hirst

Sarah Cannell, curator for Targetfollow Arts, said the exhibition will allow visitors to look at Norwich in a different way. “Through the layers of information and meaning, transparency and opacity, ambiguity and nuance, these images aim to inform and enrich understanding of our fine city.”

• Sally Hirst: Past, Present, Imperfections is on show at Norwich Theatre Royal until October 2, admission free, 01603 630000,

• More details about Sally’s work at

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