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Globes: Delightful, puzzle-like public art takes to the streets of Norwich

PUBLISHED: 12:05 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:05 21 May 2019

Will Teather in the studio Credit: Martin Marsh

Will Teather in the studio Credit: Martin Marsh

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Norwich landmarks are reimagined in local artist Will Teather's panoramic paintings. Stevie Smith takes a look.

Will Teather's painted globes have surprises to draw the eye in, like a more eccentric version of Wheres Wally    Credit: Dot HowardWill Teather's painted globes have surprises to draw the eye in, like a more eccentric version of Wheres Wally Credit: Dot Howard

How often to do you really see, with clear eyes, what's around you? A series of artworks depicting familiar Norwich scenes invites you to see the city in a whole new light.

In Norwich-based artist Will Teather's 'Globes', painted spherical 'orbs' recreate real-life scenes in painstaking detail. The panoramic works, which were commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, depict local landmarks including the regal Art Nouveau surrounds of the Royal Arcade, The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell's artefact-filled pharmacy and the British birds gallery at Norwich Castle. One of Will's favourite city spots, Mr P. Milne's Antiques & Curios, the knickknack and taxidermy-filled shop on Elm Hill, also features.

Each of the four artworks is displayed within the place it depicts, so you can compare Will's scaled-down versions to their real-life counterparts. They're surprisingly absorbing and puzzle-like; each containing delights and surprises to draw the eye in, like a far more eccentric version of Where's Wally.

You can even turn finding the artworks into a fun scavenger trail for kids - just collect a special map from Norwich Castle Museum and make hunting down the globes into your own adventure. With the exception of the Royal Arcade, each location's orbs hangs suspended in mid-air, inviting passing observers to get lost within these fascinating miniature worlds.

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At first these scenes look normal enough, but lean in closer and you'll spot unexpected additions that illicit a double take. Like the artist himself lying flat on the floor, looking a little dazed. "I add the odd in-joke, and give myself cameos for my own amusement," Will says. In his Bird gallery globe, his family can be spotted. He laughs, pointing to his depiction of the artist Dot Howard - who Will is married to - with one eye comically large as she peers through a magnifying glass. "I did actually invite other people to model!" he admits, "but we had to get up very early in the morning, before the museum was open - and everybody else was still in bed."

Will, who is an associate lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts, describes his artworks as a "radical takes on realist paintings." Each globe takes three months to complete, and involves taking hundreds of photographs in preparation. "I often choose maximalist spaces which are completely overloaded, so you can create the most extreme kind of still life with everything in a room." It's exactly what draws the eye in and makes them such an absorbing treat.

"They're a labour of love." Will says, gesturing to the painted 140 miniature glass cabinets from the British bird gallery standing empty, waiting to be filled. "They're really challenging to make anyway, and for some reason I end up choosing a challenging subject!"

The globes have had a great international response, hanging amidst the greenery of Regent's Park, London and travelling across the Atlantic to show in New York. But this commission is particularly special to Will: "This is the first time I've done a major showing of them in Norwich, my hometown, which is nice."

Will Teather's 'Globes' is showing across Norwich city centre as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The works will be on display until September 1 2019. For more information visit: nnfestival.org.uk/whats-on/globes/

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