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New Impressions: Redesigning Norwich’s Renaissance Books


The University of East Anglia (UEA) and partners are hosting ‘New Impressions: Redesigning Norwich’s Renaissance Books’ part of Being Human 2017, the national festival of the humanities. 


‘New Impressions’ is part of UEA’s ‘Unlocking the Archive’ project, led by academics in the School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing, and is designed to celebrate Norwich’s extraordinary, publicly-owned, collection of Renaissance books, held at the Norfolk Heritage Centre in the Forum. 


This year, the Unlocking the Archive team has joined with members of Norwich’s vibrant design and creative business community to develop an innovative, collaborative event which aims to open up this magnificent Renaissance collection to a new audience.


Sixteen Norwich-based designers and design companies have produced exciting new creative publications inspired by Norwich’s Renaissance books, showing the ways in which these centuries-old books still spark new ideas and connections today. Designers have been inspired by a diverse array of books, from John Speed's seventeenth-century map of Norfolk, to the works of Norwich's greatest seventeenth-century writer, Thomas Browne, and the first book ever printed in Norwich -- which was printed in Dutch, for the Strangers Community. 


“Norwich is famous both for its world-class heritage and as a cutting-edge design hub for the contemporary creative economy”, explains UEA's Dr Tom Roebuck, the leader of the 'Unlocking the Archive' project. “This project is a really exciting and inspiring combination of the city's unique strengths.  We believe it will open up heritage and contemporary design work to new audiences.” 


The books and the new designs will be exhibited together for the first time at an informal hands-on event, on Saturday 25 November at the Forum’s Norfolk Heritage Centre between 10.30am and 4.30pm.


Members of the public will have the chance to chat with some of the designers about their creative work, talk to UEA academics about the Renaissance collection, and have a special opportunity to handle these rare and ancient books for themselves. By taking an interactive and inclusive approach, ‘New Impressions’ aims to open up Norwich’s historic collections to the whole community while at the same time celebrating the city’s status as a thriving hub for creative industries.


Following the event, selected design pieces will be chosen for further exhibition in the Forum in the run up to Christmas. The pieces will be chosen by internationally-renowned designer Sean Perkins http://www.northdesign.co.uk, who recently led the rebranding of the Tate Modern and the Southbank Centre.