In our first session when asked where the group would visit to experience nature around town, the most popular answer was Great Yarmouth Cemetery. Therefore it made sense to make the Cemetery our walk destination for our second session guided by guest artist Georgie Manly.
EXPLORING & OBSERVING
We headed out from our meeting place in Market Gates Shopping Centre, through the market and towards the Minster. The walk was filled with the sound of alarms, sirens and dogs barking, so reaching the Minster and Cemetery grounds felt especially peaceful. After swapping facts about the history of the building, we explored the space individually with some prompts from Georgie. She suggested we focus on a plant to create a study with words and sketches, from observations, memories and stories or facts we already knew about it we welcomed into the mix.
After some initial sketching, we moved into the Old Cemetery, past a gathering of seagulls and pigeons fighting over bread crumbs and into the windy tree lined space. We then created a second plant study in this wilder location. Many of the group members were drawn in by the gnarled trees, pretty Spring primroses and rambling ivy vines. One of our participants shared a beautiful poem she had written in Portuguese, which she translated to the group in English. She spoke about the connection between humans and plants, and how we share so much in our life cycles, and Georgie suggested that the graveyard environment can often inspire deep reflections on life.
To round off our time at the Cemetery, we had a go at drawing with scissors, cutting shapes from coloured paper inspired by our plants studies, which we then embedded into the landscape. For me, this felt like the most magical part of the day. The group was tentative at first and we spoke about what a strange thing it was to do. However, after a little while, we had soon curated a pop-up exhibition of colourful shapes, and included papier mache recycled vessels one of our group members brought along to show us. The whole arrangement was made even more surreal by the dead rat laying face up under the tree nearby, but it was fun and lively because of its spontaneousness and playful energy in what could’ve been a solemn space if it wasn’t for the Spring plants bursting into life around us.
After carefully removing our paper shapes and making sure the location was left how we found it, we went back for a spot of lunch from the market. We reviewed our morning walk and created a new arrangement using the things we had made, drawn and found in the Cemetery. Georgie is very good at gently encouraging creative engagement and the group soon curated another arrangement, this one even more beautifully odd and eclectic than the last! We took part in large scale still-life drawing with charcoal and coloured ink to finish off our day, with some slow looking, quick 1 minute sketching and added collaged elements of our drawn shapes.
It was brilliant to work with Georgie and see how her influence sparked fresh creativity with the Yarmouth Springs Eternal community group. I think the final charcoal collaged drawings show the free and playful energy she brought out from the group.
Look out for Georgie’s creative prompts and ideas, alongside our other guest artists, in the Yarmouth Springs Eternal creative resource booklet, which will launch at the Summer Solstice. It will be filled with ways to engage with the outdoors and natural world, inspired by the community events this Spring. You can also see all of the artwork produced by the community group in our exhibition at PRIMEYARC, Market Gates Shopping Centre in Great Yarmouth from 19th May to 20th June. You can find out more about the exhibition by visiting the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website.
Out and about
Here are some other places you can find the project:
We were featured on Folk Features
We were also in the Gorleston Community Magazine