Talking Statues is a concept designed by Sing London who have successfully brought statues to ‘life’ in cities across both the UK and internationally. Pass a statue and swipe your phone on a nearby plaque and, hey presto, you receive a ‘call’ from the statue!

The statues combine technology with monologues written and voiced by local writers and actors of note, alongside up and coming talent. They seek to celebrate the city, its talent and its heritage.

Talking Statues Norwich launched during Heritage Open Days in September 2018 and closed in September 2019. 

Project Details:

CLIENT: Initiated and developed by Creative Nation

PROJECT: Public Arts, Heritage and Cultural Learning

FIELD: Public Events

Our Approach

Talking Statues provides the perfect platform to tell a city’s story, whilst also signposting participants to all the city has to offer. Talking Statues Norwich was a pan-city project, bringing together a range of cultural, heritage and civic partners to deliver the project.

Enabled through generous development funding from The Forum Trust, the project also attracted funding from Arts Council England, Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge, Norwich Heritage Fund, The National Centre for Writing and The Norwich Freemen’s Charity.

We also received a significant level of in kind support from partners including Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Visit Norwich, The Norfolk Libraries and Museums Service, Norwich City Council, The Churches Conservation Trust and Historic England.

The project included both the outstanding work we commissioned for the trail itself, alongside an extensive cultural education programme which included creative writing, Arts Award, CPD for schools and a range of free activities for all.


The Process

We utilised our networks and experience of managing multi disciplinary teams to;

  • Raise funds and scope out the project’s feasibility.
  • Commission local writers to write the statue’s monologues with our partners at the National Centre for Writing. Our writers included Stephen Fry (also voice), Sarah Perry, George Szirtes, Molly Naylor (also voice), Alexander Gordon Smith, Luke Wright (also voice), Karl Minns and Megan Bradbury. A further two statues were written by our under and over 16 public writing competition winners.
  • Commission actors to voice our statues including Stephen Fry, Olivia Colman, The Nimmo Twins, Zoe Telford, Adam Buxton, Keith Skipper and Helen McDermott. You can hear them below.
  • Ensure the project was ‘all about Norwich’. We employed local talent and local people across the project.  For example, local artist and illustrator Beverley Coraldean to create our beautiful map of the City and illustrations of the statues. We also employed many other local businesses and professionals in our delivery, including printers, photographers, studios and education and culture professionals.
  • Produce a comprehensive Cultural Learning Programme, including a Discover Arts Award Trail for families, young people and schools. Alongside the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and with our partners at Historic England, Norfolk Museums Service and The National Centre for Writing we delivered CPD for teachers. These sessions provided them with curriculum based ideas and tools to enable them to use the trail in their classrooms. 
  • Enable opportunities for people to develop skills through our public writing competitions, which included free creative writing workshops and our Arts Award workshops for children and families. The project website signposted people to places to learn more about each of the statues and their lives in the city, including buildings institutions and special interest groups. 
  • Contribute to other city wide events in an accessible way. We launched and closed the project during Heritage Open Days in the city. We provided accompanied tours including special BSL tours which we commissioned for the project. We were included in the Norfolk and Norwich festival programme and the trail was also used by walking groups, community groups and visitors to the city alongside residents themselves.

The Results

We created work around a diverse range of statues, both in terms of their fabric and locations as well as the statue characters themselves, their lives in the city and their stories.  

Our statues included:

  • Julian of Norwich– Julian is located at the West Door of Norwich Cathedral and was created by artist David Holgate. Her monologue was written by author Sarah Perry and voiced by actress Olivia Colman. Hear Julian here
  • Admiral Lord Nelson– is located in the Close of Norwich Cathedral and his statue was created by artist Thomas Milnes. His monologue was written and voiced by ‘national treasure’ Stephen Fry. Hear Nelson here
  • The Peace Statue– is a Boer War memorial statue located at the busy junction at Agricultural Plain, and was created by George Wade. Her monologue was written and voiced by local scriptwriter and poet Molly Naylor. Hear Peace here
  • Amelia Opie– located atop an ice cream shop on Opie Street and created by artist Z. Leon. Her monologue was written by author Megan Bradbury and voiced by actress Zoe Telford. Hear Amelia here
  • Peter the Wild Boy– is located atop a bollard in an alleyway in The Lanes and was created by artist Oliver Creed. He was written by author Gordon Smith and voiced by broadcaster, writer and journalist Keith Skipper. Hear Peter here
  • Snap the Dragon– is located inside the Museum of Norwich and we do not know who made him. He was the subject of our under-16 writing competition and his monologue was written by local schoolgirl Amelia Platt and voiced by actor Joe Darbyshire. Hear Snap here
  • The City Hall Lions– located at the front of City Hall, created by Alfred Hardiman. The Lions monologues were written by writer Karl Minns and voiced by sketch duo The Nimmo Twins. Hear the Lions here
  • Will Kempe– located in Chapelfield Gardens, Will’s monologue was written and voiced by poet Luke Wright. Hear will here
  • Thomas Browne– located in the Haymarket and created by artist Henry Alfred Pegram, his monologue was written by author George Szirtes and voiced by broadcaster Adam Buxton.  Here Thomas here
  • The Missing Statue– located above the back porch of the Church of St John in Maddermarket, there is a post reformation empty space. This was the subject of our over-16 writing competition and our ‘Any Woman’ who filled this space was written by local actor Tom Carver and voiced by broadcaster Helen McDermott. Hear her here




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