‘Protectors of Norwich’ by Julian Fennell

Speaking with the Artist: Jules Fennell

Who are you and what do you do? 

I’m Jules, I’m 25 years old and I use they/them pronouns. By day I’m a bartender, but by night, I’m a drag king and multimedia artist based in Norwich.

My degree background is actually in scriptwriting but I have always been drawn to visual and performance art – I’d say I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, as I work with film, animation, makeup, performance and in traditional and digital mediums. Most recently, I completed a residency with the Wysing Arts Centre where I made an animated documentary about neuro diversity.

Can you tell us about your piece, and what inspired it?

As a lifelong resident, I was inspired by the parks and buildings of Norwich. I chose to depict Norwich Castle, Chapelfield Gardens and Crown Place on St Stephens Street to represent the past, present and future of the city. Norwich is culturally rich in the sense that you can find medieval buildings jostling up against modern architecture and so I wanted to bring this into my work.

My process was to visit each place and take a walk around, photographing it and making a mental note of the feelings it brought to mind. I created a list of words, emotions and activities for each place and considered what images and symbols I could combine to reflect this into a figure – part human, part architectural and part animal. With these ideas, I created digital animations, which will be projected onto board shapes based on each building, to create a sense of towering fantastical creatures watching over the city and its people. 

What’s your advice for other young artists with interest in cultural and natural heritage? 

Put yourself out there – there are more opportunities out there than you think. People might think they don’t have much to say on their local area as an artist, but just existing in a space means you have the power to reflect and comment on your environment and the history around you. Believe in yourself, believe in your work and believe that your contributions and experiences have value.