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Youngsters have a brush with the past for new exhibition

PUBLISHED: 10:43 10 July 2018

Andy Caxton making chimney sweeps' brushes in 1972. Photo: Archant Library

Andy Caxton making chimney sweeps' brushes in 1972. Photo: Archant Library

Archant

Brush-making was an important Norfolk industry for centuries; a trade that once provided work for thousands of men and woman making us one of the top manufacturers in the land.

Maz Jackson artwork Brush Maker, part of the Brush with the Past exhibition. Photo: Maz JacksonMaz Jackson artwork Brush Maker, part of the Brush with the Past exhibition. Photo: Maz Jackson

Factories and firms large and small produced an enormous range of brushes in all shapes and sizes that were then sent all over the country and world.

And Diss was one of the places where it cleaned up.

Now the history of this industry has inspired a new exhibition, A Brush With The Past, which has opened at Diss Corn Hall.

Maz Jackson artwork Queen of the Brush Makers, part of the Brush with the Past exhibition. Photo: Maz JacksonMaz Jackson artwork Queen of the Brush Makers, part of the Brush with the Past exhibition. Photo: Maz Jackson

Inspired by their investigations into the brushmaking past of South Norfolk, the exhibition contains vibrant and diverse artworks created by local youngsters in collaboration with artist Maz Jackson, winner of national and international awards, and historian Colin Howey.

The project has involved Diss Media Group, from Diss High School, is one of three groups, including Year 5 pupils from Roydon Primary School and Year 8 pupils from Wymondham College.

Diss Media Group have made a documentary film, including interviews with local people and speculating on the future for industry.

Artist Maz Jackson in her studio. Photo: Norfolk & Norwich Open StudiosArtist Maz Jackson in her studio. Photo: Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios

Roydon Primary School Year 5 have produced a quirky stop-motion animation inspired by recordings in Diss Museum’s collection of memories of people who used to work in the Aldrich Bros. brush factory.

Diss Museum and Wymondham Heritage Museum are displaying items which were made or used in the local brush making factories.

Norfolk egg tempera painter and printmaker Maz Jackson has produced a series of egg tempera paintings incorporating imagery from historic references of factory workers and materials celebrating the former local brush industry.

Her work is in public and private collections and has been shown in museums, galleries and exhibitions in the UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Mexico, China and Japan. She has also represented the UK at Florence, Venice and Palermo Biennale.

An exhibition of her works, Wild Boar and Coconuts, is also running at Diss Corn Hall.

• A Brush With The Past is on display at Diss Corn Hall until September 15. Maz Jackson: Wild Boar and Coconuts also runs until September 15. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm, free entry. Full details at disscornhall.co.uk

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