Norfolk Makers Festival, 11-19 March 2023

Norfolk Makers Festival will run from 11-19 March 2023. It is a nine-day event, presented by The Forum, which showcases the talents and skills of local people, celebrates Norfolk’s creative heritage, and inspires thousands of visitors to explore new artistic opportunities.

The exhibitions, the crafting demonstrations and the hands-on activities are all free to the public. In addition, there is a programme of ticketed talks and workshops covering a wide range of crafts, from weaving, spinning and crochet, to painting, printing and pottery.

The Dementia Darnings at Norwich Cathedral

The Dementia Darnings were started in 2011 while multimedia Somerset artist Jenni Dutton was a carer for her mother, who was developing dementia. She began exploring ways of engaging with the past, often looking at old photo albums. She would use stitching to ‘draw’ likenesses of family members and her mother would enjoy watching her create these pictures of familiar faces.

Jenni says: “Making my mother the subject and focus of my work while I was looking after her helped me to deal with her decline into dementia. As her situation became more untenable, she went into a nursing home and I continued to record and explore ways of describing her decline via the Darnings. I divided the thickness of yarns I was using, trying to emulate her extreme fragility.”

The Dementia Darnings are made like drawings where crosshatched marks are built up on paper. Jenni uses a simple running stitch using threads of tapestry wool. She works from photographs and sews direct into the netting stretched over canvas. Each of the latest Darnings takes about 4 months to make.

The Norfolk Makers Festival is delighted to bring this exhibition to the East of England for the first time. The Dementia Darnings Exhibition will run from 9th March to 1st April at Norwich Cathedral.

Jayne Evans, Producer of the Norfolk Makers Festival, says:

“We started chatting to Jenni about bringing this incredible work to Norwich several years ago. The pandemic delayed our plans but at last, the Dementia Darnings is here.

“We are delighted that Norwich Cathedral was able to host the exhibition and we hope that Jenni’s work will not only enchant and inspire visitors but also spark conversations about dementia, brain health and later life care.”

Jenni will be giving a lunchtime talk with Q&A on Sunday 12th March from 1pm – 2pm at Norwich Cathedral.

In this lunchtime talk, Jenni will talk about both the emotional journey taken during the creating of these incredible stitched portraits, and her creative methodology.

Although the talk is free to enter, you will need to book in advance. In lieu of a ticket fee, the Norfolk Makers Festival suggest a donation to a local charity, Friend In Deed, which brings generations together to reduce loneliness in later life. Representatives of the charity will be attending the event.