Friday, 23 March 2012

Utopia in a Norwich car park


WHEN Rory Macbeth started this artwork in 2006, the bricks and mortar which formed his canvas were due to demolished the following year. But six years later the old Eastern Electricity building is still standing. And so if you do find yourself wanting to read the entire text of Thomas More’s 16th century work Utopia without resorting to the library, just wander down to the car park off Westwick Street. At the time of the contemporary art exhibition, Macbeth said he’d done it because the work was “as valid now as it was when it was written”. An online article written at the time by Sarah Morley continued:

“Utopia is 100 pages long, so Rory worked out precisely where each line must be positioned for the entire 40,000 words to fit on the wall.

J bridge 041

“I like expressing the text through graffiti,” he explained, “as most graffiti is utopian – the world would be perfect if this or that were different.”

The building, visible from across the river, is due to be demolished in about a year’s time, so there won’t be any need to wash the graffiti off if anyone objects to Rory’s style of art. On the contrary, he has had lots of positive support: “We’ve made lots of friends, everybody wants to know what we’re doing.”

How much longer can it survive I wonder?


  1. My daughter had an extreme reading photo easter holiday project for school so we went there with a copy of Utopia and took pictures of her reading it in front of the building. You cant get much more extreme than that. Thanks Rory... I don't remember "warning maximum height 3950" from the original though.

  2. Astonishing that there is no indication that this is an art work - we stumbled across it from the other side of the river and came round to the car park to try to make sense of it. Fantastic piece of art - but strangely neglected by the city?