Designs inspired by 16th century migrant workers come top in arts competition

April 10, 2011 by  

A competition run by Norwich University College of the Arts was recently won by Sue Foster, a local woman who produced cushion designs inspired by textile books that are hundreds of years old. Sue Foster produced the designs after spending three years working closely with Norfolk Archaeology Service and local museums studying the books which were originally produced by Norfolk’s 16th century migrant workers. These workers were referred to as The Strangers. Despite being hundreds of years old, the designs are brightly coloured and look surprisingly modern. Sue Foster is working to prepare her designs to be sold on the high street. As well as selling these designs in high street shops, Sue and other local independent designers could also look into catalogue printing in Norwich. This would enable the designs to reach a wider audience and to capitalise on their commercial potential.

Sue Foster is hoping to use some of the proceeds that she receives from the sales of these designs to put towards preserving the books containing The Strangers’ designs for future generations to enjoy. Local authorities invited The Strangers to come and settle in Norwich as part of a bid to boost the 16th Century textile industry in the region. This worked as the area because Norwich became known as the biggest manufacturer of textiles in England. As the competition win has proved, the designs created by The Strangers are relevant and commercially viable even today, where they have been updated and reinterpreted by Sue Foster, ready to be sold via high street retail or potentially even by mail-order sales thanks to catalogue printing services that are available in Norwich.