Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Too cool for its own good? or just catching up?

I'm talking about Norfolk. There's been a suggestion that cool and interesting things are moving out of London because the people who do them can't afford to be there. That maybe so but I don't actually believe it. There's always an edge.  But what about Norfolk? We are the ultimate edge and it is starting to feel like it is all being smoothed out and interesting quirkiness is being pushed out by the money.

It must be the time of year - it is the time when all the money comes back - but I can't help noticing that the relentless drive to be cool and fashionable is going into customary overdrive. The difficulty is that the local economy needs it.

So what prompts this bout of unease? Away from the gallery, some of my time is spent on matters Overy, or to be more precise the Harbour. Like lots of places it really suffered back in December with the surge but of course there were only locals around then. With the return of money, the residual flaws revealed in December are a cause for concern; when is this all going to be tidied, mended and manicured?

In some ways this is fair enough. But when you look at old photos - by old we're talking anything more than 25 years ago - you see things that just wouldn't happen now or would give rise to much coughing and spluttering. Too dangerous, too noisy, too smelly or even too scruffy.

The world has of course moved on but Norfolk is still - just - a bubble in the eddy that is East Anglia. You only have to look at St.Ives in Cornwall to realise what can happen when places just get too cool. Not only is it expensive, it is simply too crowded for its own good. It's probably too late now for Norfolk and was inevitable, but it is increasingly difficult to look at how it was without a slight sadness and unease about where it's headed.

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