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Norwich. A city of mavericks and makers, creators and trail blazers. A big-hearted city beneath even bigger skies, and open air, open minds. In Norwich, everyone has a story to tell. And we’ll be sure to tell it. Every month, we’ll be sitting down with local writers, designers, makers, artists and influencers to discuss life in Norwich. This week we sat down with local jewellery maker, Lennie Beare.
Designer and maker of things, Lennie Beare hand makes simplistic, silver jewellery in her studio in Norwich. After gaining a First Class Honours in Design and Craft (BA Hons) at The University of Brighton, Lennie made her way back to her home town of Norwich, to set up her studio in 2016. Today Lennie’s jewellery is available in shops across the UK as well as from her online shop or at open studio events.
How did you get into your chosen career/profession, and why did you decide to pursue this in Norwich?
I’ve always known I wanted to design things, ever since I was little, designing houses, clothes, furniture, gardens … and working with my hands comes naturally to me having grown up in a creative household with artists as parents. So when I found the Design and Craft BA course in Brighton it made so much sense. The course allows you to experiment with lots of different materials, and that’s where I fell in love with silver. After graduating it made sense to return to Norwich, not only a creative and buzzing city but one that’s rent prices allow you to do more than work to live, and live to work; giving you flexibility and freedom to be creative. When my business grew too large for the spare room, I moved into a studio in the city centre and now share it with Deva who runs Phaedra Clothing, it’s lovely having someone there to bounce ideas off, and chat to on our breaks.
What do you love most about Norwich and why?
First and foremost, it’s friendliness; it’s impossible to walk the streets without seeing a familiar face. And that friendliness is contagious and passes ideas and support and warmth. I also love the history of Norwich, we are so lucky to be surrounded by such a rich history, and I definitely take it for granted sometimes!
Favourite place(s) to eat in Norwich?
I love cooking at home, getting plenty of the ingredients from Norfolk Daily Fresh and the market along with stocking up on staples from re.source and Ethical Ernies. We are incredibly lucky to have two low waste stores in one city so I support them as much as possible. When I fancy eating out I love Dhaba at Fifteen, such delicious Indian street food with lots of veggie options.
Favourite place(s) for a coffee/beverage?
What did you miss most during lockdown? What were the first things you did and places you visited after lockdown was lifted?
I missed the ease and comfort of friends; I had really taken being able to meet up and go for a drink at The Playhouse Bar, or get a bite to eat somewhere in the city for granted! I love going to walks in the countryside, and restricted car use, and not being able to go with members outside of our household was difficult. When lockdown lifted I popped for a drink with friends at The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, it was weird being in a pub, but I left really safe with all the precautions they had put in place.
Any lockdown tips/recommendations for our readers?
I’ve loved having the time to do the things I was too busy to do before lockdown. I knitted my first jumper and read books and articles about Black lives, trying to educate myself in being a better ally. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted lots of things I wasn’t paying attention to, and the time that lockdown gave me meant I could focus on educating myself. I’ve found the podcast series ‘Reveal’ to be fascinating, and now I’m back in the studio I listen to hours and hours of podcasts. We are very lucky to have an allotment just round the corner from our house, so putting energy into that has been wonderful and now we have what feels like endless beans, tomatoes and courgettes!
And finally, what does ‘Norwich’ mean to you, or can you tell us your favourite memory of the city?
Norwich means creativity, friends and family to me. Being a Norwich native I feel so settled here, and super grateful that the people in this city are supportive of independent creative businesses. Favourite memory is tricky! The last open studio event we held was gorgeous and it was a pleasure to open the doors and meet so many wonderful people. If I had known it would be the last for so long I would have savoured it even more! I’m looking forward to a time we feel safe enough to welcome people in for an evening of wine and chats.