Officially called ‘GoGoDragons!‘, this event was organised by the charity Break. In October, the 84 large dragons will be sold at auction to raise money. Break is a UK charity, and they work hard to support young people, particularly those with disabilities, family difficulties, and children in care. Aside form the money raised by the auction, GoGoDragons! has also pulled in money for Break in the form of donations given by dragon hunters. The statues were on display from June until August, and free for anyone to look at with the choice of whether to donate or not. But based on the amount of fun we had dragon hunting, the insane number of people who descended upon the little, middle-of-nowhere city, and the sheer beauty of the dragons themselves, I can’t hesitate to say that Break must have been received a substantial amount.
One dragon in particular had a folkloric connection to Norfolk. Meet Luda, who was stationed in the centre of Norwich’s library.
Around 30 minutes away from Norwich by car, there is a village called Ludham. This is by the broads, where in the days of old winters were harsh and superstition runs thick. It is from these days that the legend of the Ludham Dragon appeared.
A strange, monstrous lizard, covered in scales, with huge wings, was seen in the village of Ludham. It only came out after sunset, so the villagers began to stay inside at night out of fear. The lizard formed a burrow, where it chose to live. Every morning, the villagers blocked up the entrance with rocks. But it was all in vain, for come evening, the lizard tore them away and was free. To the villagers’ horror, one afternoon, the lizard emerged whilst it was still daylight. They watched it move away from the burrow, and then someone dropped a single heavy boulder over the burrow’s mouth. Upon its return, the lizard could not re-enter its home. It screeched and roared in anger, until it finally gave up. The lizard took off, over the fields, to St. Benet’s abbey. Then it passed through the crumbling archway, and dug itself down into the vaults beneath the ruin. And it has not been seen since…
Kieron Williamson, who painted Luda, was inspired by this legend. Not only is his artwork beautiful, it is also a physical representation of a local story.
Over the course of the summer, between my mum, my friends, and I, we managed to locate all 84 dragons. We spent 4 days trailing around the city, and walked so much that we had to spend another 4 days letting our poor legs recover! After awhile, it wasn’t just about finding the dragons. It was about discovering our city, and helping others. We found places we had never even heard of before. We got lost in a place less than half an hour away from our own hometown, and it was fabulous. There were groups of all ages — children, families, teenagers, elderly people — all together for one purpose. We gave and received directions by talking to them, instead of using Google Maps. We used pens and paper to track our progress. We stopped to read sign posts, and bought refreshments at independent cafes instead of chains.
So, if you take nothing else out of this post (apart from OOOOH PRETTY DRAGONS!), then let it be this: Get out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being all ‘oh life is terrible these days because kids are all on their iPads and blah blah blah.’ Technology is useful, and whether we like it or not it’s ingrained into our daily lives now. But there is still joy to be found in doing things for yourself, and learning about the places you live in and visit first-hand.
Over those 4 days, I went on a DSLR rampage and took over 300 photos… oops. Those were not fun to edit! Here are some of my favourites.
Commence dragon spam!
Although they were only around for a short time, the dragons brought colour to Norwich — and also a little bit of magic! Who knows what sort of sculptures Break are planning to do in the years to come, but it seems that they have outdone themselves already. Whatever they choose, I’m sure it will be wonderful. But never quite as wonderful as the year of the dragon.