‘My mum painted that dragon’
A true story by Malca Schotten specially for a visit to
Year three at Mulbarton Primary School
Hello, my name is Malca, I am an artist and mother of three grown-up children. This is the story of how I got to paint a giant red dragon on a giant wall above a shop in Norwich.
A very very very long time ago before I was even born, the image of a dragon came from stories told by travellers about fabulous beasts or even fossils. In one case dragons were pictured as giant worms. Dragons meant bad things like the devil, and made people think about disease, sickness and everything horrible and scary.
We can see lots of Dragons in history about Norwich. In festivals of old, Snap the dragon was worn as a costume in street parades. The last dragon festival in Norwich was only 10 years ago.
One of the things I love about making pictures, especially GIANT pictures and, in places where people don’t expect to see them, is that they make people smile or even say ‘wow’! I also love that my giant son Joseph and his quite giant brother and their not quite so giant sister can say to their friends, ‘my mum painted that dragon’.
Snap was not the first GIANT dragon I painted in Norwich. First there was George and his Dragon.
Many years ago when my children were teenagers ( a little bit older than you lot), I heard news of a new book shop in Norwich called The Book Hive. They had fantastic books for grown ups, and for children, and it most certainly seemed to me to be the best book shop in the whole world.
However, there was one little problem, the shop window was really boring and rather scruffy too. It was difficult to see from the outside, how magical this book shop really was.
Luckily, it was nearly time for the Norwich dragon festival ( in fact the last dragon festival EVER); I had an idea. I went to visit the bookshop and talked to Henry who was the owner and said to him ’how would you like me to paint you a giant picture of George and the Dragon for your window, to brighten it up and to be part of the Dragon festival’. Henry replied’ Yes, I would really like that, thank you’.
Another lucky thing was that I just so happened to be living in quite a giant house with a room big enough for me to take out all the furniture and paint this giant dragon, that was almost as high as the ceiling.
A few years passed, and my children grew up and left home. One day I heard some news that the business people in Norwich wanted to brighten up the city, because like the book shop window, it was a bit boring and a bit scruffy.They wanted to turn Norwich into a City of Stories with giant murals on the walls to show the people what a special place Norwich really is.. So they made a plan to have a competition to find artists to design some these murals.
Yet again, as luck would have it, I am an artist that loves to do giant pictures in surprising places, and who also happens to rather like dragons. I remembered taking my children to the Castle Museum and seeing the very Snap the dragon costume from the dragon festivals of old in Norwich.
I entered the competition with a small painting of Snap the Dragon to show them my idea for the mural…and luckily for me I became one of the three winners of the competition.
“I entered the competition with a small painting of Snap the Dragon to show them my idea for the mural…and luckily for me I became one of the three winners of the competition.”
– Malca Schotten
I was happy and excited, I thought I would just climb up the wall with some paint brushes and big tubs of green, yellow, black, red and white paint. But the people in charge said ‘OH no you can’t do that!’ They told me there would be lots of scaffolding, like a large climbing frame, with three floors and ladders to climb on, and that I was not allowed to paint my dragon because I was not a real mural painter, it was very complicated and I might fall off the scaffolding…
Well, I was a bit fed up about it and asked if I could join in the painting with the real mural painter, so I could learn how to paint a mural on a wall….. which I did. Before it was finished, I went to see the mural, I climbed up all the ladders up and down up and down with lots of green, red, yellow, and black paint, and I spent the whole day until it was almost dark, painting Snap the Dragon, so he was just how I wanted him to be.
And thats the story of how I got to paint a giant red dragon on a wall in Norwich.
And he is still there today watching and smiling at the passers by. I think my Snap the Dragon is a friendly chap really.