Art lovers can now enjoy not one but two exciting new exhibitions in at the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. The Urban Frame: Mutiny In Colour, which is also showing at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, and Haverhill Arts Centre, is now running alongside the world premiere of 7 Banksy Under Siege.
7 Banksy Under Siege is a collection of life-size photos of works created by Banksy in war-torn Ukraine last November, offering a unique perspective on the resilience, hope and human spirit under siege, as well as the nature of war and its impact on ordinary lives in general.
This unique photographic exhibition offers an immersive journey through the powerful series of artworks created in destroyed buildings in and around Kyiv, enabling a better understanding of the human stories that lie at the heart of these murals and their narratives.
John Brandler is the creative force behind the two exhibitions. An art dealer specialising in modern British art, illustrations for children’s publications, and English Old Masters, John opened Brandler Galleries in Brentwood, Essex, in 1982. He told us how these latest exhibitions came about.
“It all started with Covid 19, when I had to close my gallery. I got a call out of the blue from Ian Clarke of West Suffolk Council to ask me if I would show some works by Banksy in the area.
“Ian and I had worked together previously on a very successful show, Moments, which was visited by more than 25,000 people. I had a couple of years to get these works together – I thought ‘Where am I going to get enough to make totally new show.’
“With this exhibition, I’m trying to show the public that enjoying art is about enjoying what you see rather than reading the labels. The idea is to make people say ‘I like that, who’s it by?’, not ‘Who’s that by? I like it’. All the pieces in my collection I own (apart from a couple lent to me) so I only have things I enjoy.
“Banksy didn’t invent street art but he has done for British street art what the Beatles did for British pop music – made it the most desirable in the world. Bury has Sandcastle Girl as a centrepiece because it is closest to Lowestoft, where it was created. I’m pleased to have stopped Sandcastle Girl going to the US. Season’s Greetings was going to New York, and Hula Hooping Girl was going to be erased. I can’t create but I can stop things being destroyed or removed from the country. These works need to be both seen and preserved.
“7 Banksy Under Siege came about because I saw in the newspapers that someone tried to steal one of the works Banksy created in Ukraine. I made enquiries about borrowing a piece for the Newmarket show. But it didn’t happen. Then some American clients suggested having seven life-size prints of the works made.
“Newmarket was the one place where we could put together all 7. We added a QR code so that people can listen to an audio commentary and understand what they’re seeing, and we checked out a bona fide Ukrainian charity that people can donate to. So, everything just fitted together beautifully.
“The photos are very accurate and life size. That’s why some of them have more wall around them than others to keep them life-size. We think only two of the original pieces exist. UNESCO is considering preserving these photos as they are the only record of the originals.
“Of all the pieces in the Mutiny In Colour exhibition, I love Banksy’s Hula Hoop Girl. And Citroen Berlingo Van by My Dog Sighs, with more than 200 eyes on it, is phenomenal. Both are on show in Newmarket. I’m also very proud of Gangsta Rat, which is on show in Bury.
“We are hoping Banksy will turn up and have a look at the three shows – we know he knows about them…”
To find out more and book tickets, click here.