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Appeal launched for Bury St Edmunds site to display a world-famous Banksy piece ‘Heart Boy’




The search is on for a Bury St Edmunds site to display a world-famous Banksy piece for the first time in the UK.

‘Heart Boy’ – which depicts a young boy with a paintbrush after painting a graffiti heart on a wall – was supposed to take pride of place in The Apex foyer as part of the Moyse’s Hall Museum Moments modern art exhibition.

However, Heart Boy’s two-and-a-half tonne weight poses a risk to the underground car park below, while its 2.25-metre height cannot fit through Moyse’s Hall’s 12th century doors.

Heart Boy, by Banksy. Picture courtesy of John Brandler
Heart Boy, by Banksy. Picture courtesy of John Brandler

Now, owner John Brandler – who has supplied and sourced much of the art in the Moments exhibition – is searching for an alternative venue to display the Banksy original.

“It is gutting it can’t go where we hoped,” said John. “I have got this piece and I want to show it, so we were hoping someone might come along and say they have a space for it.”

John suggested an ideal location could be a car showroom or a shop window – as long as there was no basement underneath.

Dan Clarke, West Suffolk Council heritage officer, with some of the 110 artworks in the Moments exhibition. Picture by Mecha Morton
Dan Clarke, West Suffolk Council heritage officer, with some of the 110 artworks in the Moments exhibition. Picture by Mecha Morton

“Somewhere in the town centre would be ideal as it is a major attraction and we want people to see it. It is world famous and if you have got it on your premises it will attract visitors,” said John.

Heart Boy was painted on the side of an Islington building in 2009. After the building was demolished it was displayed in Amsterdam, before being bought by John.

“When I brought it I brought it home. It needed a huge amount of restoration and now we want people to see it, we really want it to be part of the Moments show.

“There must be somewhere in Bury, it’s just finding the right person who can see the potential of having a Banksy piece on the premises,” said John.

Dan Clarke and Lance Alexander with pieces by My Dog Sighs. Picture by Mecha Morton
Dan Clarke and Lance Alexander with pieces by My Dog Sighs. Picture by Mecha Morton

Moments opens at Moyse’s Hall Museum tomorrow, featuring 110 pieces of art by 23 internationally-renowned artists including Banksy, Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, The Connor Brothers, My Dog Sighs, Blek Le Rat, Pure Evil, Rachel List and Kaws.

For heritage officer Dan Clarke and heritage operations manager Lance Alexander, the opening will mark the culmination of months of work behind the scenes.

Working with John Brandler, of Brandler Galleries, the Moyse’s Hall team has not only spent considerable time curating the exhibition, but transforming the gallery space through lighting and decoration to ensure maximum ‘wow factor’.

Lance Alexander and Dan Clarke with a Banksy on the right. Picture by Mecha Morton
Lance Alexander and Dan Clarke with a Banksy on the right. Picture by Mecha Morton

Dan said: “This is, by far, the most expensive exhibition we have ever put on. We didn’t want to come out of lockdown with a whimper, we wanted to come out shouting. This collection is of national significance, so to see it here at Moyse’s Hall is a treat.”

There are five display areas, with each having a different feel.

Lance said: “There are areas we have designed to have an impact on the senses. It’s going to be quite a shock to people who know Moyse’s Hall well as it’s quite a calm place.

“The exhibition builds with the Great Hall area being the star of the show.”

Moments is described as a major coup for Bury and could play a role in helping the town’s economic recovery – following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns – and attract significant cultural tourism from across the UK.

The first pieces for the exhibition started to arrive at the end of last year.

Lance said: “It was then we realised this was going to be something special – the works were so vibrant and upbeat.

“We originally planned to open on February 14, then lockdown three came along and we had to hold off, but the conversations grew behind the scenes.”

Among the highlights will be eight artworks by Banksy, including the ‘Hula-Hooping Girl’ which originally appeared on the side of a building in residential Nottingham. Some artworks and prints will be available for purchase.

Renowned artist Rachel List, who gained prominence during the first lockdown with her painting NHS Angel, has created a new piece of work for inclusion in the exhibition, which will be kept on permanent display at Moyse’s Hall.

Cllr Jo Rayner, cabinet member for leisure, culture and community hubs, said: “The Moments exhibition is a hugely culturally significant event, which will attract significant cultural tourism to the town and provide a welcome and much needed boost for local businesses.”

Moments will be supplemented by workshops, pop-up activities, live art demonstrations and private view evenings when artists will talk about their work.

Other activities will take place at various locations around the town and, where possible, Moments will link with community art groups to offer workshops for all ages and levels of experience.

Together with support from West Suffolk College and University of Suffolk, Moyse’s Hall Museum and Brandler Galleries will be seeking West Suffolk’s next great artist through a competition sponsored by the Friends of Moyse’s Hall and Burnett Barker Solicitors.

An art trail is also being planned to view installations around Bury such as in The Apex, Charter Square and Abbey Gardens.

Businesses can sponsor various artworks and special events. Currently TREATT, the Angel Hotel and Outside Art as well as the Friends of Moyse’s Hall and Burnett Barker Solicitors have offered support.

Moments tickets with reduced prices – £5 for adults and £3.50 concessions and children aged five-16 – can be booked online before the exhibition opens. Prices increase to £6 and £4 from May 23.

Timed viewing slots must be pre-booked online at www.moyseshall.org, in person at The Apex or on 01284 758000.

The exhibition runs until September 30.

  • Could you offer a space for Heart Boy? Call our newsdesk on 01284 757857 or email news@buryfreepress.co.uk

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