Ellie recently dragged me to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, near Cambridge, to visit a sunflower field nearby. After we’d enjoyed a sea of yellow, we went back into town to look for a place to have lunch at. This is when we saw a random banner spanning over the main pedestrian zone. It advertised Moyse’s Hall’s Moments exhibition. Moreover, it advised that the artists on display included Banksy, Damien Hirst, and Tracy Emin. We normally don’t go to a lot of art exhibitions outside the bigger cities, but this caught our attention.
World-class art at the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds
While we were waiting for our food to arrive we did some googling. There were various enthusiastic reviews of the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds. We learned that Banksy himself is thought to have visited the exhibition just a week earlier, before going on a spraying spree in coastal Norfolk and Suffolk (Suffolk News, 14 August). The museum director had apparently noticed an online booking of a couple in their 50s from Bristol. According to him, the couple ‘looked pretty rockstar.’ ‘Of course you can never be sure,’ he added. ‘We get a fair few visitors here that look like rockstars.’
123 Artworks by 23 artists
We learned that the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds is based almost exclusively on art owned by one gallery: Brandler Galleries. In a few cases the exhibition was able to borrow works from other owners. In total, there are 123 artworks by 23 artists, including 8 original works by Banksy. Furthermore, there is one piece by Tracy Emin, and several works each by other world-famous artists. Besides Damien Hirst, names include Blek Le Rat, Pure Evil, Rachel List, My Dog Sighs, and Kaws. There are also many pieces by The Connor Brothers. Luckily, if you ignore them, your experience won’t be tainted by these amateur postcard manufacturers.
The Banksys at the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds
We’ve been Banksy fans for a very long time and remember the days when we were telling friends about his art and they went ‘Banksy who?’ The more successful and the more minted he became, the more omnipresent and as a result somewhat mainstream his art became, the more difficult it is to love him as much as we did when we saw his brilliant, very angry, very raw Dismaland exhibition. However, Banksy still rocks.
What is art?
On many occasions you see prints that are from a series of 500 or perhaps a tea towel from a series of 1,000. In a few cases you might simply see yourself standing in front of a photo of an original. This avenue was chosen where the originals couldn’t be restored in time for the exhibition or where they had severely deteriorated. In one case it had turned out that the piece was impossible to transport safely. The stencils used on the originals have often been used many times on different surfaces and in different combinations. Sometimes the stencils were even used by artists other than Banksy. So the line between original art and reproduction is not always as clear as it would be with a Rembrandt or Monet.
Highlights at the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds
Highlights include Banksy’s ‘Hula-Hooping Girl’ (2020), which originally appeared on the side of a Nottingham building, ‘Heavy Weaponry’ (2000), and ‘Abe Lincoln’ (2005), which Banksy created to criticise the disastrous government response to Hurricane Katrina.
Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin
Being as daft as we are, Ellie & I never really understood how Damien Hirst or Tracy Emin came to be seen as artists. However, we still enjoy them for a good laugh and the curiosity factor. Kudos to them for their business sense. There’s a very tall ‘Steel Chair’, for example, with a hole in the seat, and a plaque explains that Damien Hirst is supposed to have defecated through the hole during a happening at the Tate Modern. What’s not to like.
Second tier but not second best
The most refreshing bits of the exhibition are not the biggest names, but the slightly less famous names. Artists like Blek Le Rat, Pure Evil, and Kaws are not as famous as Banksy, but have been on most everyone’s radar for a very long time. There were also plenty of works we absolutely loved but hadn’t heard of the artist before. Examples are ‘Bad Hair Day’ by Cyclops, ‘Photographer’ and ‘Jumping Soldier’ by Martin Whatson, ‘G Boy, Unique’ by Hush, or ‘Street Sign’ by Jaune. You’ll also find several works by Sherlock, Ben Eine, Swoon, Lamont White, and Bambi.
Don’t miss the Moments Exhibition Bury St Edmunds!
Don’t miss out on this exhibition. 3.75 out of 5 in our book. Until 30 September 2021. Bury St Edmunds is 1h45m from London by train or by car. Moyse’s Hall website recommends to book in advance. Tickets are £6.
Looking for more artsy-fartsy stuff? Feel welcome to eyeball our posts about the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Frieze London 2021, Chihuly in Kew Gardens, JR Chronicles at Saatchi, Alice, Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A, or the Ryoji Ikeda Exhibition at 180 The Strand. I’ve also blogged about my motocross taster course, the time Ellie & I went canyoning, and our hike around Panshanger Park and Hertford Castle.