Banksy's On the Shrewsbury Arts Trail!
08 Jun 2022

A ‘real life’ Banksy will be on view as part of the upcoming Shrewsbury Arts Trail (July 1 - Aug 31, 2022). Pictured here is 'Gangsta Rat' which is on loan from a private collector for the major Arts Trail exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery this summer.

Building on the success of the first Shrewsbury Arts Trail in 2021, this year’s trail will be ‘super-sized’ with some major installations - to include a dazzling sculpture trail through the town centre by the world-famous artist Andrew Logan. 

Throughout July and August, famous works - including a recently announced Banksy print and a JMW Turner painting of Shrewsbury's English Bridge from the archives of Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery - will be exhibited alongside artwork by local artists, inspired by and responding to these ‘big names’. 

Announced this week is the loan of a Banksy ‘Gangsta Rat’ print by local private collector Stephen Sing. First editioned in 2004, the print features one of the mysterious artist’s most frequently employed and easily recognisable motifs - a black and white rat, wearing a New York Mets baseball cap and carrying a ghetto blaster. It was released in the red colourway with 150 signed prints and 350 unsigned prints (including this one). Mr Sing has also lent the Shrewsbury Arts Trail a Harland Miller screenprint ‘Who Cares Wins’. 

Also on display at a major exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery from July 9 will be work by: David Hockney, Andrew Logan, Antony Gormley, Ian Rayer-Smith, Damian Hirst, L.S. Lowry, David Shrigley, Hallima Cassell MBE, George Morton-Clark, Andy Warhol, Endre Roder, Jeff Koons and Mark Payne.

Arts trail organiser Jess Richards of Shrewsbury Arts and Crafts has been working hard – supported by The Soden Collection - to bring major artists’ work to Shrewsbury and to organise the giant Andrew Logan sculpture trail, that will see the artist’s large-scale, mirrored sculptures displayed at Shrewsbury Castle, The Dingle, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and the main atrium in the Darwin Centre.

The JMW Turner watercolour of Shrewsbury

Pictured: The JMW Turner picture from Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery archives showing John Gwynn's English Bridge and the spires of St Mary's and St Alkmund's churches on the skyline beyond. Note the carriage crossing the bridge and the water wheel beneath the arch!

She said: "We're utterly honoured and grateful to have some private collectors lending us work for this exhibition, including an iconic Banksy 'Gangsta Rat' print loaned by local private collector Stephen Sing. I explained what we were doing and cheekily asked if we could borrow it and he say yes! Getting hold of one is nigh on impossible, so this is astounding and amazing for the arts trail!

"We also got to look through the archives at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and found an original JMW Turner early watercolour of Shrewsbury, which will also be on display. It will be an exhibition first to display Banksy and Turner together in Shropshire and maybe beyond!”

The Turner watercolour, which is signed with a monogram, was purchased with a grant from the V&A Collections Fund some years ago and has been on display a number of times over the years, according to museum curator Emma-Kate Lanyon. As ‘a gift to the county’ The Soden Collection is organising the reframing of the piece and it will be unveiled and on display at the Shrewsbury Arts Trail exhibition, curated by Jonathan Soden. 

"This watercolour is typical of Turner’s early period," Kate said. "During the late eighteenth century he was spending the summer travelling to sketch in the summer and, the winter would paint his finished works.  He would regularly visit Wales to draw and a stay at Shrewsbury would have been usual when travelling by coach. His skills as a draughtsman are evident in these sketches, which often include detailed studies of the buildings. This example was probably painted by Turner when he visited Shrewsbury in 1794."

In addition to the exhibition planned at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (July 9 – August 31) there will be further exhibitions at Theatre Severn, curated by Shrewsbury artist Ross and Amy Callaghan of Callaghans Framing and The Parade, curated by Phil Langstaff from VAN, throughout the two months.

Local artists were also asked to submit work for consideration to be exhibited alongside the big names: “Submissions have been coming through brilliantly and we’re really looking forward to starting to decide how to curate what goes where and with who,” added Jess.

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