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Discover Art in Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is fast becoming known for art – a place to see great art, buy art, and enjoy the experience of creating art.


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Mary Beale - a self portrait. Photo: Tom Soper.

For art lovers, the beautiful market town of Bury St Edmunds is the perfect place to while away the hours.

With so much to see and do, it’s worth spending a couple of days exploring the many works of art found here, the artists who are associated with the town and the many galleries.

Suffolk as a county has an amazing artistic heritage and has inspired famous artists like John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.

But if you look back on the history of Bury St Edmunds, it is also a town that has nurtured great artists.

From Master Hugo, the earliest professional artist documented in England, to renowned Portrait Artist Mary Beale, widely considered to be Britain’s first professional woman painter.

Master Hugo

Bury or Cloisters Cross replica from the Abbey St Edmundsbury Cathedral Rebecca Austin 22 965x540

The Bury Cross. Photo: Rebecca Austin.

Master Hugo's documented career at the Abbey of St Edmund spans from before 1136 to after 1148.

He is most famous for illuminating the first volume of the Bury Bible, made for the Abbey in about 1135, and is now in the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and he has been credited with having made the Bury St Edmund Cross or Cloisters Cross now on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A replica of the cross can be found at St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Treasury.

The Bury Bible may well have led to a general acknowledgement of Master Hugo as "the gifted innovator of the main line of English Romanesque art".

Mary Beale

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Moyse's Hall Museum has one of the largest collections of Mary Beale portraits in the world

Mary Beale was one of the most successful portrait painters of the late 17th century and one of her oil portraits, believed to be of her son Bartholomew Beale, sold at auction recently for a record £100,000!

She was born in 1633 in Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, and the town's Moyse's Hall Museum has one of the largest collections of her portraits in the world.

Her father John Cradock was a rector and an amateur painter, who may have taught Mary how to paint. During her childhood in Suffolk Mary's father was friendly with contemporary British artists such as Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Robert Walker, and Sir Peter Lely.

Growing up in Barrow, Mary lived close to Bury St Edmunds. A group of painters worked in Bury St Edmunds, including Peter Lely and Matthew Snelling, whom Mary may have met in her youth. Peter Lely, who was portrait painter to the court, took an interest in Mary's development as an artist. She started working by painting favours for people she knew in exchange for small gifts or favors.

In 1652, she married Charles Beale, a cloth merchant who was also an amateur painter. Much of the knowledge of how Mary worked comes from the 30 notebooks kept by Charles recording sitters, payments, and other information; which provide a fascinating insight into her world.

Sybil Andrews

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Banner of St Edmund by Sybil Andrews, which can be found in St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Artist Sybil Andrews, internationally acclaimed for the linocuts she created from the late 1920’s to the 1980s, was born in the flat above Andrews and Plumptons Ironmongers shop at 90 Guildhall Street, formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland in Bury St Edmunds, and marked by a blue plaque commemorating her links to the town.

Whilst in Bury St Edmunds she worked alongside notable artist Cyril Power in the Crescent House Studios on Angel Hill and he was to have a major influence on her artistic future.

In 1947 Sybil moved to Canada where she further established her importance as a great artist and her lino cuts are highly collectable.

Perhaps her greatest contribution to her birthplace is The Banner of St Edmund in St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It is silk on handwoven linen depicting the martyrdom of St Edmund. The Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds is named after the artist.

Discover Art Galleries

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The Apex Gallery

The Apex Gallery

The Apex houses an innovative and exciting contemporary art gallery within the striking architecture of their entertainment venue.

The Apex Gallery holds a range of exhibitions throughout the year, featuring works by emerging and established artists, as well as engaging with West Suffolk's various community art groups, offering them an opportunity to display their work in a professional environment.

Chelmer Fine Art

Chelmer Fine Art is the gallery to visit for those who love to appreciate the work of contemporary artists. Here you’ll find work from artists such as Alexander Millar, Caroline Shotton and John Myatt.

Clarendon Fine Art

With over 80 beautiful galleries including 13 on board ocean liners, Clarendon Fine Art offer an exclusive experience in art acquisition, specialising in unique original works and limited edition statement pieces from some of the world’s most dynamic and talented street, pop and contemporary artists.

They have also built a superb collection of rare signed editions from some of the greatest modern masters working during the 20th century, including Lowry, Chagall and Warhol.

Since they opened their flagship gallery in Mayfair in 2010, they have been creating inspirational bespoke experiences for every individual, from first time purchaser to established collector.

The Hunter Gallery

The Hunter Gallery on Angel Hill is the place to visit to see sculptures and paintings lovingly created by local artists.

The gallery exhibits well known local artists from Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex alongside some of the UK's most respected creators of art. We specialise in art for the home in a wide range of styles and media with something to suit all tastes and budgets.

They are proud to stock the work of many leading artists, including Caroline Bailey RSW, Harry Brioche, Colin Carruthers, Alexander Debenham, Mark Eldred, Peter Heard, Sally Martin SEA, Edward Noott RBSA, Alfredo Palmero, Huw Williams and many more.

Visit to see their changing exhibitions.

Art in East Anglia

Art in East Anglia was created to promote and showcase the work of talented East Anglian Artists. The Art in East Anglia directory began as a small Artist community and has grown into an online directory and marketing platform that helps artists promote their work and Art lovers to discover local artistic talent. They now have an Online Marketplace and have opened a dedicated gallery in Langton Place, Bury St Edmunds.

Kim Whittingham

Kim Whittingham is a watercolour artist and illustrator based in Bury St Edmunds, specialising in house portraits and business portraits and can be found in Langton Place. She also paints images of landmarks in Bury St Edmunds and you can buy greetings cards, prints, bone china mugs and tote bags of some of her most popular landmarks at her gallery in Langton Place.

ReallyVeryNice Art Gallery

The ReallyVeryNice Art Gallery in Churchgate Street is a must see for any art lovers exploring Bury St Edmunds. They pride themselves on displaying exquisite yet affordable pieces of art in their gallery and shop.

The Bury Framing Centre

The Bury Framing Centre in St John's Street is an independent bespoke framing business and retail gallery for local artists. They have a rotating program of exhibitions to showcase a range of artists’ work that adds to the vibrancy of the independent businesses found along St John’s Street. They aim to create a hub of original work with a view to make this a destination to see exciting and thought-provoking art.

Handmade Shop and Gallery

If handcrafted, lovingly made art is your thing, then you must visit the Handmade Shop and Gallery in St John's Street during your visit to Bury St Edmunds. This wonderful gallery displays a huge range of original handmade work by a variety of artists. Here you’ll find unique pieces of artwork, including prints, textiles, glass work, paintings and jewellery. This is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or a gift for a loved one.

Roundabout Art

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Among the many unique features of Bury St Edmunds is that almost every major junction into town has extraordinary modern artworks which mark key moments in its history.

You'll find St Edmund himself, St Edmund's wolf, St Edmund's crown, along with sculptures and artwork that celebrate the US Air Force’s arrival at Rougham Airfield in 1943, Bury St Edmunds as an agricultural town and a Bury St Edmunds-born cyclist who won the world’s first road race 150 years ago.

Visit our Roundabout Art Guide to find out more and where to see them!

Explore Free to See Art in Bury St Edmunds

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Photo: Tom Soper

There are many artworks that the public can just turn up to view in Bury St Edmunds.

Some of these are on display outside and others inside attractions that are free entry but many would appreciate a donation to help out.

Here are just some of these.

The Statue of St Edmund by Dame Elisabeth Frink

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Photo: Rebecca Austin

Lovingly sculptured by Suffolk-born Dame Elisabeth Frink (Edmund even has her nose!) stands young Edmund, a mere boy when he took the throne of East Anglia in 855.

The statue can be found in the Great Churchyard beside St Edmundsbury Cathedral along with a wolf on guard.

The Legend of St Edmund Book by Den Humphrey

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A wonderful oak book by artist Den Humphrey inscribed with the legend of St Edmund and the wolf can be found in the Abbey Gardens by the café.

St Edmund's Wolf

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St Edmund's Wolf by Luke Chapman

Norfolk based artist Luke Chapman carved this stunning wood sculpture of St Edmund's Wolf in the Abbey Gardens from a 170-year old Douglas fir from Sheringham Park.

It took Luke over 30 hours to create using chainsaws and other traditional wood carving tools.

Luke was originally inspired by the work of early sculptors Grinling Gibbons and Jack Grimble of Cromer.

Banner of St Edmund by Sybil Andrews

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Banner of St Edmund by acclaimed artist Sybil Andrews who was born in Bury St Edmunds and later moved to Canada.

It is hand embroidered in silks on linen and first conceived, designed and begun in 1930. The tapestry can be found in the St Edmund Chapel of St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

The Martyrdom of St. Edmund by Brian Whelan

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This beautiful painting by acclaimed Irish painter Brian Whelan hangs in the Lady Chapel of the St Edmundsbury Cathedral in St Edmund’s Chapel.

Saint Edmund statue by Lenny Goff

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Photo: Sue Warren

This beautiful statue of Saint Edmund is made of limewood and can be found inside St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

The statue, depicting a fresh-faced St Edmund bound by ropes and resigned to his impending death, was made by sculptor Lenny Goff (who also created the Madonna and Child in the Lady Chapel and the bookcases in the Cathedral's Ancient Library). He was a friend of former (and now late) Dean James Atwell.

The statue was given to the Cathedral in 2007. Lenny drew inspiration from one of his teenage grandsons for St Edmund's features.

Godspeed by Jonathan Clarke

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Photo: Sue Warren

Bury St Edmunds explorer and lawyer Bartholomew Gosnold founded the first permanent English settlement in America, Jamestown, in 1607.

Visitors to Bury St Edmunds can see a permanent reminder of Gosnold’s adventures in the garden of Pilgrim's Kitchen, St Edmundsbury Cathedral's cafe. A beautifully modern piece of art which depicts Gosnold’s ship, the Godspeed, by artist Jonathan Clarke.

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