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Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk – unique exhibition opens this summer

Published7th June 2019

A unique exhibition on the life of Ed Sheeran will open in Ipswich this summer to coincide with the Suffolk singer-songwriter playing four “coming home” concerts in the town.

The nine-month exhibition is entitled “Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk” and features portraits by renowned artist Colin Davidson, photography by Mark Surridge and personal items portraying the journey from Ed’s school life in Suffolk to international stardom.

Many of these intimate works have never been seen before.

There is also a unique digital display of photos and news headlines following Ed’s career which has been compiled by Archant, publishers of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.

The exhibition, organised by Ipswich Borough Council and curated by Ed’s father, John, opens at Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion on 20th August and runs until spring 2020.

Aspall – the Suffolk cyder and vinegar maker with a nearly three hundred year history – will sponsor the exhibition. Aspall has been making cyder from the same spot in Suffolk since the brand was founded in 1728.

An important aspect of “Made in Suffolk” is a series of educational workshops covering music, art and photography, being run by educational curator Charlotte de Mille with the support of One, the Ipswich sixth-form college.

Ed’s family moved to Framlingham from Yorkshire when he was a young boy and his passion for Suffolk is behind the four concerts, which end his world tour, and the exhibition.

John Sheeran said: “Edward’s homecoming gigs in Ipswich in August 2019 provide a fitting climax to his mammoth world tour. The choice of Ipswich shows just how important his Suffolk roots are to him. Ed has a deep affection for the landscape and its people. This exhibition reflects that – its title is ‘Made in Suffolk’, which he was.”

Deputy Mayor of Ipswich, Jane Riley, said: “I am proud and pleased to welcome Ed Sheeran back to Ipswich for the biggest musical experience the town has ever seen. This unique exhibition will, I am sure, attract an audience not only from Ipswich and Suffolk but across the UK and beyond. It is of huge cultural significance to the town and will leave a lasting legacy.

“Ed’s story is well known but many pictures and sculptures in ‘Made in Suffolk’ are on show for the very first time. Thanks to the curation of Ed’s father, John, this is an intimate portrait of a singer-songwriter who revels in his roots and who is proud of both town and county.

“Ed Sheeran has come such a long way from the days of busking in the town and playing in front of a few dozen people in local pubs. This exhibition is a road map of that journey.

“I want to thank everyone who worked together to make this exhibition happen, especially Aspall, the exhibition sponsors, another famous ‘Made in Suffolk’ brand.”

Henry Chevallier Guild, founding family member and Aspall board advisor said: “It’s an honour to be the exclusive partner to this exhibition. Just like Aspall, Ed is fiercely proud of his Suffolk roots and we are delighted that this exhibition will help shine a light on our beautiful county.

“Aspall is a brand with a long history of doing things differently and taking the road less travelled. Ed could have ended his tour anywhere, but he chose Ipswich, proving a passion for Suffolk and integrity that we as a brand share.

“The exhibition timing is serendipitous too: our new brand identity, which launches this summer, was inspired by our Suffolk heritage and celebrates being a cyder-maker from the East. 

Brad Jones, editor-in-chief of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, said: “We’ve covered Ed’s career since 2008, and followed his extraordinary journey from playing in Suffolk pubs to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world.

“We were even there to capture the moment he signed his six-album deal at The Station pub in Framlingham in 2011 in front of family and friends. So, our fantastic archive of stories and pictures provide a fascinating look back at the early years, and show his deep-rooted connection and affection for Suffolk.

“We’re proud and excited to be involved in this very special exhibition, which will be the perfect complement to his homecoming shows in August.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce: “Suffolk Chamber believes that the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition and Ed’s four concerts in Chantry Park will not only bring a wow factor to our county town; but will put Ipswich and the County of Suffolk on the global map. With over 150,000 people attending the four concerts this is a great opportunity for Suffolk to grasp this opportunity of a big economic and cultural boost and importantly use as a lever to create a lasting legacy. We are delighted to have played a role in bringing together a number of Suffolk businesses to discuss with the organisers how they can best support this exciting programme.”