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Rainbow mural of Churchill in stockings and suspenders allowed to stay in place

By Megan Baynes, PA
·2-min read

A rainbow mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders which prompted a complaint from the local council because of the former prime minister’s trademark “V” sign is to be allowed to remain in place.

The artwork, which appeared on the wall of Sandpiper Guest House on one of Brighton’s busiest streets, was the subject of a council complaint over Churchill’s hand gesture — his famous “victory” sign, which he used throughout the war.

Mr Phillips, who runs Sandpiper, was originally told by Brighton and Hove City Council that someone would have to paint over the hand signs, before the authority backed down after realising the historical significance.

Churchill mural
Mural of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the ‘V’ sign (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The mural was created by street artist Tom Norris, known as Horace, as part of a series featuring well-known Brightonians and those with links to the city.

Mr Norris told the PA news agency he was “surprised” the cause of concern had been the wartime prime minister’s hands, and not the fact he is wearing lingerie.

He said: “We were told the council would paint over it, so I was prepared to go and pixelate the hands, but I was worried that would not be good enough.

“I was happy to see that they changed their mind.”

Churchill mural
The artist who painted the mural said he was ‘surprised’ the hand gesture had been deemed offensive (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Norris said he had first painted a similar mural in Churchill Square but was arrested for criminal damage, had his original stencil confiscated and the artwork painted over.

He decided to repaint the piece with a new stencil, this time obtaining permission from the local guest house for the use of their wall.

Churchill was painted without trousers because, Horace said, he could not find a suitable full-length picture to work with, and felt the stockings and suspenders matched the atmosphere of the city.

Churchill mural
A man poses for a picture next to the mural (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Phillips said: “It is a nice picture but some people said it was rude because of the v-sign, but that is the victory sign. Once the council were told that, they responded and apologised and said it did not need to be changed.

“I am pleased we have been told not to change it. Many people have been taking pictures with it because Winston Churchill has that connection to Hove.”

A council spokesperson said: “Several weeks ago we had one complaint on the grounds the V-sign was seen to be an offensive gesture.

“The member of staff who asked for it to be removed was advised by the owner that the gesture was in fact historically authentic.

“Once we established this was indeed the case, we got back to the owner to apologise and advised the mural would not need to be changed.”