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New Mural Brings Vibrant Homage to Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Showbiz Heritage

The Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (BID) is delighted to announce the completion of a stunning new mural on Newcastle-under-Lyme High Street.

The vibrant artwork, which now adorns the vacant facade of the former Metropolis building, is the creation of acclaimed local artist Ethan Lemon. Known for his large-scale pieces, including recent works for Manchester City Football Club and involvement in a world’s first, one of a kind operation to hand paint Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers.

Lemon’s latest mural celebrates the legacy of renowned illusionists and magicians, Fred Van Buren and his wife Connie Greta. Beginning their illustrious career in the early 1950s, the Van Buren’s captivated audiences worldwide with their spellbinding performances.

Fred Van Buren, born into a family with a rich entertainment legacy, was originally known as Yoxani and later took the stage name Fred Van Buren. He and Greta, combined their talents to become one of the most sought-after acts in the UK and Europe. Known not only for performing but also for their innovative invention and building of new ground breaking illusions, such as the “Vanishing Motorcycle and Rider Surrounded.” In the 1970’s one newspaper said that they were “creating and performing 21st Century Miracles”.

Beginning in circus Fred and Greta went on to perform in theatre, television, films, even working with and developing illusions for world renowned Walt Disney.

Fred Van Buren, who sadly passed away in March 2024, just three years after Greta, was not only a celebrated performer but also a passionate advocate for Newcastle-under-Lyme’s cultural heritage, including back in 1982 raising awareness of local born Philip Astley, the founder of modern circus.

Fred and Greta’s son Andrew Van Buren, has continued the family illusionist tradition taking the shows on to new heights and new audiences worldwide, particularly with his famous plate spinning, which he has featured on hundreds of television shows.

Andrew expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the mural, saying, “This mural is such a surprise and a wonderful tribute to my father and mother’s magical legacy of providing entertainment and enjoyment to countless lives during their career. It’s a beautiful reminder of the vibrant showbiz history that Newcastle-under-Lyme holds and hopefully through this portrait it allows my mum and dad to continue entertaining people even though they have both now passed away.”

Artist Ethan Lemon shared his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “Creating this mural has been really rewarding.  It’s been an honour to find out more about the Van Buren’s and bring Fred and Greta’s legacy to life in the town centre.”

Charl Pearce, BID Manager, commented, “It’s been an honour to work alongside Ethan and delve into the history of the Van Buren’s to deliver this mural on the High Street.  Transforming an old, vacant space, which once thrived as a nightclub and cinema throughout the years into a vibrant piece of art is a fitting tribute to its history in entertainment.

During the installation, it was fantastic to chat with passers by of all ages about the history of Fred and Greta Van Buren and their deep connection to our town. This mural not only injects colour into Newcastle-under-Lyme but also serves as reminder of the people who called it home and their rich history.”

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