Mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders attracts complaints – for his trademark ‘V’ sign
A multi-coloured mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders was bound to raise eyebrows when it appeared on a wall in one of Brighton’s busiest streets.
However, it is not the former Prime Minister’s suggestive lingerie which has attracted complaints from locals – but the trademark ‘V’ sign he is making with his right hand.
The owner of the property next to where the mural is painted, in Cannon Place, was shocked when he received a call from the council to say a passersby had found the gesture offensive. They seemingly believed that Churchill was swearing.
Mr Phillips, who runs the Sandpiper guest house, told The Telegraph he was flabbergasted it was not Churchill’s near-naked bottom half which had prompted criticism, but perhaps the most iconic symbol of Britain’s victory in the Second World War.
"I know the sign means ‘victory’ and I searched the web and saw Mr Churchill making it – if it’s displayed on one side it’s not rude, and if it’s the other way around it is rude," he said.
We shall never … suspenders: 'Churchill Rainbow'
Credit: Christopher Pledger for the Telegraph
"The mural was painted a month ago and a week later the council contacted me. I thought the complaints were going to be about the stockings – and people told me politicians do a lot of strange things! But people take pictures in front of it all the time. This is Brighton after all, and it’s better than having graffiti on the wall.
"The council said someone would come over to paint over the hands, which would look really bad. They called me half an hour later and apologised and said it was going to stay."
Brighton and Hove City Council said their staff member who contacted Mr Phillips was "advised that the gesture was in fact historically authentic" – so it was allowed to remain unchanged.
Churchill making the 'V' sign
Credit: Reg Speller /Hulton Archive
The mural, called Churchill Rainbow, was created as part of a series featuring well-known Brightonians and those with links to the city. Churchill went to school in Hove.
Horace, the mural’s artist who has been dubbed ‘Worthing’s answer to Banksy’, said he was contacted by Mr Phillips following the council’s call and was ready to alter it.
"We made a plan to cover up the hands with other small pictures of things like ice cream cones, corona bottles, a smiley face, or other stencils I had lying around that I made for other projects," he said.
He was relieved when he was told the council had changed its mind. However, like Mr Phillips, he couldn’t believe that the stocking and suspenders weren’t the point of contention.
"I was surprised that that ‘V’ sign was the issue, not the stockings – I’m sure some people will be offended by the stockings," he said.
Horace said he decided to paint Churchill’s lower half without trousers because he couldn’t find a suitable full-length picture of him to work with.
Some of his other portraits around the city include former glamour model Katie Price, depicted as Wonder Woman, and rock star Nick Cave.