World renowned street artist Ben Eine has created his first ever mural in Manchester on the wall of the Refuge in the Principal Hotel, spearheaded by the organisers of Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair and art consultant Leon Martyn.

Working with the team at The Refuge, Ben has chosen ‘Hell Is A City’ to paint on the interior wall.

‘Hell Is a City’ is one of the great British cult classics – a 1960 cop thriller, it starred Stanley Baker and Billie Whitelaw, and was directed by Val ‘Quatermass’ Guest. But what adds to its enduring appeal is that it was largely shot on location in Manchester, thus making for an amazing record of the city as it existed a half-century ago. The Refuge Assurance building (now the Principal Hotel) on the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street was a key location in the film’s climactic chase sequence.

“When we first started our journey at the Refuge, a bit of research uncovered a 60’s Brit Noir film that has the climax scene filmed on the roof of the Refuge Building. From our early days of the Electric Chair we have liked to use slogans that jump out like a slap round the chops, provoke thought and look for levels of meaning.  Hell is a City fits that bill perfectly,” said Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford.

“As a large piece of artwork sitting in the Refuge, it tells part of the story of this iconic building that we have the privilege to work in but also alludes to other realities of big city life often exciting but sometimes darker,”

The internationally recognised artist, and former graffiti writer, started his career over 30 years ago, leaving his own tag all over London before developing his distinct typographic style.  His partnership with the, then emerging, London graffiti artist Banksy at the Pictures On Walls Gallery was hugely influential to the commercial success of both artists.

Eine’s international acclaim was further heightened in 2010 when then UK Prime Minister David Cameron gifted his ‘Twenty First Century City’ canvas to President Obama.  His work is now held in permanent collections of the V&A, London, The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles, San Francisco’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Berlin’s Urban Nation Street Art Museum.

Speaking on the mural and his decision to paint in Manchester, Eine said: “I’ve a significant following in Manchester and the North West and I wanted to do something for them, that they can enjoy on their doorstep.

“All too often, when people think about art in the UK, they think London.  There’s some really great work being produced outside of the capital city and I think it is important to stop and acknowledge that.

“I’ve a lot of respect for what people are doing here in Manchester, to promote the city’s creativity and Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair has played a big role in that.  I’m glad to bring my work to the North West. ”

In further recognition of his following in Manchester, the highly sought after artist will release 100 copies of a new limited edition print in two colourways and three original canvases with Leon Martyn on stand 232 at Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair in October.  This follows last year’s successful release which saw all 100 signed prints sell out over the weekend of the fair.

Over the years Ben has worked with a number of charities including Movember and The Big Issue and working with the third sector remains key to his practice. 10% of sales from the prints and the canvases will again be donated to local charity The Mustard Tree which transforms the lives of people in Greater Manchester who are trapped in poverty and homelessness.

Manchester Art Fair opens with a VIP Preview at 17:00 on Friday 12 October while public days take place on Saturday 13 October from 10:00 to 18:00 and on Sunday 14 October from 10:00 to 17:00.

Weekend tickets are £5 each and VIP preview night tickets are £12. Tickets are available now at


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