Artist to artist: Deller’s film tribute to art icon Bruce Lacey previews at Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival goers will be able to enjoy a University of Sussex-sponsored sneak preview of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller’s film tribute to Bruce Lacey – ahead of a major London retrospective of the iconic artist’s life and work this summer.

The film - The Bruce Lacey Experiencewill be shown at the Corn Exchange in Church Road, Brighton, on Monday 14 May at 8pm, followed by a talk involving the maker and Sussex alumnus Jeremy Deller, and his former Sussex tutor, Professor David Allan Mellor.

The Bruce Lacey Experience reflects on the life, art and passions of Lacey – inspiration of the 1960s avant garde set and of contemporary art – and is the result of a three-year collaboration between Jeremy Deller and the music video director and documentary maker Nick Abrahams.

The film – enabled by the University of Sussex, which is also sponsoring the Festival preview – forms part of a series of London events involving Jeremy Deller and celebrating Lacey’s vibrant legacy.

The official premiere for the film will be at the British Film Institute Southbank in London on 5 July, launching a BFI season of films made by and featuring Bruce Lacey and the issue of a DVD of Lacey’s film work.

Partnering the film is an exhibition at Camden Arts Centre (The Bruce Lacey Experience,16 July – 16 September) of Lacey works co-curated by Jeremy Deller and Professor Mellor.

Jeremy Deller says: “Bruce’s life is almost too big to be contained by a film – it is as unbelievable as it is varied. Bruce is the real deal.”

Now in his eighties, Lacey’s influence spans six decades and his work encompasses performance, sculpture, painting and mechanical ingenuity.

Described variously as an eccentric ‘maker and doer’, visionary and counter-culture icon, Lacey is best known for his work with Spike Milligan and The Goons, The Beatles (he played George Harrison’s flute-playing gardener in the group’s film Help! ), film-makers Dick Lester and Bob Godfrey, the performance artist Jill Bruce and folk-rock legends Fairport Convention.

Lacey was the subject of a Ken Russell film in 1962, which featured Lacey’s nightclub act involving a knife-throwing robot. He also performed with surrealist musicians The Alberts and made the ingenious mechanised flea circuses used by Goon Michael Bentine in his 1960s television series It’s A Square World.

Now living in Norfolk, still performing and surrounded by his sublime, bizarre creations, Lacey is a living link between the absurdist art of the postwar counter culture scene and the New Ageism and multimedia creativity of later years.

Professor Mellor says: “Jeremy’s film is in the great tradition of Ken Russell – an arts documentary film-maker taking as his subject a contemporary artist. Jeremy’s film is therefore more than just documentary. It’s an homage to Bruce and a work of art in itself by a new artist, giving a compelling example of what arts practice should be.”


Notes for Editors

Tickets for The Bruce Lacey Experience cost £10 and can be booked via the Brighton Festival web site or by calling 01273 709709.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Friday, 27 April 2012