Spurned Restaurateur Gets Her Revenge Through Art

A bronze sculpture of a crucified formal shirt in Beth Cullen's "Empty Suits" at London's Hoxton Arches. Photo: Beth Cullen.

A British artist who had a hard time securing investments to help open a restaurant with her celebrity chef husband is now eviscerating those who refused to support her—not in the press, but in art. As reported by the Guardian, Beth Cullen‘s latest sculpture series, “Suits,” based on business attire, offers a searing critique of bankers and businessmen.

When Cullen and her husband, Tom Kerridge, opened the celebrated Hand and Flowers restaurant in 2005, attracting investors was a major obstacle. It has since become the first pub to receive two Michelin stars, and has been spun off into two best-selling cookbooks and a soon-to-premiere television show, with a second restaurant on the way.

But when they were getting the business off the ground, Cullen told the Guardian at the time, “the door slammed in our faces many, many times. Accountants laughing at us…it was a battle.” Bankers who promised support would stop returning calls, and the couple almost went under. A public sculpture commission for Cullen on a roundabout helped turn things around, and success soon followed.

“Suits,” which opens October 1 at London’s Hoxton Arches and runs through October 11, features bronze cast suits and formal shirts, including one that hangs from a crucifix and another with a shark fin in the back, an allusion to the predatory nature of bankers. For Cullen, the work is “a little bit of revenge,” and “perhaps a bit of therapy.”

“The banks are a lot more favorable to lending us money now, funnily enough,” she adds.

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