Van Burens mural, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Local artist local artist Ethan Lemon, right, is pictured in front of the mural with Fred and Connie’s son Andrew Van Buren.

Vibrant mural pays tribute to key part of Newcastle-under-Lyme’s showbiz heritage 

1 min read

Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (BID) has announced the completion of an eye-catching new mural on Newcastle-under-Lyme High Street. 

The vibrant artwork celebrates the legacy of renowned illusionists and magicians, Fred Van Buren and his wife Connie Greta, who had close ties to the town. 

The mural which now adorns the vacant facade of the former Metropolis building, is the work of acclaimed local artist Ethan Lemon.  

He is known for his large-scale pieces, including recent works for Manchester City Football Club and involvement in a world-first, one-of-a-kind operation to hand paint Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers

Fred and Connie began their illustrious career in the early 1950s and captivated audiences worldwide with their spellbinding performances. 

The pair 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 invention and building of new groundbreaking 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 they went on to perform in theatre, television, films, even working with and developing illusions for world renowned Walt Disney. 

Fred Van Buren, who passed away in March 2024, just three years after Connie, was not only a celebrated performer but also a passionate advocate for Newcastle-under-Lyme’s cultural heritage. 

This included back in 1982 raising awareness of local born Philip Astley, the founder of modern circus. 

Their 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 said: “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.” 

Charl Pearce, BID Manager, said: “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.” 

Nigel Pye

Experienced journalist with a 30-year career in the newspaper and PR industry and a proven record for breaking stories for the national and international press. Nigel is the Editor of Daily Focus and Head of Creative at i-creation. Other work includes scriptwriting, magazine and video production, crisis communications and TV and radio broadcasts.

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