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Why Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk exhibition in Ipswich is so great

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:00 25 August 2019

Launch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Launch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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As I write, we are halfway through Ed Sheeran's four homecoming gigs in Chantry Park with the 80,000 people who have seen his show so far giving rave reviews.

Launch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLaunch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

To extend the Ed experience further I recommend the Made In Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion. Whether you are an Ed Sheeran fan or not, you will love your visit.

The exhibition is curated by Ed's dad John and documents Ed's life from small boy in Suffolk to global megastar.

The centrepiece is a stunning portrait of Ed, whose twin is in the National Portrait Gallery in London, by artist Colin Davison.

Colin's sketches fill the wall either side and are flanked by a collection of stunning black-and-white photographs by Ed's in-house photographer Mark Surridge. There is Damien Hirst's original artwork for his latest album Divide and posters of concerts across the globe.

Launch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLaunch of the Ed Sheeran, Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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What makes the exhibition special are the unique personal items mapping Ed's life - family video film of him as a young boy, the handwritten lyrics to Castle on the Hill, his music teacher's school report which comments that he is a 'natural performer', his GCSE art project - the sketchbook open at the page when the class came to Ipswich Museum to draw objects - and, beside it, the actual African statue he drew.

The Star and EADT have used their picture archive to create a great digital chronicle of Ed's musical life in Ipswich and Suffolk.

There is, of course, a gift shop well-stocked with items including the exhibition book - designed and produced by Ipswich Borough Council - with words by John Sheeran and crammed with photographs. Proceeds from the sale will go to charity.

The exhibition is open till May and free of charge - thanks to the sponsorship of Aspalls Cider - but tickets must be booked in advance.

Just like the concerts themselves, this exhibition involved a huge amount of behind the scenes effort. We all owe a huge debt of thanks to IBC staff who have pulled out all the stops to enable this exhibition to happen.

The opening of Made In Suffolk made national and international news and will ensure Ipswich continues to see an "Ed dividend" long after this weekend.

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