Batman and The Queen, art and politics collide in Heath Kane’s Art Of Protest debut

Topical, political and convention-challenging artist Heath Kane: Making his Art Of Protest Gallery debut in York

ART Of Protest Gallery’s Christmas Hang is up and glistening in Walmgate, introducing a new name to York’s exhibiting walls.

Born in Australia, Heath Kane has spent much of his life in England; first in London and now in the market town of Saffron Walden, Essex, where he has his studio.

“In the first part of Heath’s career, he was a designer and art director for London advertising agencies, and a strong sense of graphic structure still sits at the heart of his art,” says gallery curator Craig Humble. “He specialises in simple, iconic and memorable pieces that have the ability to tell stories and are linked to a larger narrative.”

Heath Kane’s artwork on display at Art Of Protest Gallery

One of Heath’s breakthrough collections was Rich Enough To Be Batman, the superimposing of Batman’s mask on The Queen’s face, in his response to what he calls “the increasing disparity in wealth that I was seeing”.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the world around me: particularly where life, art and storytelling collide,” says Heath. “After decades of working in advertising and design, it dawned on me that there was more to life than selling people sh*t they don’t need.

“Having worked with clients in the luxury goods market for quite a while, I found it hard to understand how some individuals had more wealth than entire countries. And so I created Rich Enough To Be Batman. I knew then that I wanted any art I made to be topical, political and to challenge the conventions of our lifestyles and the world we live in today.”

“I want people to look at my art and talk about the issues we face, both individually and as a community,” says Heath Kane

Heath has always made art in response to what he sees happening in the world. “Each of my collections explores a different political or social narrative,” he explains. “I want people to look at my art and talk about the issues we face, both individually and as a community.

“When politics seems to be moving backwards (and while right-wing governments continue to be in power), we need to be more active than ever in moving forwards. In creating art, I now have a voice that can help to bring about change. And through buying my art, perhaps you can join in that choir.”

Heath vows to continue to create more art that brings awareness to the societal rifts that politics creates. “I hope to ridicule these divisions while trying to create more tolerance and understanding for each other,” he says. “Let’s work together in making the world better. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone.”

Gallery opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

Nigerian artist Ben Ibebe will be in residence at Art Of Protest Gallery for eight days, climaxing with ‘live paint’ event

Values, by Ben Ibebe, at Art Of Protest Gallery

ART Of Protest Gallery welcomes Nigerian artist Ben Ibebe to York for his solo show Afrofuturism from October 28 to November 6.

This will be complemented by a “live paint” at the Walmgate gallery on the eighth day, inspired by Ben’s first seven days in the city.

“Art Of Protest encourages urban contemporary conversations on environment, consumption, identity and the global audience,” says director Craig Humble.

That misison statement chimes with Ben’s own working practice: “The inspiration for my art comes from people,” he says. “How they respond to social, economic, political and economic forces in their daily living. The issues, ideas and events arising from man’s quest to contain and contend with these forces form the subject of my paintings.”

Ibebe’s exhibition, entitled Afrofurism, will display images of dense urban architecture, vibrant markets, tradition and romance in the context of West African living.

“When Ben takes up residence at the gallery for eight days, his exhibition will feature a series of unique oil paintings with a textural quality that bridges both abstraction and sculpture via the ordered chaos of thick impasto style of painting,” says Craig.

Mansion, by Ben Ibebe

“While he is here, Ben will be setting up a temporary studio at the gallery where he will work as the exhibition takes place and will be available to meet if visitors call aheadon 01904 659008.”

Holding a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Port Harcourt, in Rivers State, Nigeria, Ben has held solo exhibitions internationally with collectors in many countries, including the United States, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Nigeria.

His tactile paintings are highly figurative, bright in colour choice in oils and mixed media, geometric in composition, almost three-dimensional on the surface, with women deliberately accorded prominence in his depiction of everyday Nigerian life.

“The African woman is strong, beautiful and flowery,” Ben says. “They live in a male-dominated society, based on local cultural tradition with few rights, and are at the receiving end of man’s activities and yet strive so hard to eke out and sustain a living.

“So, I celebrate them by weaving my composition around them most times in their hours of needs, joy, pain and other human activities. Recently, my fixation is on the effect of Western attitudes, globalisation, human trafficking and technology on the African woman.”

To The Market, by Ben Ibebe

Ben adds: “Men come into in my compositions, but they come in mostly as allegories in my political statements and are highly stylized. Other times, they are presented as engaged in male activities: drummers, horse riders, cattle herders, etcetera.” 

As for his style, “The finished paintings often come off in the style of impressionism, other times idealism, abstract formalism dovetailing into semi abstraction and full abstraction,” he says.

Looking forward to his arrival in York this week, Craig says; “We’re excited to welcome Ben to the gallery, especially with it being our first exhibition with the artist in residence.

“We would encourage anyone to come down to the gallery to meet Ben and experience his artwork in person. The striking images of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage colliding with a globalised art world is breaking new ground in process and colour management.

“At Art Of Protest, we want to showcase local, national and international artists to the people and visitors of York.”

Ben’s work already on show in the gallery can be viewed at

York stags and hens, racecourse revellers and gargoyles, all through the eye of Dan Cimmermann at Art Of Protest Gallery

Trout, by Dan Cimmermann, from his new Oy! Oy! collection at the Art Of Protest Gallery, York

POCKLINGTON School art master Dan Cimmermann will be painting live from 11am until darkness at tomorrow’s Art Of Protest Gallery launch of his Oy! Oy! solo show in York.

“Join us for a glass of festive fizz and check out this collection of originals based on the streets of York,” says gallery founder and owner Craig Humble, extending an invitation to a timely exhibition that merges York’s past and present.

Put bluntly, “St William’s Window versus Stags, Hens and Racecourse Revellers”. “This exhibition uses art’s first role – to make us look – as a means to encourage our thoughts about what’s important for the living vibrant reality of York today,” he contends.

“We can respect the layers of history that make our city so attractive, while embracing those who use our city for celebrating birthdays, hen dos and globally important sporting events.” 

Woo! Woo!, by Dan Cimmermann, newly on show at the Art Of Protest Gallery

Craig, who has re-located his ever-provocative gallery to No. 11, Walmgate, this autumn, continues: “Dan’s show is another example of the Art Of Protest showing the contemporary side of this ancient city. Dan is a Yorkshire artist whose work is predominantly shown in London and Tokyo, so, as an art master at the 16th century Pocklington School, it’s nice to be able to show his work a little nearer home.”

Dan’s Oy! Oy! collection has emerged from his countless visits to York. Living nearby, he enjoys the city’s shops and restaurants, making cultural visits and a day at the races. As a keen photographer as well as a painter, he often takes snaps of scenes and events that catch his eye.

Over the years, he has come to ask himself, “What is it about a city with such a heritage that attracts such gatherings of hedonism and partying?”.

“When I was looking through my photos and sketches, I was struck with the contrast between the stoic architecture, layers of history and the revellers that drive the city’s economy today,” Dan says. 

Dan Cimmermann’s studio with his works Woo! Woo! and Museum Gardens

“Whether they be the stags and hens meeting centrally from across the country, or the landed gentry celebrating a coup at the races, York is filled every weekend with drunken forms and faces finding their way around the streets and alleys.

“I kept imagining the Minster’s gargoyles looking down and wondering about how their world view had changed over the millennia”.

Reflecting on the exhibition’s timing in the shadow of the pestilent pandemic, Craig says: “To put on this show after York has seen the quietest year in its history, regarding visitor numbers at least, is the sort of juxtaposition that tweaks the interest of an artist and a gallery, now in a new location. 

“Many a local has lamented the city being overrun every weekend, but this staccato year has reminded us all that the city has the restaurants, museums, pubs and cultural investment because of the people attracted to come for whatever reason.”

To mark tomorrow’s exhibition launch, Dan will paint a mural in the backyard of Art Of Protest’s new Walmgate home. Oy! Oy! will then run until January 16 2021.

Dan Cimmermann, pictured when exhibiting at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle


YORK sculptor Lucy Churchill celebrates female sexuality in the #MeToo age in her debut Art Of Protest exhibition in York.

“Lucy’s taboo-breaking, innovative latest work is a far leap from her background in creating bespoke memorials and historical reconstructions,” says gallery curator, owner and founder Craig Humble as he launches her Transforming The Sacred Wound sculptures.

A sculpture from Lucy Churchill’s Transforming The Sacred Wound exhibition

“She started her career in museums at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Crafts Council, London, before taking a more hands-on approach via a diploma from the City & Guilds of London Art School, leading to traditional apprenticeships at fine-craft workshops at Dick Reid’s Workshop in York and Richard Kindersley’s in London.”

As a freelancer, Churchill has created numerous memorials and architectural features that are publicly but anonymously displayed across Britain. Her reconstruction work features on television and in books and her academic research into Tudor history has been published.

Now comes her first exhibition at the Art of Protest Gallery. “Lucy’s new body of work is a complete break with tradition, in style and subject; it addresses women’s sexuality with a frank female gaze,” says Craig.

“The sculptures are startlingly raw,” says Art Of Protest curator Craig Humble of Lucy Churchill’s work

“Created after a life-changing #MeToo experience, the sculptures are startlingly raw. Using a direct carving approach with technical mastery, she eschews a fully described, polished finish, leaving parts of the block uncarved, tool marks still clearly visible.

“Her goal is to imbue rejected shards with a holy reverence and a power that belies their size.”

Lucy has found an appreciative audience for her sculpture and wearable art through
Instagram; images of her work have been showcased by The Vagina Museum, and she has become a spokesperson on recovery from sexual trauma through art on social media and at the University of York.

“The work stresses the importance of finding one’s sexual joy,” says Lucy Churchill

“My work changed when I found my voice on a personal and creative level,” says Lucy. “For the first time, I have told my own story, both verbally and in highly personal sculpture. Though prompted by confronting historical sexual abuse, my work is not angry. Instead, the work stresses the importance of finding one’s sexual joy and the healing empowerment of intimate self-knowledge”

Craig concludes: “At the Art of Protest Gallery, we’re very excited to host Lucy’s first gallery exhibition. We enjoy sharing artwork that can’t be ignored, that inspires conversation and reflection while displaying skill and beauty to have in your home”

Are WeFail’s satirical collages “disgusting”! “Disgraceful”? You decide at Art Of Protest

Clap 2, Boris Johnson, by WeFail, posted on Facebook on April 24 and now on show at Art Of Protest, York

THE art of horror is not only for Halloween, protests York gallery owner Craig Humble as he opens a timely exhibition of shock-horror works by the controversial artist known as WeFail.

Hogarthian cartoon collages by WeFail, alias Martin Hughes, from Manchester, chime with the gallery name as Art Of Protest settles into its new home at 11, Walmgate.

In May, WeFail’s “Blood on their hands for PPE failures” collages of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, each clapping for the NHS, made the pages of the Daily Mail Online.

Art Of Protest owner and curator Craig Humble outside his new gallery premises in Walmgate, York

Why?  After being posted on Facebook, they subsequently appeared on the Havant Labour page with trenchant comments about the Government “completely mismanaging” the Coronavirus crisis.

“Disgusting”, “Disgraceful”, came the Conservative outcry, and Havant Labour subsequently removed the post and apologised fully.

The paintings had been premiered on WeFail’s social media and website , and in response to the reaction to the Labour Facebook post, WeFail posted: “‘Disgraceful art’, what’s really disgraceful is having the highest death rate in Europe, by choice.” “Never apologise for my art”, tweeted WeFail, whose website says he “paints monsters”.

Four Horsemen, by WeFail, at Art Of Protest Gallery

In the window of Art Of Protest is the artist’s statement, WeFail On The Covid-19 Crisis, as he explains: This Is Why I Paint.

Its closing paragraphs read: “At the most crucial time when lives could have been saved, this Government did nothing, in fact on the advice of ghouls like ‘too bad’ Cummings they actively sought to spread the virus and gain the mythical herd immunity.

“Thousands have died needlessly. But it’s pointless debating this, they see what they want to see and when this has passed they will try to rewrite the history books.”

The Art Of Protest Gallery window set up for WeFail’s works of political satire

Welcoming WeFail’s works to Art Of Protest, Craig says: “Political satire has a long history in the UK: WeFail’s work is in the tradition of James Gillray and William Hogarth via its satirical attack on those in power but stylistically is nearer the horrors of Francis Bacon, Otto Dix and Francisco Goya. For this reason, it seems an ideal exhibition for the Halloween weekend.

“Art Of Protest Gallery prides itself on art that makes a viewer look. WeFail soars above this bar. As the first gallery to dare to exhibit original work by WeFail, we’re proud to share this cutting edge of contemporary political satire.”

A digital catalogue is available of WeFail’s hand-finished collages by emailing to provide the opportunity to be “one of the few to own this portentous series of original works”, with the artist making works individually to order.

Clap 2, Matt Hancock, by WeFail from the “Blood on their hands for PPE failure” triptych of works also featuring Boris Johnson and Michael Gove

Art Of Protest has re-located from 16, Little Stonegate after nearly four years, following what Craig calls “a fraught series of unfortunate coincidences and Covid-themed interventions” that led him to declare he was the subject of a “Catch-22 eviction”.

Putting a sense of injustice to one side, the rent he had set aside for staying at Little Stonegate has enabled him to move to Walmgate instead. “There’s a strong relationship with the landlord who owns the building,” says Craig.

“The neighbours have been welcoming and vehicle access to the gallery has made a noticeable difference to the overall experience for collectors.”

A protest marcher with WeFail’s Clap 2 collage of Boris Johnson

WeFail’s exhibition will run until the third week of November, to be followed by a solo show by Dan Cimmermann, opening on the last weekend of November.

“Cimmermann has created a show built on portraiture from the 12th to 16th centuries but melded with the stags and hens that occupy the streets of York today,” says Craig.

“Dan is one of the northern artists whose work is predominantly exhibited in London and Japan but the Art of Protest Gallery likes to champion him a bit nearer his roots in Middlesbrough and where he works in his day job as Art Master of Pocklington School.”