Last weekend, Dan and I were biking around ‘the Notting Hill of Brighton‘, seeing where our moods – and the wind – would carry us, when we noticed something different about the two London telephone boxes hidden out of town on the edge of Powis Square in Seven Dials.
When I researched these tiny listed buildings for my Secret Brighton guidebook they were dirty, derelict and covered in graffiti, but on the day we biked past, we noticed they’d been newly painted the traditional bright tomato-red colour and were shimmering in the golden-hour sunlight. Obviously, we semi-screeched to a halt to find out more.
It wasn’t hard to work out from the gold sign at the top that Brighton’s smallest listed structures are home to the ‘Dog and Bone Gallery’. Meanwhile, Dan did a quick Google search which revealed they belong to the Little Mustard gift shop around the corner on Clifton Hill. It’s worth noting that that both phone boxes are kept locked, so if you’re passing, you have to peer in at the exhibitions from outside. If you’re interested in buying anything, nip to the Little Mustard shop and they’ll be able to help.
‘I used to walk past the boxes all the time from my studio to the Little Mustard Shop,’ says Little Mustard owner, artist Sam Toft. ‘They looked very sad, especially since they were sitting in such a beautiful square, I decided to find out if I could hire one. There’s a guy who owns lots of these telephone boxes around the city and rents them out – so I got in touch and leased them for a couple of years, and set to work restoring, decorating, and generally injecting some Mr Mustard magic into them.’
Another side note: Mr Mustard is an imaginary character in Sam’s paintings. ‘He lives locally and gets out and about with his grumpy fat Jack Russell terrier, Doris. Red phone boxes feature in lots of the scenes, so they immediately caught my imagination.’
The gallery features curated exhibitions which change every month. ‘Last month, we featured portraits of homeless people’s dogs by local artist Henry Garritt and this month there are self-portraits by Little Mustard staff.’
Fun fact: certain people love the new galleries SO SO much, they leave… presents. Highlights so far include a mannequin’s arm, and… a pumpkin.
So, what do you think? If you’ve art work to show off, hiring the phonebox gallery is free, and Little Mustard doesn’t take a commission on anything sold. Find out more about hiring it, here, and follow the Dog and Bone gallery on Instagram, here.
Psst. A Secret Shop Window of Curiosities, Brighton
Pssst. My Secret Brighton guidebook is here!