What's the story behind the NEW Veit Laurent Kurz mural on Guildford Street in Luton's #HatDistrict?


A mural created by the internationally acclaimed German artist Veit Laurent Kurz called: ‘Built on Waters of Love, Peace and Wisdom’ has been erected on the hoarding of the Hat Studios new build site at 33 Guildford Street in the Hat District, Luton. The artwork was commissioned by Luton Culture’s ‘As You Change, So Do I’ public arts project in the cultural quarter of town.


New Veit Laurent Kurz mural at the Hat Studios new build site in Guildford Street in Luton’s Hat District

New Veit Laurent Kurz mural at the Hat Studios new build site in Guildford Street in Luton’s Hat District

Veit Laurent Kurz mural: ‘Built on Waters of Love, Peace and Wisdom’ in Luton

Inspired by Luton’s rich history and drawing parallels with contemporary culture, Veit has created a visualisation, curated by Andrew Hunt, of a story he wrote about St Mary’s Church and the River Lea in Luton. Read the story below:

Extract of story to ‘Built on Waters of Love, Peace and Wisdom’ mural

An archaeological excavation was undertaken on the current site of the University of Bedfordshire, Luton before its redevelopment. Records indicate that the area was the location of a castle built by Falk De Breauté, an Anglo-Norman knight and favourite of King John, sometime around the 1220s. A Medieval document shows that the castle was surrounded by a moat. De Breauté had dammed the nearby river for this purpose, however his actions caused serious flooding to crops and buildings belonging to the church, which led to complaints by local preachers and farmers.

De Breauté was one of the most powerful men in the kingdom at the time, so he was not overly worried by the complaints, and he allegedly said that he wished that the damage had been worse. He was often described as a greedy bully, and it is claimed that he died from a poisoned fish served by one of his many enemies. It is also said that the reason De Breauté rerouted the waters – a spring close to the city of Luton first documented around 200 BC (now the River Lea) – originated in the myth that the holy waters had physical and mental healing properties. In one respect, this was an attempt by De Breauté to gather the waters to strengthen his family. At the time, he was suffering from strong Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – including symptoms such as constantly organising and measuring what was around him – and was looking for a cure.

On a quasi-compassionate level (one strangely alien to De Breauté) however, it is also said that the nobleman believed that the population of Luton weren’t able to deal with their surroundings in a natural way, and that, instead of following their instinctive desires, their behaviour was being affected negatively by society’s external rules, such as false moral codes associated with needing to preserve a role and purpose in the world, with spiritual work not being considered a purposeful activity.

In this respect, De Breauté’s ideas draw parallels against the contemporary phenomenon of a society manipulated and controlled by information technology, with vast amounts of data constantly bombarding individuals and communities on a daily basis, bringing with it a sublime form of psychological pressure. In his own words, De Breauté described members of Luton’s Medieval community, rather cynically, as: ‘a bunch of bad chillers who constantly need to DO something and who drag and involve people around them in their obsessive doings, DO, DO, DO.’

As a corrective to this historical and contemporary phenomenon, the Herba-4 Foundation is placing its resources into preserving the powers of local drinking waters in small international locations that contain holy springs and other sacred fluids. The Herba-4 Foundation wishes to remind Luton – a small post-industrial conurbation recently christened ‘a Town at the end of humanity’ – that it is built on historical waters of love, peace and wisdom, which, given the correct treatment, can lead to positive psychological, spiritual and cultural change. Through scientific and metaphysical research, it is the foundation’s goal to generate models, proposals and actions that make holy waters accessible again.

During the artist’s exhibition: The Bavarian Vampire (A Site Visit) in the Storefront Gallery, Bute Street last summer, visitors were asked what they thought about possible designs for the mural. Luton Culture was encouraged by their positive feedback which influenced the final piece.

 Luton Culture’s ‘As You Change, So Do I’ project, funded by the Arts Council, also commissioned the now iconic Beacon by Mark Titchner on the side wall of the Hat Factory arts centre.

The new mural going up on the Hat District new build site hoarding at 33 Guildford Street, Luton

 For further information about this press release, please email Emily.Finney@lutonculture.com, Marketing & Communications, Luton Culture on (0)1582 878123 or email her at Emily.Finney@lutonculture.com.


 Notes to editors

 About the artist

Veit Laurent Kurz was born in Germany in 1985 and is represented by Weiss Falk, Basel; Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmo; and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin.

 Luton Culture’s As You Change, So Do I  project

‘As You Change, So Do I’ is a new contemporary public realm arts project for Luton, commissioned by Luton Culture, and delivered by a curatorial team headed by lead artist, Mark Titchner.

 ‘As You Change, So Do I’ will promote and commission major projects in the public realm alongside a programme of events that includes performances, projections, screenings and talks. It produces nine projects each year, in which artists are given a platform to make new public works in response to Luton’s unique industrial and cultural history.

 Go to www.asyouchange.co.uk to find out more.

 About the Hat Studios mural location in the Hat District

The mural has been erected on the hoarding of the Hat Studios new build site as part of Luton Culture’s Hat District regeneration project.

 Built on the former site of Luton’s original arts centre, 33 Arts, this has been a vacant plot of land for many years. Acquired in June 2018, Hat Studios will provide approximately 8,000 square feet of retail, studio and workspace for established creative businesses and will be the fourth and final building in the Hat district project. It will be built in keeping with the hat trade heritage of Luton but will provide state-of-the-art creative space.

Luton Culture charitable Trust secured a vacant plot of land on Guildford Street. On this gap-site the charity is planning to build ‘Hat Studios’ with £3.9m funding from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) through government’s Local Growth Fund. The project will inject new vibrancy into this run-down part of the conservation area and protect the heritage of old hat factories that are currently falling into disrepair.