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23 November 2011

Working with Loch Ness on DIY SOS (BBC's Children in Need)

If you had your television set switched on during the time BBC had the Children in Need appeal, you may have spied Loch Ness and myself painting a rather large mural in Norris Green Youth Centre (Liverpool) as part of the DIY SOS project to completely redo the run-down building, sponsored by POSCA.

With a mere 10 days the entire team did an unbelievably amazing job of completely transforming the centre and we're really proud to have been part of it. Arriving half way through the project, we had four days to complete our mural. A daunting prospect, which became more so as we had to spend the first half of our first day on site waiting for the background blue paint to completely dry before we could start to paint on any main colours.

This gave us plenty of time to hunt for the paints, which we'd requested - we eventually found them with the help of the production team (who were incredible) - also, managed to squeeze in time to sketch out some images for the hallway, coming into the centre (see further down this post).
(Earphones in and painting in the eye on one of Loch Ness' characters - a proper collaboration!)
(a worker looks on at the main colours painted on Day 1)
Once we the background colour was dry, we set about drawing on the outlines of our characters and then filling in the shapes with main colours. Hard-hats on (blue for Loch Ness, yellow for me) - it was a building site after all - we worked solidly til around 9pm, only stopping for the occasional coffee and some warming canteen dinner. By the end of the day, we'd got in most of the main colours on the lower half of the mural.

Day 2 saw us back on site for 8am and straight into painting. Feeling a little out-of-place surrounded by a very busy building site, Loch Ness and I had to stay focused and try not to get in the way of lots of volunteers, camera crews and local celebs running through. By late afternoon we had black outlines done on the lower half of the mural and were keen to get started on the top half, but couldn't get our hands on the scissor lifts until they'd finished putting the ceiling up in the other room. Doing the best we could on ladders, it wasn't til towards the end of the day that we got a scissor lift and managed to get in some large areas of colour onto the top half of the mural.

Day 3 - and we threw ourselves at the top half of the mural, fully aware of how much we had to do - pressure being that we had to finish, so they could have time to lay the floor. As one of my characters was over one of the main passageways through the building, I had to be quick in putting in the colour (fortunately the paint dried fast) and then adding the outline almost straight away.
(Loch Ness having a well deserved coffee break and preparing to use the scissor lift)
Surprise visit of the day was by local celeb, Neil Buchanan (of Art Attack fame). A childhood hero of both Loch Ness and myself, we weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves, except say hi and muster up the gumption to ask for a photo with him! After some discussion with the film crew Neil suggested that he could add a character to our mural of himself as a younger lad drawing. Of course, we couldn't refuse and recognised it'd make a great piece to camera for the program too! He's a lovely chap and was really down to earth, friendly and had lots to say about his current art projects. 
(One for the scrapbook)
(Saying something to camera)
(Loch Ness painting around the guttering)
(Loch Ness on the scissor lift)
(End of Day 3 - night time and sleepy)
All guns blazing on Day 4 to get the mural finished and last minute additions of extra floating leaves and musical circles coming out of the trumpet helped tie it all together. In the afternoon I added some birds to the hallway and Loch Ness added some characters underneath them. Below are photos showing the final mural and the hallway drawing. Phew!

Watch a video of us chatting with Nick Knowles here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ls19j
(Loch Ness character on the left, mine on the right)
(The full height!)


(Our hallway drawing)
(before)
(after)


The reaction of the youth to the centre was truly moving and Loch Ness and I honestly were overwhelmed and didn't know what to really make of it all. Such a great project to be part of and one we'll never forget. Read more about the project here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0175m8w#clips