On the beach

Last month my first town sign went up in Leysdown-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey. This engagingly quirky and very traditional seaside resort’s been having a bit of an ‘art’ face lift and my three metre high enamel sign was part of the revamp. I’ve nothing against village signs, well, nothing unless you count the fact that they are often produced in an off the peg format and style which bears absolutely no relation to the spirit of the place. Rather like a funeral I went to where the deceased was praised for her enjoyment of classical music, but no mention was made of her breath taking talent for playing the spoons…

Not so Leysdown. For a start I was damned if I was going to produce something rectangular. Actually I would have been damned as a rectangle the size I had in mind wouldn’t have fitted in the furnace (an essential part of making vitreous enamel signage). I’ve worked many times with enamellers AJ Wells and Sons and between us we came up with a way of turning my idea for an arching segmented artwork into a practical and cost effective sign, immune to the attentions of excitable holiday makers on a high season Saturday night.

Front
Front

Imagery was easy: Leysdown’s the sort of place you visit with your Nan, catch crabs on the beach and get to stay up past bed time in the arcades. I adored similar holidays on the Lincolnshire coast as a child. I worked with writer Mark Hewitt and together we came up with a visual and verbal description of the town; caravan sites, wind farm and all. I believe in telling it how it is – the caravans are what makes Leysdown and they feature as a pattern across my sign. As far as I could see, each one had a family inside having a good time and that’s something to celebrate not belittle.

Back
Back

This is the first time I’ve used silk screen alongside hand painting. The front of the sign is mostly silk screen printing by my mate Ian at AJ Wells who makes it all look easy. Then, holding decorator’s roller trays like paint palettes and glossing rollers like brushes, I painted the seascape, the caravans and the landscapes.

I hope the locals like my sign and that they see it for what it is: a tribute to the kind of holiday destination that made for some of my best childhood memories…