Friday, December 25, 2009

Room at the inn? Extraordinarily realistic Nativity mural painted on pub wall

By Bill Mouland

It is the time of year when customers at the Blisland Inn can generally be forgiven for thinking they are seeing things.

That wall, for instance, which has always seemed so solid with its feature barometers and real ale adverts and the old picture of the village football team.

Suddenly, like the legs of one who has had one too many, the wall does not seem so sturdy as before.

the blisland inn nativity scene

Art of illusion: Artist Janet Shearer who painted the 3-D mural on one of the walls at the Blisland Inn on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall


Mesmerising: Customers are in awe at the transformation of a wall in their local pub. It now shows the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, three wise men and a shepherd

'Incredible': The artwork shows the stable scene depicting the birth of Jesus

Thick stone pillars form a solid archway and the rough-hewn oak door opens to the sort of Nativity scene that has mesmerised people for more than 2,000 years.

There is Mary, cradling the baby Jesus in her arms, while Joseph, three wise men and a shepherd pay dutiful homage.

The scene is so realistic that one regular at the Bodmin Moor pub in Cornwall remarked, before taking a drink, this week: ‘I have been coming here for 40 years and I never realized that door was there before.’

Which it hasn’t been. For while some rely on humdrum tableaux of the Nativity this Christmas, the Blisland Inn is basking in the glory of a trompe d’oeil – a 3-D mural which makes it seem the pub has really grown an extra room – the stable where Jesus was born.

The extraordinary painting is the work of 56-year-old local artist Janet Shearer, whose previous commissions include a backcloth for the rock band Pink Floyd’s The Wall album and murals for Heathrow Airport and the film Aliens.

‘It’s the art of illusion,’ she said.

‘In reality it is just a blank wall full of barometers and pub memorabilia.

'My job was to make the painting appear to be part of the fabric of the building.’

Janet took three weeks to complete the canvas which is now stretched across the wall of the pub ready for its Christmas Eve unveiling.

For some locals, the picture is made all the more realistic by the fact that their faces have been used for the figures in the tableaux.

Landlord Gary Marshall, for instance, is Joseph while his barmaid Becky Van der Plank is Mary.

The Three Wise Men and a shepherd are played by customers Roger Winn, Ian Haggart, Steve Whiter and Janet’s partner Steve Jackson.

Janet has also included her five-year-old Jack Russell Ruby and painted some jokes on the door which say ‘Maximum Height – 5 Cubits’ and ‘No Camels’.

Gary Marshall said: ‘I was delighted to let Janet turn this blank wall into such an incredible scene. It was something different and has turned out to be absolutely brilliant.

'My customers absolutely love it. It has made our Christmas.’

No comments: