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Boarded-up nightclub transformed into artwork with huge lizard mural

·3-min read

A boarded-up former nightclub has been transformed into an enormous artwork.

The sand lizards mural on Toad Hall in Ainsdale, Sefton, Merseyside, was created by Paul Curtis, and is thought to be the largest painting by a single artist in the UK.

The artwork, a tribute to the rare reptiles which have a home on the Sefton coastline, took 330 litres of paint and 42 spray paint cans to produce.

Paul Curtis mural – Ainsdale
Work is completed on artist Paul Curtis’ sand lizards mural which covers the exterior of Toad Hall in Ainsdale, Merseyside (Peter Byrne/PA)

Curtis, who is famous for brightening up buildings across Merseyside with his work, spent 360 hours, through rain and sunshine, creating the mural of the two lizards on the exterior of the building, which is roughly the size of four tennis courts.

He said: “The initial designs went for the obvious… put a toad on Toad Hall.

“However, after producing a series of toady designs, none of them seemed to work. We took the tough decision to scrap that idea completely.

“Eventually the sand lizard idea was landed on. This would fit the bill. Bright vibrant colours, elongated shape to match the proportions of Toad Hall and part of the local fauna. It ticked all the boxes!”

Curtis, known for creating the For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds mural of wings, which the Duchess of Cornwall posed in front of on a visit to Liverpool, as well as murals of Ken Dodd and Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams, began work on the building in August.

He said: “This is far from a flat canvas; there are numerous nooks and crannies, pillars and alcoves. This presents difficulties in simply accessing certain parts, but also in making the image line up and make sense.

“The claws of the lizard were one of the most difficult things I have ever painted because of this 3D challenge. I knew this would be a tough assignment and I knew it would take time.”

But he said the mural had been a “joy” to work on because of the public reaction.

He said: “Everyone who approached me was so positive.”

Toad Hall was built in the 1920s and designed to be the start of a promenade, but plans never came to fruition.

It was later a popular nightclub, but the building has remained empty since that closed.

The artwork was commissioned by Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service as part of plans to invest in the coastal area.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We gave Paul an enormous challenge when we asked him to brighten up Toad Hall and I can certainly say that he has stepped up to that challenge.

“His mural is a magnificent celebration of our unique and environmentally important coast.

“Paul has captured our Ainsdale dunes and sand lizards perfectly, and I know that people will travel from far and wide to get a glimpse of the finished mural.”

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