Raining Cats and Dogs

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Last year’s Smash Proof Street Art caught my attention as an ideal opportunity to realise a mural idea that I’d had running in my head for a while.
I spend a lot of time in Sharrow and many a happy moment in the car park at the Old School with everyone getting lanterns ready for Sharrow Lantern Carnival in the spring sunshine. Looking at the boarded up windows on the infant school l knew that this was the place for my design; something that would bring a smile to faces leaving the building opposite.
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I envisaged a quick piece of work: simple black and white caricatures of cats and dogs raining (or reigning!) diagonally across a blue-sky background. And so l set to work. It was a good time. Sketching my mate’s dogs in the cemetery, photographing a cat who lived in the allotment, friends posting me pics of their long lost pets to be immortalised in paint.
Then there were the logistics; jumping out of bed and stuffing my top box and panniers full of acrylics and chocolates, racing across town to open up the art room, tune into radio 6, put kettle on and make sure the French Fancies were sweet enough before I post pics of progress on Facebook to lure folk in to turn this from a solo into a collaborative, community project.
Preparing the boards in the sunny school playground, breaking for chats with curious cats and life drawing a patient greyhound with ‘Bowie-eyes’. Stressing at there being more dogs than cats – Lisa bringing her elegant Poppy and painting Poppy again and again. Tina, Danielle and Dom painting cats, Sarah calling by to correct the tail of her dog I painted wrong. Booking yet another ‘one last session’ – bargaining with time. Sawing up a board and hailing a taxi when it was really raining cats and dogs and painting and painting until I have to leave for Athens, handing over to Lisa to get the job done. Laughing at myself thinking back to my proposal, saying it would take me just a weekend to do! It’s definitely as much about the journey as the destination. I hope it continues to keep giving pleasure and inspiring delight in passers by.

Here’s what Lisa has to say about the project:

Inspired by a Facebook post l turned up to the Art Room at the Sharrow Junior School back in October to paint my dog, Poppy. I wanted to be part of something following a sudden bereavement and the Raining Cats and Dogs mural seemed just the job. I was welcomed, plied with coffee and cream and presented with a huge empty board in bright blue. Starting with a rough sketch of my dog sitting on her haunches, nose resting between her paws l went on to put down the shape of her in white and almost life sized. With characteristic enthusiasm Patrick had given carte blanche to create, so whilst l wrestled with the spacing of 3 further Poppy’s Dominic, my 8 year old son, did his very own depiction of a pair of kittens we’d met in summer. And the more l painted the more l wanted to paint, almost like it took over, and again, encouraged by Patrick the final panel became the background for menagerie of long lost pets. Then came the finishing touches, the varnishing and the nailing in place in the Old School windows. I am still in awe of what was envisioned and realised and am going on to contribute further in as many ways as l can. Lisa Wallace

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