A touch of imagination, a dab of paint and little bit of tea has transformed a lifeless wall at the ARTea Room, Wakefield Country Courtyard into an enchanting street full of character and artistry. This is more than a picture, it is an eye-catching mural filled with a fascinating detail that brings the
whole tearoom to life.

It is a little over a year ago since owner James Swansborough-Smith made the decision that he wanted to revive the corner of his tearoom and it wasn’t long before that idea was turning into a reality. From a chance discussion with his brother, his artist sister-in-law produced a concept that was an instant hit with James. Although time prevented her from taking the concept further, local illustrator Lizzie Downhill was able to step in.

Lizzie Downhill at Work, Artea Room PotterspuryLizzie, from Deanshanger, is a talented student of Illustration whose love of drawing began at a very young age. As soon as James saw her incredible skill he was confident that she had the ability to create this pictoral story. Lizzie grabbed the opportunity and this summer her life was transformed from part-time waitress at ARTea Room to artist-inresidence.
Although flattered by the offer it soon dawned on Lizzie that this picture was to be on a scale far bigger than she has ever drawn. Not only that, the picture would be on permanent display to the ARTea Room customers and James would not be able to change his mind! Filled with excitement and fear, by the end of July she found herself staring at the wall that was to be her first commissioned piece of artwork.
The weeks before were spent perfecting the concept; she began with a print of the original idea, redrew it and thoughtfully added in the detail. Too much and it would overcomplicate her idea for simple imagery, too little detail and people wouldn’t be drawn in. Finally it was ready.

Over the following weeks, Lizzie placed simple pencil lines onto the plain white wall to mark out the picture. She then took her paintbrush and carefully stroked thin black lines of paint over the outlines.

Lizzie and James wanted the colour to create a nostalgia befitting of a 1930s tearoom. This was proving difficult until Lizzie spotted the tins of tea sitting above the ARTea Room serving counter. Not only could she create depth and intensity with different strengths and flavours of tea,this really was the most fitting way to add colour in a tearoom. With over 20 flavours to choose from, all offering slight variations in colour and taste, there was no turning back.  Now as you look at the mural, you step back into a time when life seeemed so much simpler – the distinctive brickwork, the everyday folk, the shops and other details become real. Seeing is believing though and the only way you’ll find out what this wonderful piece of artwork looks like is to pop along to ARTea Room for one of their delicious afternoon cream teas, sandwiches or a light lunches and see for yourself.

Text taken from Essentially Local