Munch, Winchmore Hill’s first vegetarian and gluten free restaurant opened on February 14th, and it was only a couple of days later when the owners contacted me via my website to ask if I’d be interested in using their blank white walls to display some art or creating a mural for their back wall. They’d heard about me from Love Your Doorstep Enfield and a couple of their customers had mentioned me at their opening.
Of course, I was interested! I looked up the restaurant on social media and quickly got an impression of what the space was like, and almost immediately I began to imagine what I could paint on that blank canvas of a white wall.
After an initial visit, during which I discussed with the owners that I’d like to do both; paint a mural and display artwork, I got to work on some ideas. I knew they’d involved trees in some way. Nature would be the overall theme. Big skies, tall trees and lots of colour. I used pencils, soft pastels, watercolour and acrylic paints to get those ideas down. I knew which one was my favourite, but I wanted to give Munch a range of concepts to choose from for the mural.
On the second visit, armed with canvases and a large folder containing pencil drawings, watercolour and soft pastel paintings, we laid them out on a few tables for the owner, Phill Lupton, to have a look. Coincidentally, he chose my favourite one!
I had a good look at the wall the mural was going to be painted on. It didn’t seem that high, and I wasn’t at first worried about having to climb a ladder. I’d done it before. We took some photos and arranged for work to start on the days when they were closed. I estimated the painting would take a couple of days and the finishing touches would need a morning to complete.
The next part was sourcing the materials I’d need. Paints, brushes, sponges, varnish, masking tape and large cloths for laying down on the floor to protect it from any drips or splashes.
On a Monday morning, with my carer and friend, I got started. It was peaceful and with the restaurant being closed, there was only us. We prepared the wall, laid down the clothes and got all the masking tape. We got the ladder out and I climbed up with my brush and container and my carer, down below, said “one more step”. But I couldn’t move. I physically couldn’t get up there, my knees began to shake. Eventually I did manage to get up to where I needed to be, but I was extremely wobbly, the ground was too far down. After a few more attempts I burst into tears and needed some time to regain myself.
Somehow, we got it done, despite my fear of being off the ground and up on a ladder. The colours were wild; a red and purple sky against a backdrop of imposing birches. In the foreground were bluebells and perennials and hanging vines. It’s the largest thing I’ve ever painted and it was a huge learning experience. I hadn’t quite considered how the paint would behave, and how difficult it would be to blend the colours. On a canvas this was easy, but I had to adjust my techniques for it to work on a wall. There was also the quick drying time which meant that I had to work the paint very quickly.
I’m glad I was able to bring some colour to Munch. As an autistic person, I was grateful for the space and quiet in which to work and I was given much time to process information. As an artist I was able to pitch ideas, come up with concepts and still have much room for expression as I went. It was a very rewarding experience and I hope people will continue to enjoy both the mural and paintings that adorn the other walls.