Send us news by text, start your message CN News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Upside down art for former Royal carriage
WITHIN a Crewe railway shed, surrounded by factories and heavy industry, an acclaimed artist is quietly creating his own, mobile Sistine Chapel.
Reclined in a modified computer gaming chair, wildlife illustrator Chris Shields listens to music while slowly covering the ceiling of the former Royal Household carriage, Duart.
Named after the Highland castle on Mull, the Pullman style coach is one of seven that form the Northern Belle – a luxury train reflecting the golden age of steam-hauled rail travel.
After developing a technique to prevent his acrylic paint dripping onto the floor, Chris is busy adding golden eagles, red deer stags and Scottish primrose to complement the rolling stock’s marquetry panelled walls and tartan furnishings.
“I’ve never painted on a ceiling before. It’s quite a challenge painting upside down,” explained the 58-year-old from Sale, Manchester.
“Normally I’m used to paint running off the brush, but at the moment it’s running into my hand. I’m using acrylics. I’ve had to mix them very thick. It’s a bit like painting with jam.”
Each of the Northern Belle’s carriages is named after a different castle or stately home. Chris will paint the ceilings of one each January until the train is complete.
But then the former Northwich College of Art and Design pupil is used to long projects – he was once hired by publishers Harper Collins to illustrate an exhaustive guide to Britain’s known fungi.
“It took me four years to paint 2,227 fungi. It’s considered the definitive field guide. You’d think that’s all the toadstools and mushrooms out there, but there are thought to be 15,000 different species!”
Having begun work on January 3, each of Chris’ 23 designs will take seven hours to finish, before the Northern Belle is due back out on the mainline, operating a year round selection of luxury and family trips from February.
Find out more at www.orient-express.com For more on Chris’ artwork, visit www.illustratedwildlife.com