Julian Beaver

julian beever, the onion, hubig s, crushspot.com, sidewalk art

Internationally renowned Artist Julian Beever is often called the 'Pavement Picasso' for his enormous 3D pavement sketchings that bring his art well and truly to the streets.

Celebrating Chinese New Year

For three days on the 27th, 28th and 29th January 2006, Julian decorated the streets of Birmingham's Chinatown with a huge three metre by three metre Chinese dragon in celebration of Chinese New Year.

"Today I'm drawing Felix the Cat gate-crashing the Chinese New Year of the dog. He's popping put of the ground in a Chinese dragon costume."

It was while working with a Punch & Judy show in York that Julian Beever saw other pavement artists and first became inspired to give pavement art a go.

The 3D aspect to his work came much later while he was working in Brussels, "I decided to get into 3D after seeing the effect of tiles being removed from the street, and later trying to recreate the sense of depth in a drawing.

"Once I realised you could make things go down, I realised you could make them appear to go up and I began experimenting."

Julian works in chalk, so his art, which takes up to 3 days to complete, is there only as long as the elements allow, "If it rains it means I've done a lot of hard work for nothing, but I usually manage to avoid that.

"The important thing for me is to get a photo of it at the end. For me, I'm working towards building a photograph as my end result, and if I get that I'm happy."

In fact it's not just the weather that can be cruel. During Julian's last visit to Birmingham his drawing was swilled away from the pavement due to a mix up with permissions.

Julian admits that some people do see his work as graffiti, and don't feel it has a place on public streets. Happily, he says, he mostly receives a positive reaction and people like and enjoy his art.

"My art is for anybody, it's for people who wouldn't go into an art gallery. It's art for the people.

"Art shouldn't be locked away in galleries and libraries and books. Art should be for everybody and not just art boffins, historians and so-called experts."

Julian's 'trompe l'oeil' (or 'trick of the eye') pavement art is amazing to see. The effect is so convincing people will swerve to avoid potholes he has drawn in the pavement. But just how does he get this incredible effect?

"The secret is to set up a camera on a tripod and keep it in one spot and check every mark you make. It's really just playing with perspective to make it appear different to what it really is.

The full effect of Julian's art is only truly appreciated when viewed through the wide angle lens on his camera. Julian invites people to have a look for themselves - visit him outside the Hippodrome Theatre and take a look!

Julian took three days to complete the drawing in Birmingham, an admirable feat considering he spent three days outside in biting winds and temperatures barely reaching 5ÂșC.

"It's very hard work but running about between the camera and the drawing keeps me warm, and I just keep aiming at my final result. I work all the daylight hours available which is about eight hours a day in winter.

"It's very physically demanding to do it. I don't actually kneel at all as it puts a huge strain on your body, I have a stool which I lie on which removes some of the physical stress."

In the last 15 years Justin has produced hundreds of pieces of 'pavement art' at venues all over Europe, but this will be the first time he's completed one on the streets of Birmingham.

The final piece was revealed at noon on Sunday 29th January 2006 to coincide with the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Arcadian Centre.

The picture is finished and Julian has left his mark on the streets of Birmingham. His patience and dedication to his art is inspiring, as too is his patience with his 'gallery' visitors.

I watched as Julian engaged with people who quizzed him on art, politics and life in general. The picture on the pavement drew people in, and Julian ironically, was the captive audience that listened to each and every person who came by to view his work.

So after three days in Baltic Birmingham, and the picture completed, how does he feel? "I'm relieved that I got it finished. The weather's been tough but it hasn't rained and the whole project has come to its destination.

"I'm very pleased, when you're working outdoors you never know what's going to happen - it can always go wrong. It's a pleasure and relief to get it finished."

And next on the agenda for Julian Beever? "A rest - and a hot bath!"

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