A community arts group facing extinction made a triumphant comeback as they revamped a pub toilet into a dazzling work of art.
Open Arts Luton is run by programme leader Liz Aldous and it helps people with mental health or social isolation problems to express themselves in art.
Its future looked in severe jeopardy just before Christmas when it lost its main source of funding. But after lobbying hard for the group’s survival, as well as winning the Best Community Project gong at the Love Luton Awards, Open Arts has bounced back with new sources of funding.
And for group leader Liz, transforming the ladies toilets of the Bricklayers Arms in High Town into one of the most unique in the country has been a great comeback.
She said: “I have to say, the artists involved have worked for hours on this venture with my support and we are very proud of what we have achieved as a group. It is very quirky and unique.”
Gail Dearing of NHS SEPT – the original sponsors of Open Arts – made a speech and read a poem for the opening of the luxurious loo.
Open Arts’ logo of tree branches adorn the walls, and hand-painted images of Victorian hats honour Luton’s historic hat-making industry.
Framed pictures of pub regulars also hang off the branches, with some frames left free for more pictures to be added in the future.
Group members spoke about their positive experience in the project. Richard Lees said: “I’ve been with Open Arts since last April. It does me a lot of good, it gets me out the house and it gets me thinking about things to work on.
“I would say this was one of our biggest projects. The whole thing was really fun and I’m just happy I got asked to work on it.”
Now, Liz is keen to involve Open Arts in other projects in Luton.
She said: “We are looking to expand. It might be any venue, anyone with a business, maybe a shop or a restaurant who has a blank wall they want to fill, let us know about it.”