Psychedelic Les is really in the pink

Here is Les Dawson as you have never seen him before.

Monday, 3rd April 2017, 2:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:20 pm
Artist Andy Austin with his striking outdoor portrait of comedian Les Dawson in St Annes

A striking 6ft x 6ft image of the fondly-remembered Fylde comedian has quickly proved a talking point since being unveiled in St Annes town centre at the weekend.

The colourful portrait is the latest addition to the town’s burgeoning art quarter in Back St Annes Road West, already the scene of a mural by urban art specialists Nomad Clan which has been a conversation piece for passers=-by since December.

The Les portrait is the work of Andy Austin, who works as a window cleaner but is also a prolific artist, having gained a fine arts degree at the age of 40, shortly before he moved to the St Annes from his native Wakefield. In memory of his late sister Diane, who died in Yorkshire six years ago, Andy has dedicated much of his recent artwork to raising funds for charities such as Cancer Research and Trinity Hospice. Shortly after Diane’s death, he organised an international charity art exhibition for The Union for International Cancer Control in Budapest.

Artist Andy Austin with his striking outdoor portrait of comedian Les Dawson in St Annes

The Dawson portrait is actually on the garage doors at the rear of St Annes’ Cancer Research shop and Andy hopes the presence of the artwork will encourage more people to visit that part of town and help boost business and funds for the charity.

Andy, 55, spent a total of 20 hours working on the portrait indoors before it was mounted on the Cancer Research garage doors and unveiled on Saturday afternoon.

“My main objective with it was emotional impact and I have already had plenty of very positive feedback,” he said.

“Les was a real ray of sunshine and the aim of the bright colours is to reflect that and the happiness he inspired.”

Artist Andy Austin with his striking outdoor portrait of comedian Les Dawson in St Annes

The work consists of a series of abstract shapes to make up the face of the comedy legend - and Andy promises that it should prove even more striking in the coming weeks.

He says the fluorescent acrylic paint used for the work means that it will really stand out when illuminated after dark - and that is the intention as soon as lighting can be rigged up.

“I am liaising with the Urban Arts Studio across the road, where I prepared the work, to get that arranged and it really should be quite something when it is set up,” said Andy.

Gillian Murray, manager of the St Annes Cancer Research shop, said: “I absolutely love the portrait of Les and we are absolutely delighted to have it on our garage.

“I saw it in preparation indoors but it is even more striking now it is in place and we hope it will increase awareness, of our shop being there as well as the artworks on show in that area. Andy has been a good friend and supporter of the charity for some time and it’s great that he has brought such a memorable image to the town centre.”