Splash of Colour for Turtle Doves
19 Aug 2021
by Katy Rink

Gary Drew's stunning new mural on the walls of the Turtle Doves studio factory on Lancaster Road in Shrewsbury: All pics by Kate Bronner

Shrewsbury has become a major draw for fabulous cartoonists, mural artists and other creatives. We have some world famous talents operating here – not least mural artist Gary Drew, who is behind some of our most eye-catching street art, including The Severn Social interactive murals.

Recently, Gary was commissioned to create this jaw-dropping mural – an amazing 2,000 square feet of wall space - at the Turtle Doves studio factory on Lancaster Road, Shrewsbury.

Turtle Doves owner Graham Holbrook called Gary in after spotting his work in town: “His work at Severn Social is obviously striking and there are always queues to get in so they must be having an effect!” Graham said.

“We're a really creative business trying to make beautiful and useful clothes from jumpers that have been discarded so I thought let's celebrate that creativity by painting some joy on the walls.

“Since Turtle Doves is a sustainability brand it seemed appropriate to ask Gary to paint things that remind us about biodiversity loss and climate change.”

Gary Drew mural at Turtle Doves turtle

The multi-coloured murals depict a stunning array of turtles, polar bears and glaciers: “I also wanted him to paint a young girl watering her garden because we need to act now to save the planet for our children,” Graham adds.

Gary has surreal sense of humour so the young girl is pouring water on the fire door and the polar bear is sitting in a glass of martini!

“Gary wanted a bee because they represent the fragility of our ecosystems, but Gary being Gary, it's a designer bee covered with YSL logos,” Graham reveals. “We have a koala bear chilling in a tree wearing one of our socks. Netty our brand director wanted a Celtic Tree of Life and I wanted a monkey spinning plates because that's what I feel like sometimes. We also have a couple of goats because our main fabric is cashmere.

“There's a story to each of them which makes people smile but also a seriousness because we are in danger of losing what we've always taken for granted.”

The murals took Gary two weeks to finish: “We all loved watching him work and were both fascinated with how he painted the murals (he uses a projector to trace the outlines then a spray gun to make the paintings) and then amazed at their beauty. Some of our colleagues have started bringing in their children to show them,” Graham says.

“We are all blown away by them. It's a bit like walking into a circus tent.We all look up and smile when we walk about. I can't wait to show our suppliers and customers.”

Cherie Jerard admires Gary Drew murals

"You could look at Gary's artwork daily and keep seeing more" - Cherie Jerrard on the new Turtle Doves mural by fellow artist Gary Drew

(picture: Kate Bronner) 

Another Shrewsbury creative Cherie Jerrard is a big fan of Gary's work: "Whenever he is in Shrewsbury I like to pay him a visit and see what he’s up to. I was totally blown away by the scale of this work which is literally on another level.

"He is a fantastic mural artist uncompromising on detail, despite having to cover such a large area. You could look at this artwork daily and keep seeing more. I particularly loved the polar bear in the Martini glass surrounded by the Northern Lights… who else would come up with that?!"

Gary has also done work for Shrewsbury cocktail bar Libertine (and in sister bars in Aberystwyth and Cardiff), as well as for The House of Beauty, House of Yum in Shrewsbury's Market Hall and The Anchor in Frankwell – more on this to be announced soon! You’ll see more of his work at The Wheatsheaf too and in a new Italian restaurant in town 'Osteria' coming soon. 

Gary said: “Shrewsbury has become a great canvass for me and the locals have become great supporters of my work. The people of Shrewsbury are really open minded about lots of things, not just art, I feel they have a lot of encouragement for anyone trying to try something new different or just another spin on an old idea.

"I’ve travelled to lots of places but Shrewsbury has to be one of my favourite places. I've had a lot of support and masses of positive energy from all the companies I have worked for. I almost feel like a local, I actually wish I was, even my family love to be here!”

Gary Drew mural polar bear

You can also find Gary Drew originals at The Soden Collection on Wyle Cop, including the ‘Shh’ painting of Darwin, which includes nostalgic figures from The Beano and Dandy and ‘Homage to Basquiat’ painted on pallet boards, both pictured below (Basquiat used to paint on old doors and tyres!).

 Gallery owner Jonathan Soden praised Gary’s ‘highly thoughtful and innovative’ style: “Gary has been part of the gallery for a few years now and we love having his work on the walls. His paintings are loved in Shrewsbury and are getting acknowledgment all over the country now.

“Shrewsbury is a place that more and more artists are flocking to and indeed mural artists; I think we have more places in the town that are crying out for public art and mural artists are the ones to literally paint the town “red”.”

 Signed limited editions prints of Gary’s most popular pieces are now available to purchase on the Soden Collection website and in the gallery.

"The people of Shrewsbury are really open minded about lots of things, not just art, I feel they have a lot of encouragement for anyone trying to try something new different or just another spin on an old idea" - mural artist Gary Drew

Basquiat by Gary Drew at The Soden Collection
Shh by Gary Drew at The Soden Collection