trompe l'oeil

They fascinate me! If they're well done, of course. An old friend of mine once lived in a house in Chelsea where the owners had the most amazing trompe l'oeil running the length of a long hall. It was of a Roman landscape where animals grazed on hills dotted with olive trees, maidens carried water in urns, and a grand house standing ornate with frescoes and columns. Painted on sand coloured walls, the large Roman walls looked so realistic it was all rather strange to touch. Something unexpected. A complete trick of the eye!

It just so happens a few of these have popped up in Swanage, near where we spend our holidays. Not a Roman imagination but earthy, raw scenes that are more believable and relevant. Four years ago when we started coming, Swanage was a typical scruffy English seaside resort. Now, it's rapidly becoming a lovely little town - great shops are opening up and, of course, its proximity to the beach really makes it. More of that another time but back to the trompes! There is a building situated alongside the seafront, next to the pier, where you can find a set of them painted voluntarily by a couple of local artists for Purbeck Art Week in 2007. The images depict the past, present and possible future of the site and will remain until the building is re-developed.

I love these pictures. The detail is incredible - rats scurrying about looking for food,

a pair of house martins nesting,

the dog leaning out of a broken window cleaning up a bag of chips,

and the couple smoking in the café.

Not to be outdone, the little hut next door has been decorated with the sweetest puppy, who looks out of an open window.

Not far from here but still in Swanage, the entire front of a private house has been dedicated in memoriam to the owners' pet dog, Donut. It's a huge, in your face affair and, complete with the painter's contact details, the biggest business card I've ever seen!

Here's one climber that never needs pruning!

And now I think I'm trompe l'oeiled out (my husband will know what this means!) and am off to bed. Good night!

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