Music venue thanks fans with mural by children's illustrator

  • Published
David LitchfieldImage source, Nigel Spencer
Image caption,
David Litchfield said Bedford Esquires, in Greyfriars, was "a real musical community"

An award-winning illustrator has painted a mural on a music venue's wall to thank hundreds of people who gave money to help it survive lockdown.

David Litchfield said it was an "honour" to carry out the work on the side of Bedford Esquires, which was forced to close on 20 March.

About 1,400 people raised £50,000 via crowdfunding to keep it afloat.

Litchfield said he had met his wife, and seen and played his first gigs, at "my hometown's best music club".

Image source, Neil McCarty
Image caption,
The mural took four days to complete and the artist said he saw it as "my way of contributing to the cause"

The artwork, The Mural of Fame, was "a little bit rock roll" and adapted from the usual "innocent style" of his children's books, he said.

The Bedfordian won a Waterstones Children's Book Prize for The Bear and The Piano in 2016.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The venue likes "to catch the stars of tomorrow", such as Lizzo

Acts to appear at Esquires over the years have included Coldplay, Muse, Elbow, Lizzo, Biffy Clyro and Bedford's Tom Grennan.

"So many bands and performers I like and admire have walked past that wall and played in that hallowed ground," said Litchfield.

"It is an honour to be a part of that wall."

Image source, David Litchfield/Quarto Children's Books
Image caption,
David Litchfield wrote and illustrated The Bear and The Piano and the recently released The Bear, the Piano, and Little Bear's Concert

The mural features the names of about 350 people who pledged money, some drawn in the style of tattoos.

The venue covered the costs of the materials, but the artist gave his time for free.

Gareth Barber, the venue's owner and promoter, said: "David was the person I really wanted to do it.

"We wanted it to be a stand-alone art piece for the town, as well as a reference to the amount pledged at one of the most difficult times I've known."

Image source, NEIL McCARTY
Image caption,
Musician Tom Grennan regularly played Esquires as his career took off

He said that as the club's overheads were "huge", most of the money had already gone, but he hoped it would soon receive further grants from the government's Culture Recovery Fund.

"I am hoping to reopen at some point this year, but the costs of opening far outweigh what we are able to take under current restrictions," he said.

Image source, Neil McCarty
Image caption,
Litchfield wanted to paint "in a cool way", he said

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