Sholto and Hugo Brown have given the back wall of leisure clothes store Forty Five the Oscar Wilde treatment in a stunning mural that took just one day to complete this week.
The wall faces onto Guttery Gable, a passageway that links Market Street with the capital’s main shopping area Strand Street.
Until this week, all the high sided walls were functional and plain. Now there is a piece of art that brightens up the whole area.
Manx artists Sholto and Hugo are now based in London and work together under the brand id-iom, creating works of art in the city, around the UK and beyond. Their next trip is to a street art festival in Amsterdam.
Their latest work is based on the Oscar Wilde quote and a tribute to the name of its surroundings: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’
They formed id-iom after both decided they wanted to be their own boss. Sholto had previously worked for a publishing house and Hugo turned to art almost straight from university.
The pair are building a growing reputation for their art work.
They have been keen to ply their trade in the Isle of Man.
‘Every time we come back at Christmas we see these massive walls all over Douglas and no one cares for them,’ said Hugo. ‘We just wanted to show how you can liven things up a little.’
Not surprisingly, the art world can be a competitive environment and it can be tough to make ends meet some times.
Hugo said: ‘Occasionally we have to do some temping for a bit of extra cash but generally the art is full time.’
Summer time is, not surprisingly, their busiest period, but they work in all weather.
‘It can be a bit harsh in cold wind or rain, especially if you have to hold onto a ladder while you are doing your work,’ said Sholto. ‘Some artists wear gloves when it gets bad, but it is not ideal.’
A brief dip into the brothers’ family background means that their creativity should come as no surprise. Their father, the late Ian Brown, was one of the Island’s top architects and the man behind the stunning design of the Villa Marina. Mother Audrey Brown’s name is synonymous with fashion in women’s clothing, while another brother, Oscar, is no slouch on the artistic front either and has worked in design.
The name id-iom is a tribute to their father, who used to run an art shop called Idiom.
The former King William’s College pupils work well together and there is no sibling rivalry.
‘When it comes down to art we never argue or complain at all,’ said Hugo. ‘It is always good to have someone else who understands it to look at what you have done.’
Inevitably, when people talk them to about their work the name of globally famous street artist Banksy comes up. As Banksy’s identity is still unknown, there is always one question.
‘They always say “are you Banksy?”’ said Sholto. ‘It’s standard.’
Hugo confirmed that neither of them is Banksy, adding: ‘I wish I had his bank balance!’
Although the mural is their first exterior work in Douglas, customers of Forty Five may recognise the style, as the brothers provided art work for the interior of the shop.
Charlie Turner, a director of the Charles Turner group of companies that runs Forty-Five, neighbouring Intersport and menswear store Garrey Corneil, said: ‘I have known Hugo and Sholto since we were all kids and have always been a fan of their work
‘We have had a lot of positive feedback from customers in Forty Five, who were intrigued by the artwork so, together, we came up with the idea of painting the outside wall.
‘The building’s owner was happy for us to go ahead with it and we also got in touch with Douglas Development Partnership and Douglas Council and they have both been very supportive.’
He added: ‘There has been a lot of work on the paving in the main shopping streets, so it is nice to complement that with something a little special in one of the back streets.
‘A lot of people have complained that Guttery Gable is, at best, drab. Now, thanks to Hugo and Sholto, that has been rectified!’
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