Rutland Sea Dragon brought to life by Julian Beever's stunning 3D pavement drawing in Mill Street, Oakham
Traders came up with a novel way of attracting custom thanks to a world-famous street artist and the Rutland Sea Dragon.
The Mill Street Traders Association commissioned artist Julian Beever to produce a 3D chalk pavement drawing of an ichthyosaur outside their shops.
Julian got down to his work on Thursday, 24 hours later than planned because of rain, but completed the project a day ahead of schedule on Saturday.
The drawing measures seven metres and honours the fossilised prehistoric ichthyosaur found at Rutland Water last year.
The association was formed to connect businesses in Mill Street and work together to drum up trade post-lockdown.
Mill Street jeweller Heidi Kjeldsen first suggested using chalk drawing as a promotional tool last year.
“One of the best in the business lives in Melton Mowbray so we contacted him,” said Chris Gunby, owner of Creme Hair and Beauty.
“When the Rutland Sea Dragon was found, he rang and said ‘this is what we need to be doing’.
“The money has come out of our subscriptions pot so everyone has contributed towards it.
“We are all buzzing - his work is amazing.”
Julian receives commissions from all across the world, but this time he faced a short hop down the A606 from Melton.
"Overall I was very pleased because everybody was happy which is my aim as an artists when I have a commission," he said
"It got a lot of attention on the street and the response was very favourable."
Julian has become known all over the world, especially for his anamorphic illusions - images drawn in a special distortion to create an impression of three dimensions when seen from a particular viewpoint.
And when the ichthyosaur was discovered, it seemed the perfect subject.
"The subject couldn't have been better," he said.
"So many people are interested in the ichthyosaur and many people in Oakham have a sense of ownership of it."
The drawing was done on vinyl, rather than the pavement itself and will be rolled up and stored away to be displayed when the weather allows.
"It's done in chalk so it won't last forever and will deteriorate from being lifted and rolled up," Julian added.
"Up until fairly recently the drawings were always done on pavements so I got used to letting go of them afterwards."
Its completion coincided with the first of this year’s Coffee and Cars meetings, one of several events and initiatives the group has launched.
“Before no-one spoke to each other because there was no way to speak to each other,” Chris explained.
“So we set up a WhatsApp group and from there set up a proper association.
“Working together has been fantastic for the street and definitely improved trade.”