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New inspirational Katarina Johnson-Thompson mural is the ‘biggest in Liverpool’

1 week ago

New inspirational Katarina Johnson-Thompson mural is the ‘biggest in Liverpool’

We spoke to artist Paul Curtis about the new inspirational mural honouring city athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson that has been unveiled in Liverpool.

The 30-metre high artwork next to The Excelsior Pub in Dale Street shows the world heptathlete champion jumping over hurdles with motivational slogans like Believe in Yourself, Never Give Up, and You’ll Never Run Alone.

Katarina, 31, says: “The positive energy from my supporters has always spurred me on and inspired me, and this mural in my hometown that brings this to life is amazing.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been surrounded by people in my career who have my back and have given me so much encouragement.”

The mural dedicated to the athlete, who fought back from injuries to take gold in the World Athletics Championships last year and is looking to claim her first Olympic medal in Paris this summer, could be a record breaker itself.

Artist Paul Curtis who took three weeks to create the epic piece of art on the Kingsway House building, says: “I think it is the biggest one in Liverpool. As far as I know I can’t think of any bigger ones in the city.

“At 30-metres high, and 10 or 12 metres wide, it’s five or six times the size of the ones you see on the gable ends of houses.”

He adds that it’s a personal milestone for him as his second biggest ever and his 250th piece of wall art.

“I wanted the 250th to be a big one and I’m delighted that it’s this one of Katarina; I’m really proud of it. I’m a big admirer of her and she’s always really nice. She’s an amazing athlete, a great person and she is a local girl.  Everything just worked out nicely.

“And the idea of overcoming hurdles is something we can all relate to in life. That’s the message behind it. 

“One of the slogans is Progress not Perfection, and that’s a good one. If I’d have expected the first mural I did had to be perfect, I’d have never picked up a paintbrush.”

British Gas, who were behind a previous Paul Curtis mural at Katarina’s old school, St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Halewood which marked her incredible achievements, commissioned the latest one too.

It’s part of its programme to drive positive change in local communities and supporting communities through sport.

Meeting Katarina as the mural was officially unveiled was a group of children brought along by Liverpool Football Club Foundation which provides life-changing opportunities for young people and their families, and for which the Katarina is an ambassador.

Paul, 45, reveals how, once the site for the mural had been found, British Gas went away to come up with ideas for the mural and so did he: “And we both came up with the idea of hurdles.

“Putting the words on the hurdles was a nice idea because it was something that had meaning.

“Initially it was going to be stuff that had knocked Katarina down, things like ‘you’re not good enough’, and I liked that because we have all had that in our life.

“But Katarina Johnson-Thompson had the idea that instead of being negative it should be positive statements, and that’s worked really well. The image Katarina gave me of her was a really good image too.”

Next for Paul is an abstract mural in the centre of Prescot Village with ships and clocks, and he’s also making an appearance at Southport Flower Show next month.

“It’s nice to see people interested in what you’re doing,” says Paul, who overcame his own hurdles to get where he is.

A trained geologist who worked in the oil and gas industry before he devoted his career to art, he smiles: “I applied for a job with British Gas when I was about 20, and got rejected … things come around don’t they?”

They do, like the mural says, if you ‘Believe in Yourself’.

Get the latest art news for Liverpool HERE.

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