In pictures: Damage to Knaresborough’s iconic trompe l’oeil

Knaresborough pictures at the rail station. (1804162AM3)
Knaresborough pictures at the rail station. (1804162AM3)

The guardians of Knaresborough’s famous trompe l’oeil say they are confident of saving the iconic art installations despite damage linked, of all things, to a bank closure.

Since they were first mounted on prominent buildings 18 years ago, the eye-catching designs have brought the town centre alive for visitors and residents.

The role played by the trompe l’oeil, meaning paintings which create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions, has been particularly important during the summer months and feva arts festival.

Normally, feva volunteers ensure the paintings are spared the worst of winter each year by placing them safely in storage.

In addition, work is carried out regularly, again by volunteers, to maintain and preserve the impressive paintings with leaning and revarnishing.

The problems this year seem to have been caused by one simple thing - the closure of the Knaresborough branch of the HSBS bank on the High Street in October 2016.

Tony Cerexhe, chair of feva, said: “Sadly, the committee were unsuccessful in finding suitable dry storage after HSBC closed and, as luck would have it, this particular winter has been especially harsh with freezing winds and snow.”

Having been exposed to additional wear-and-tear by the elements, some of the trompes have clearly stood the test of time and weather better than others.

Mounted on marine plywood, the damage to some of the paintings seems to occur mainly on the bottom sections just above street level.

But Tony Cerexhe said work was already taking place to repair any damaged artwork.

And he said he was confident one of Knaresborough’s most popular visual features would be restored to good health for the long-term benefit of the town.

Tony said: “We are primed for the work that is needed more than usual to bring them into tip top condition in time for this year’s feva” festival.

“Feva are well aware that the Tromp L’oeil are in need of some remedial action and I understand the trompe l’oeil artist Peter Kearney is already undertaking the task on artwork at Knaresborough railway station.

He also said he was optimistic thatsuitable new storage would be found to avoid any repetition of the artworks’ current deterioration and safeguard their future.