WATCH: ITV News Meridian’s Rachel Hepworth went to see the lobster mural
A huge lobster mural has been painted on a wall near Southampton to celebrate the Solent’s rare and vibrant marine wildlife.
The colossal crustacean, measuring roughly seven meters wide and two meters high, adorns the River Hamble Harbor Master’s Office in Warsash.
The mural is the last of six sea creatures painted by street artist ATM, who teamed up with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to shine a light on the wildlife found in the south coast’s waters.
The artist’s first mural of a spider crab at Hythe Pier near Southampton was completed in June 2021 and was followed by a gigantic, 10-metre-long thresher shark at the Langstone Harbor Office on Hayling Island, plus a short-snouted seahorse located on the Ocean Car Park in Southampton.
Two artworks were also designed on the Isle of Wight, with a harbor seal painted beside the Lord Louis Library in Newport and a spiny seahorse on the Isle of Wight Distillery in Ryde.
ATM, who is known nationally for his nature-inspired art, said: “In my paintings I want to capture the essence of what makes these species so special and unique and I use my artistic inspiration to capture the spirit and special qualities of each species .
“I hope people become inspired and care more about the wildlife in their area and by generating curiosity, I hope my art encourages a desire to protect marine habitats.”
Each mural was painted freehand and took the artist up to four days to complete with the subject of each chosen via a public vote online.
The Trust worked with the artist as part of its Secrets of the Solent project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Despite being an extremely busy shipping lane and a major hub for recreational water-based activities, the Solent is internationally important for wildlife.
Each year, up to 125,000 migratory birds flock to the Solent’s coastlines while its patchwork of marine habitats hosts rare and unusual species from sharks, dolphins and seals to cuttlefish, seahorses and jellyfish.
Dr Tim Ferrero, the Trust’s senior marine biologist, said: “Within our Secrets of the Solent project, one of our key aims is to celebrate the marine wildlife and habitats of the Solent.
“We really want to engage people with marine wildlife and these murals introduce people to some important marine species and remind people the Solent is a fantastic habitat with some remarkable wildlife.
“We’d really love people to seek out these murals, maybe try to visit each one, take a picture and share it on social media so we can get an idea that people are enjoying the artwork and understanding what we’re trying to do with Secrets of the Solent.
“The murals also form part of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s vision for a wilder Solent. We want to bring back more wildlife and encourage the regrowth and restoration of marine habitats.”
The exact location of the six murals can be found on the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust website, along with more information about the Secrets of the Solent project, at hiwwt.org.uk/secrets-of-the-solent
DETAILS ABOUT THE SIX MURALS:
Spider crab, Hythe Pier, Southampton
This orange, spindly-legged crustacean was ATM’s first mural of the series, completed in June 2021. The artist included some green algae, which the animal uses for camouflage, on the crab’s back to ‘make it look alive’. The art measures approximately 2.4mx 2.4m.
Short-snouted seahorse, Ocean Village, Southampton
Found in shallow waters and often among seagrass meadows, this is one of two UK seahorse species. The enormous mural, which ATM completed in April this year, is painted on the side of the Ocean Car Park.
Lobster, River Hamble Harbor Master’s Office, Warsash
This striking lobster adorns the harbor office in Warsash and was the last of ATM’s six paintings, completed this May. Common lobsters are naturally blue in colour, only turning bright red when cooked. The art measures approximately 7m x 2m.
Thresher shark, Langstone Harbor Office Building, Hayling Island
These mysterious ocean predators visit the Isle of Wight’s east coast every summer. The large, migratory sharks use their huge whip-like tail, which can be as long as their body, to stun their prey. The art measures approximately 10m x 2m.
Spiny seahorse, Isle of Wight Distillery, Ryde
This special mural celebrates both a rare marine animal and its internationally important coastal habitat, seagrass. Spiny seahorses, also known as long-snouted seahorses, anchor themselves to seagrass leaf blades using their prehensile tail. The art measures approximately 8m x 2.5m.
Harbor seal, Lord Louis Library, Newport
Painted on the wall adjacent to Newport’s library, the harbor seal is clearly a popular marine mammal. ATM said this painting attracted more public engagement than any other mural he has ever created. The art measures approximately 5m x 2m.