Sheringham’s inspiring community artist
Known for his magnificent murals and wonderful personality, Colin Seal has brightened lives and locations across North Norfolk. KL Magazine discover his incredible story...
KL Magazine: What inspired you to become an artist?
Colin Seal: I started out as a signwriter when I left school, which fuelled my passion for art and creativity. I’ve had lots of other jobs too as I never wanted to do the same thing all the time. I’ve been a signwriter, a bus conductor, an elevator operator and even worked on steam engine footplates. I love a challenge!
KL Magazine: What have been the most interesting parts of your career?
Colin Seal: After getting married, my wife and I emigrated to the United States for 16 years. I started doing art there on a larger scale and spent a lot of time painting stylised buses for Disney and other companies. I led a successful career in America as I invented a technique of painting artwork on to bus windows without obscuring the passengers view. I was one of the first people in the world to cover an entire bus in advertising and transport authorities went on to use my techniques all over the country!
KL Magazine: What brought you to Sheringham?
Colin Seal: My wife eventually wanted to return to the UK and I suggested Sheringham as it’s somewhere I’d always loved as a child. My aunt once lived there and so did my parents – and it’s full of history and character. I’ve worked hard to contribute to this over the years by taking part in community events, supporting Sheringham Carnival and founding the annual Scira Viking Festival.
KL Magazine: What are your best known local works?
Colin Seal: I’m best known for my murals in Sheringham. The first one I did was a timeline of the town’s history on the sea wall. I’ve also painted characters taken from a black and white photograph outside the museum, a steam locomotive near the station, depictions of local crafts like boatbuilding and more. I also work on signs for shops, props for local events and displays for Sheringham Museum. If someone gives me a challenge I will find a way to complete it; I often say ‘I’m just a man who can’t say no.’
I was one of the first people in the world to cover an entire bus in advertising
KL Magazine: What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
Colin Seal: Being a community artist. When I’m painting I encourage people to interact, ask questions and even paint with me. The pebbles on the mural outside the museum were each painted by individual people, the same goes for the poppies surrounding my engine mural. The joy that art brings is much more important than the pieces themselves, I love communicating with people and getting them to try things they’ve never done before.
KL Magazine: What is your favourite artwork you’ve created?
Colin Seal: My favourite work is always my latest piece, whatever that may be, as each project is unique and exciting. There’s always something different to do and new challenges to take on.
KL Magazine: Why do you enjoy using your artwork to enrich Sheringham Museum?
Colin Seal: What I love about painting at the museum is that my art is not the central feature, the focus is on the artefacts and I’m helping to bring their stories to life. I’ve done everything from painting coastal scenes, fisherfolk and exhibition displays to creating a replica high street and war memorial. Art is all about storytelling really; I love to see people taking photographs and reading into the history of my work.
KL Magazine: What have you been working on recently?
Colin Seal: I have founded an organisation called SCAP (Sheringham Community Art Projects) to encourage individuals of all ages to take part in local creative projects and realise their potential. We have recently been working on a series of art installations depicting the area’s ‘deep history.’ One will show a number of life-sized mammoths and other animals extending along the seafront and other pieces are planned to showcase Sheringham’s fascinating past. It’s a huge project but an exciting one. My biggest and best challenge yet.
To find out more about the inspiring Colin Seal and the remarkable work of SCAP please visit www.sheringhamcommunityartprojects.com
IMAGES: © Gareth Gabriel at The Studio Sheringham.