Meet the men behind the pebble art creations that have wowed Southsea beach goers

The Stona Lisa
The Stona Lisa
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WHILE the sun may have been in short supply recently a new attraction has been drawing people to the city’s beaches – pebble art. 

Art teacher Justin Bateman and friend and fellow artist, Tony Brooks, 38, have been using a unique style of art to create their own versions of the iconic paintings of The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer.

Tony Brooks (left) and Justin Bateman with their pebble creation The Stona Lisa.

Tony Brooks (left) and Justin Bateman with their pebble creation The Stona Lisa.

The first piece, The Stona Lisa, was constructed on Southsea beach using nothing but different sized and coloured pebbles.

Justin said: ‘One of the key features of our art is to create an impermanent image and to ensure the site was returned to its original state. The images were created entirely from pebbles with no colours being used. We would collect pebbles from the beach and sort them into up to 16 sets of different colours and tones. After planning the image at home we would then return to the beach and piece the pebbles together to create the image.’

The idea for the pebble art originated from many hours of discussion on the beach and from the creative ideas used by Justin to engage his students at Fareham College.

‘I am always looking for different ways to make art interesting for my students and had previously used this technique with them,’ said Justin. ‘I would often take students into the woods and use the materials there to create land art. After deciding on the concept, the expertise for some of the more technical aspects were provided by Tony. We decided on the beach as it doesn’t have the constraints of an art gallery.’

The beach creation of the Girl with a Pebble earring.

The beach creation of the Girl with a Pebble earring.

After the success of The Stona Lisa the second image, named the Girl with a Pebble Earring, was created on the Hot Walls beach using the same technique. The art once again generated great interest from other beach users.

Justin said: ‘There has been an unbelievable reaction from the public and the art seems to really resonate with the local community. We normally stay with the creations for up to eight hours and once we go it is brilliant to see local children collecting pebbles and adding to the design.’