Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 17:50 UK

Mixed reaction over toilet duck art in Seahouses

Eider duck at Seahouses
The artwork will be in place for five months

An arts project on the walls of a public toilet in Northumberland has provoked a mixed reaction among those in the community.

The exterior of the lavatory in the coastal village of Seahouses has been revamped with huge images of seabirds.

Parish councillor Bill Weekes said his initial reaction was one of "horror".

The artwork has been created by visual artist Stuart Mugridge who said he hoped it would encourage people to think about the area they live in.

Two 8ft (2.4m) tall images of an eider duck and yellowhammer will welcome visitors for the next five months.

Mr Weekes said: "I certainly wish the ducks a speedy return to their native habitat and a restoration of the walls to their traditional redbrick format.

"I can't see the village being improved by slapping up plastic sheeting on what was a traditionally built building."

The project has been developed by Inspire Northumberland and the Seahouses Development Trust (SDT) with support from the Rural Development Programme for England.

'Interesting place'

Graeme Cooper, project officer for SDT said the artwork has provoked an "interesting" reaction.

"We hope local people will be encouraged to think and talk about the general state of central Seahouses," he said.

"The fact that people have a positive or a negative reaction is a good thing, it gets people talking either way. We like it. We think its colourful."

The featured birds were chosen for a specific reason with the the eider duck symbolising the sea and the yellowhammer representing the land.

Mr Mugridge said: "Seahouses is an interesting place to work and visit that has evolved down the years, with its contrast of heritage, wildlife and working harbour.

"I hope my work generates a genuine public response and will get people to stop and think about their personal surroundings."

Franz Strasser

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