Today, the Whitchurch Community Arts Project learned of a very sad loss.
From the project’s designer, John Buckley…

“Without Liam the Whitchurch Art Project, the decoration of the town’s bollards, may not have got off the ground. I was close to throwing in the towel but it was partly Liam’s fresh enthusiasm that helped save it following a sticky patch in its early history. He had been introduced to me as a young artist who had helped the Highways Department on murals in Basingstoke subways and to be honest, I was unsure what to expect.

“When he came over we met in the Square, then discussed the project over a coffee in the White Hart. I remember being excited by his quiet and thoughtful approach, Here was someone who could add a different dimension to the designs I had been anticipating.

Liam testing out paints and lacquers for the first bollards.

“Liam Lyster, with his bag of paints and iPod in ears, was the archetypal ‘young struggling artist’ looking for employment, who had dreams of success in a very difficult sphere. We talked brushes, thinners, paints, sanding…, then I threw him in at the deep end with some ideas for him to develop.

“He went away and came up with a number of designs based on local themes, some of which are still in the pipeline for production. On the next visit he brought lots of different paints and lacquers and there is still a bollard in the corner of Bell Street Car Park which bears witness to some of his experiments. He created the first bollard decoration, which admittedly received mixed reactions, based on Watership Down in the Square, but this really was just another test for the future.

Liam (right) and Simon Found of HCC Highways discuss designs at the bollard launch last year..

“I recall one street corner meeting when we worked together in a spate of rather off-the-wall idea storming and came up with the black and white design near the Surgery. Why? Because in some disorganisation Liam had only brought those colours with him by accident, and some instant creative thinking was needed. Perhaps that will always be Liam’s bollard.

“I was truly shocked when I learned of Liam’s accident – as I was wanting him to progress some of his earlier designs that have been collecting cobwebs because of my own conservatism. When I look at how the art project has progessed I always think of his early involvement and how his calm enthusiasm and freedom of expression helped bring back my own confidence in the concept.
Today when I passed the bollards, I shook.
Liam, will always be ‘the young struggling artist’ and when looking at the bollards he will always be in my thoughts. I just wish I had got to know him better.”

RIP

Liam Lyster tragically died in a car accident aged just 23.
No reason for the accident has been found.

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