Melville bar forced to cover up nude art

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A WEST End watering hole has been forced to cover up an eye-catching nude painting – after distracted drinkers kept slipping while ogling it.

The unusual case of censorship came after managers at The Melville bar in William Street realised the saucy image had been a little too successful in turning heads and was causing boozers to miss their footing. A number of customers are believed to have tripped on stairs leading down to the men’s toilets while admiring the canvas.

Anna Mayhew from The Melville bar admires the painting in the stairwell. Picture: Jon Savage

Anna Mayhew from The Melville bar admires the painting in the stairwell. Picture: Jon Savage

Now bar staff have strategically Blu-Tacked fig leaves on to the image to ensure customers’ focus is on the stairs rather than the nude’s “finer points”.Owner Malcolm Gray, who spent a “good few hundred” on the graffiti-inspired work, said no-one had been badly hurt – but added that he wasn’t about to take any chances.

He said: “A few of the guys were making bawdy comments about remembering when their wives looked like that.

“But we also have this older regular – I think it’s been a long time since he’s seen anything like that – and he just couldn’t take his eyes off it.”

Following one awe-inspired stumble too many Malcolm “panicked” and ordered an immediate cover-up. “It didn’t cross my mind that it would create a safety issue. Stairs in a bar are dangerous and the last thing you want is someone tripping and hurting themselves,” he added.

But not wanting to remove or alter the striking image – bought in as part of a major revamp of the bar – he hit upon his novel interpretation of the “fig leaves” idea.

The artist responsible for the striking nude is not surprised so many people have fallen for it.

Rachel Bell, a friend of Mr Gray who has produced commissions for him before, added she was amused by the unforeseen addition to her work. She said: “I can understand why we need to cover up the painting, I mean, it’s not every day you walk into a bar and see a woman painted in her natural form.

“I think it’s quite amusing though that it needs to be censored. I’m surprised more male customers have not been getting in trouble from their wives or girlfriends for staring really.”

She added: “The woman painted is beautiful though so I don’t really blame anyone for taking a second, if not third, glance at her.”