AN ARTIST has spoken of the honour of working on a charity art event after rubbing shoulders with celebrities during an action-packed career.

Paul Karslake, 60, from Leigh, was asked to join the hare charity art trail in aid of Fair Havens Hospice.

About 30 1.6m high hare statues are being decorated by emerging and amateur artists each with an individual design.

The eye-catching charity project, launched in conjunction with the Echo, also involves event-based firm, Wild in Art.

The south Essex artist said: “I started out working with my dad as a architectural model maker and I hated it.

“Then one day I found an air brush - my dad couldn’t get on with it at all, but I loved it.

“In the 1970s I did a lot of street art work and lots of work based around motor racing.

“I worked on helmets and with stars such as motorcycle racer, Barry Sheene MBE and stunt performer Eddie Kidd OBE.

“I then moved into more posh art works and projects, including work for Gordon Ramsey.

“I went bit more canapes than bike helmets.

“It was more up-market than my previous works.

“I then started a custom guitar firm with my son called, K and J Custom Guitars.

“We’ve worked with the likes of Brian May, from Queen, and film star Steve McQueen.

“I’ve met lots of famous people and don’t get star struck.

“I was in and out of the showbusiness world when my sister Jo was married to Ronnie Wood, from The Rolling Stones.

“I realised they were all just normal people who got a lucky break.”

The artist said he has also worked with the likes of Peter Townshend, from The Who with custom guitar work.

He recalls meeting film star Jack Nicholson - and the lasting impression the actor had on him.

Mr Karslake said: “Jack Nicholson was pretty intimidating and I don’t usually feel like that.

“I was so impressed with him - I think more than anyone else.

“He was just himself and turned up to read his lines for the films.”

The painted hare sculptures are popping up in and around Southend seafront, Southend High Street and at other “history and cultural” hidden gems in the town, for the art trail.

When the exhibition concludes, each of the hares will be auctioned off to raise cash for the hospice.

The Leigh artist painted the first hare for the project and was inspired by his home town.

Mr Karslake said it was an honour to be involved in the project.

He joked that organisers could not get anyone for the event.

He said: “The trail is making a big impression and around the town.

“It’s causing quite a bit of excitement, which is great to see.

“I feel like I was like the end and final choice to take part.

“They contacted me and asked if I could do it and said yes and just cracked on with it.

“At first I was unsure about what I would be doing for the painting and thought what am I going do with.

“I then decided to go with a nice face and wanted to see what would happen with the rest of the hare.

“I went with a nice sunset, there was a nice moment when I was out walking and I took a picture and used it.

“I added the silhouettes of the boats and it has really worked.

“The end result is ethereal and that was not intended.

“I just messed about with it but am pleased with the end result.

“I think it is a very interesting event.”

In June, a glitzy launch event was held at Royal Hotel, High Street, Southend, and was supported by celebrities and VIPs was held to kickstart the creative fundraising campaign.

The Royal Hotel, High Street, Southend hosted the event.

The hares will later be auctioned off at the Cliffs Pavilion on September 23 next year in aid of Havens Hospices.

The launch event welcomed special celebrity guest Jo Wood, former wife of the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Southend’s mayor John Lamb celebrated with noted artist Paul Karslake and unveiled the launch hare, named Leporum Fisher.

Leporum is Latin for hare and fisher because of the sunset fishing scene painted on him.

This was then followed by a call for artists to create the works to support the new adult hospice.

For more, visit