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Norfolk's white van artist Ruddy Muddy steps forth

PUBLISHED: 15:54 15 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:53 16 October 2017

Artist Ruddy Muddy.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Artist Ruddy Muddy. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

His emotive, often inspiring artworks have graced the backs of white delivery vans for 11 years.

The muddy van artwork in support of the EDP/Norwich Evening News campaign to keep Britvic and Unilever's Norwich factories open. It was done by Ricky Minns, aka 'Ruddy Muddy'. Sign writer Lynsey Cole, known as Damsel Dragonfly, contributed the lettering. Picture: Courtesy Ricky MinnsThe muddy van artwork in support of the EDP/Norwich Evening News campaign to keep Britvic and Unilever's Norwich factories open. It was done by Ricky Minns, aka 'Ruddy Muddy'. Sign writer Lynsey Cole, known as Damsel Dragonfly, contributed the lettering. Picture: Courtesy Ricky Minns

But it is only recently that Ricky Minns, also known as ‘Ruddy Muddy’, has got use to the spotlight.

The 42-year-old, who still lives in the house where he grew up in Wicklewood, said he was surprised as anyone at the interest the designs had spurred.

Mr Minns said: “The reaction has been fantastic. The hardest thing has been the amount of requests - I want to do something for everyone but there’s just not enough time.

“Pop stars are really popular, as well as films when a new release comes out. As soon as I do one of a particular style, I tend to get a lot more requests for similar things.

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

“I did one of Ed Sheeran around the time his new album came out, and soon after that the interest just exploded.”

Mr Minns took A-Level arts courses at Wymondham College, and later studied particle physics and cosmology at Swansea University.

He started doing art on vans shortly after he started working for Bowthorope-based flower outlet Flowervision 11 years ago.

He said: “I used to doodle little mountain scenes, nothing that took too long. Then I did a Venice scene, the Eiffel Tower and then a big battleship. The more I did the more people started to pay attention.”

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

Mr Minns has had messages about his artworks from people around the world. He said he was pleased the designs prompted people to take a different view of art.

Mr Minns said: “It shows that art can done just for the sake of doing art, rather than it being about making money.

“The main time you hear about art nowadays is when a painting sells for so many million, but this doesn’t do that. It’s very transient and it’s just there to make people smile.”

Until about a year ago he could only work over the winter months when he van got ‘naturally’ muddy.

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

But Mr Minns has since discovered a way to apply mud evenly, creating a perfect canvas that he can work with year round.

His designs can take up to a full day to create, and he has averaged one new design a week so far this year.

Mr Minns’ partner, Lynsey Cole, is a professional sign writer, and she has started adding lettering to the designs, signing them with her artistic name, Damsel Dragonfly.

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

Muddy marvellous designs

The designs created by Norfolk’s ‘van’ Gough, Ricky Minns have covered a wide range of subjects.

Some have stirred deep feelings, such as a tribute to serviceman Aaron ‘Troy’ McClure, who was killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago.

There was also a tribute to TV legend Sir Bruce Forsyth after he died in August, complete with his famous catchphrase, ‘Nice to have seen you, to have seen you nice.’ Other subjects have included Norwich City manager Daniel Farke, Winne-the-Pooh and the latest Fast and the Furious film.

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

Mr Minns said: “I get a lot of requests for pop stars - everyone has their favourite.

“I’ve found the easiest way to handle that is to do two or three at once and keep more people happy.”

Last week, Mr Minns created a special design in support of the Eastern Daily Press/Norwich Evening News campaign to keep Colman’s and Britvic in Norfolk after plans to close their factories were announced.

White van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky MinnsWhite van art by Wicklewood's Ricky Minns, aka Ruddy Muddy. Picture: Courtesy of Ricky Minns

Artist Ruddy Muddy.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYArtist Ruddy Muddy. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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