VISITORS to a Birchwood opticians now have an extra reason to look around the store.

Because the walls are covered in the work of a group of talented artists.

AH Mertons, based in Birchwood Shopping Centre, has filled an empty wall in its unit with a variety of paintings and drawings from members of a community art group in Fearnhead.

Store manager James Houlihan suggested the idea after one of the artists came in for an appointment.

He said: “We had something similar in one of our branches in Yorkshire.

“I spoke to some professional artists but when I heard about this group, it seemed to fit.

“Not only can they have their work displayed, but we can pass on details of the group to anybody who comes into the shop who may be interested.”

A formal launch of the exhibition took place on Thursday, but the work has been up since December and one painting has already been sold.

Ray Wellings runs the group which has been going for 12 years.

It meets on Monday and Thursday afternoon with more than 20 members.

Originally set up by the council, it is now run entirely by volunteers.

And Ray says it is it about more than paintbrushes and paints.

“We have all sorts of people involved from people who liked it in school but then were too busy with work until they retired to people who have never painted before,” he added.

“But it is also a social thing. It helps to get people meeting others. A lot of the group now socialise away from the group and some are here before our sessions start.”

If you are interested in joining, the group meets at Padgate Scout Hut, close to Padgate station, on Mondays and Thursdays between 1.30pm and 4pm and anyone is welcome to drop in.