IN a hidden away studio in deepest darkest Hove, a group of artists have come together to paint bold and beautiful designs onto snail sculptures.

The result is quite astonishing.

Walking into a room to come face-to-face with tens of giant antennaed creatures is intimidating at first but take a closer look and each one is a unique piece of art in its own right.

United only by their involvement in this project, the artists are sprucing up the otherwise plain white snails in time for the Martlets Hospice Snailspace art installation, which will see 50 of these oversized molluscs coming to the streets of Brighton and Hove in September.

One is meticulously drawing on his snail and painstakingly filling in his detailed designs.

Another has flung paint at hers before carefully decorating it using only her fingers, without so much as a hint of a paintbrush in sight.

Some of the snails are finished, complete with an overcoat of strong varnish to fend off the elements, while some look days off being done.

The Argus spoke to a few of the artists about their experiences of the project so far and what the concept of ‘be more snail’, Martlets’s tagline for the campaign, means to them.

Jenny Leonard, an artist who lives in London, has created a colourful and bright Brighton nighttime scene on her snail’s shell.

She said: “It has taken me three and a half days but I have loved working here as there is such a strong sense of community.

“I like the ‘be more snail’ concept, it ties in with mindfulness and a slower pace of life which is also why I like Brighton so much.”

Charlotte and Dan Doherty, of Brighton-based street art team Art and Believe, have based their design on their travels to South America and have named it Inca Snail.

Dan said: “We see the spiral of the shell as a journey.

“The snail is a bit like a backpacker but carrying its home on its back instead.

“We have used an intricate pattern like you’d find in textiles but blown it up so it is bold.”

Charlotte said: “This project has been really good fun so far, there is good energy here and the designs are all so different.

“I think ‘be more snail’ means chilling out, slowing down and taking control of your wellbeing.

“It’s a good message, rather than rushing and going mad it’s important to take care of yourself.

“When we travelled for example, we stopped in places for a while to paint with local people.”

Tina Davies, a Brighton-based painter and potter, is hard at work on her poppy field scene.

She said: “The poppy is a symbol of remembrance and also the fragility of life which I thought worked well with what the Martlets charity does.

“But poppies also plant their own seeds and are strong flowers so it’s a symbol of nurturing children and resilience too.

“It is amazing watching all the snails come together, there’s so much talent.

“I have just started a mindfulness course so the ‘be more snail’ message resonates with me a lot.

“When I paint I don’t want to be using my mind too much.”

Children’s illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, who lives in Brighton, has come up with a design to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the books he drew the pictures for, Giraffes Can’t Dance.

He said: “It is going to be brilliant to see them all together when they’re finished.

“I usually use watercolours so I’ve had to find my way with acrylics.

“With the schools decorating their small snails as well, Snailspace is a celebration of art with lots of people getting involved.

“I think being more snail is essential to health and sanity, I see it as mindfulness and staying in the moment a bit more.”

The artists will finish their snails by the end of this month, ready for their arrival onto the streets on September 15.