Home, sweet Rome: Painter and decorator recreates Sistine Chapel in EVERY room of his council house
Last updated at 1:17 PM on 12th May 2011
From the outside it looks like a normal, drab sixties house like any other on the terraced street.
But inside, tenant Robert Burns has transformed his rented council home in Brighton into a stunning lookalike of the world-famous Sistine Chapel.
Drawing on his skills as a retired decorator he has spent the last eight years turning his £86-a-week property on the outskirts of the East Sussex town into an astonishing Renaissance-style masterpiece.
Every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with elaborate frescoes inspired by 15th century works by famous Italian painters, complete with gilt-edged nativity scenes and portraits of the Virgin Mary.
Inside his council flat, Robert Burns has created something that represents the Sistine Chapel
The 63-year-old said his labour of love was prompted by the boredom of painting other people's houses in neutral, pastel colours.
he said: 'I spent fifteen years of my working life applying exactly the same shade of magnolia to people's living rooms with a paint roller. You could teach a primate to be a half-decent decorator. I needed a creative outlet.
'One day I saw some photos of the Vatican in Rome and thought, "I could do that'" I never looked back.'
Unable to afford a trip to Italy to look at the original masterpieces, Mr Burns had to recreate the paintings from coffee-table art books bought in jumble sales.
He even used standard DIY-shop emulsion paint, spending hours producing painstaking scale replicas.
his most recent work - a copy of the Sistine Madonna - sits in his study and he thinks it's his best work to date.
Unsuspecting: The terraced house looks like any other on the street
The self-taught artist is not afraid of adding his own modern touches and in the hallway visitors are greeted by a portrait of Jesus with an uncanny resemblance of Russell Brand with a crown of thorns on his head.
Mr Burns said: 'That's no accident. I saw his photo in a newspaper and he was the spitting image of Christ, so I lifted it.
'It's maybe a bit irreverent, but Michaelangelo used real people as models for his angels, so I don't see any harm in it. In fact I wonder whether Russell might want to buy the picture, like a real Renaissance patron?
'I have huge respect for the old Italian masters, but I don't mind making a few changes here and there.
It's taken eight years for Mr Burns to complete the work throughout his house
'I copied a fresco by Carregio in my stairwell which has an eagle in it. But I think his eagle looks more like a turkey than a bird of prey, so I did my own one.'
Four years ago, when his house - then half-finished - first appeared in the papers, the father-of-four caught the eye of a millionaire property tycoon who commissioned him to refurbish the painted ceiling of his crumbling ballroom.
He said: 'That was a great job. It felt like I was was walking in the footsteps of great artists like Rafael, who all earnt their crust by working as glorified decorators.
'Most people nowadays prefer to live in bland, flat-packed homes though. We've lost the art of proper interior decorating.
His work is painted onto plaster so when he and his wife move out they can't take the work with them
Because he has never been able to afford to go to the Sistine, Mr Burns used pictures of the interior of the chapel to help him draw his paintings
'Maybe they should give me my own daytime TV show where I could teach people how to do Renaissance makeovers.
'This may be a council house, but I live in style, like the Pope, or old Italian nobility. If it's good enough for the Medicis, it's good enough for me.'
His wife Linda, 55, said she is her husband's sternest critic. She said: 'I always let him know what I think. He will ask me if a Madonna would look good on a particular wall, or whether the eyebrows are painted on straight.
'I love what he's done with the house. Robert is so talented. He was wasted as a decorator. The only problem is we have begun to realise his life's work is all painted on plaster.
'So if we ever had to move, we couldn't take it with us. And we can't afford to buy the house, so it all belongs to the council.
'It would be heartbreaking if we had to move out. The new tenant might come in with a roller and paint all the walls magnolia.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1386277/Home-sweet-Rome-Painter-decorator-recreates-Sistine-Chapel-EVERY-room-council-house.html#ixzz1M8kQTAiA