A locksmith has turned artist after decorating his shop front with 10,000 keys set in unusual and intricate patterns. Taking two years to weld and mould precise keys of all shapes and sizes onto the front panels of his New York store, owner Phil Mortillaro has made a tribute to the famously arty past of Greenwich Village.

Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s spiralling painted patterns, like his ‘Starry Night’ work, Mr Mortillaro, 60, also owes a debt to Jackson Pollock for the meandering nature of some of the key designs.

Work of art: Phil Mortillaro’s key cutting shop in Greenwich Village in New York. Ten thousand keys decorate the front of the shop in intricate spiral patterns.

Buying keys from wreckers and salvagers for around a dollar a pound, Mr Mortillaro’s Greenwich Locksmiths has become part of the trail for tourists re-tracing the steps of the Beatniks and 1960’s pop stars like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

Mr Mortillaro photographed in his key-cutting shop in Greenwich Village

‘There is no art like this going on in Greenwich anymore the way that it used to,” said Mr Mortillaro, who has lived in the famous district of Manhattan all his life. “I wanted to leave a mark here in New York City and I am pleased that people have begun to take notice of my small shop.”

Now, where did I put my keys… The patterns resemble Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Working out of his 125-square-foot shop for over thirty years, Mr Mortillaro has seen Greenwich transform from a hive of artistic life to a gentrified haven for Manhattan’s rich and famous. “People are always passing by and staring into the store,” he said. “It took me two years to attach the keys to the shop front, but adding to the atmosphere of the area is something that I am proud of. It is nice to be a Greenwich Village institution.”
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