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Blue Vale Structures – Board Room Mural

28 March, 2019

Blue Vale Structures in Glasgow are a facade retention and building clearance specialists. They have been in the same building in the East End of Glasgow for decades and are one of the main employers in the area, working or some major players on high profile projects throughout Scotland. 

 

 

They wanted to smarten up their board room and bring some fresh horizons to the space, the brief being that it had to add depth and interest to the room, reflect their Glasgow heritage but not be gaudy. There are big money deals done in the room so it had to look classy. 

We decided to do a greatest hits of Glasgow architecture, I did them a drawing and was three days on site producing the mural.

The painting had a very limited palette, just a shot of orange on the Duke of Wellingtons cone hat for a bit of humour. 

On this job i was also asked to do a bit of copywriting, i came up with a new motto for the company that reflected what they did and rendered it under the mural. i think the current plan is to start using the motto on the side of their trucks now too. I have plenty of time to think about things like this when I’m painting. 

The new space has the classy feel they were after and is making them look classy, affluent and forward thinking. Fingers crossed it helps Blue Vale go from strength to strength.

Categories: Art, Murals

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Capita Mural on Morrison Street

28 March, 2019

In February of 2019 i was approached by Capita to paint a new mural for the front of their building. 

They had been having an ongoing problem with taggers which had cost them a huge amount in redecoration, eventually they decided to just get some street art. 

The lobby in the building had an Edinburgh vista so they decided they wanted to continue that into the street. i gave them a drawing and three colour options and they chose the sunset version. 

There was much excitement in the area when I started, though I think the neighbours thought I was just painting a blobby abstract. they told me in no uncertain terms they were following daily progress however and were happy the street was getting smartened up. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Eventually the details of the buildings started to take shape however and the plan was revealed. 

There was actually very little white in this painting ,I wanted a really golden feel to the mural. 

 

Passers by and neighbours seemed to really like the final outcome and Capita themselves are delighted. Justine who got us in went out of her way to put us on the main site for the company and we already have anther commission coming out of this one. Great to leave happy customers my wake. 

 

Categories: Art

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Thistle Street: Art On The Street Event

9 May, 2018

Chris talking to Thistle Street visitors about his epic Tam o’Shanter mural.

Bringing Art to Thistle Street

Recently I was approached by the Thistle Street Residents Committee to help with ‘Art on the Street’, a new public event celebrating the central Edinburgh street. Planned in 1767 as part of James Craig’s design and named after the national flower of Scotland, Thistle Street’s current residents and businesses wanted to create a unique Bank Holiday Monday experience that showcased all that the Georgian street has to offer.

Visitors walking past the Hogmanay mural installed on Thistle Street.

For me, Thistle Street seemed like the perfect place to show a selection of my Scottish-themed murals. Some of these paintings are so big that they need an extremely large wall space in order to appreciate them, and the long stone walls of Thistle Street offered the perfect opportunity to do this.

The Porteous Riot mural installed on Thistle Street.

A Hook for Bank Holiday Monday

At an early planning meeting it was clear that residents and businesses alike were excited at the prospect of a vibrant new event on the street. Plans were afoot to bring music and art to the event, but as a dad myself, I felt that content and activities for children was a wee bit lacking. In order for families to want to visit, I knew that there needed to be a “hook”, and with this in mind, I came up with the bright idea of a colouring event for the children. I have a lot of previous experience working with kids on large scale projects, and so I came up with the idea of having them chalk the streets, but with enough structure and focus that the drawings were appropriate for the event.

Chris applying washable chalk spray paint to one of his large scale transfers, which children could colour in later.

 

 

I designed some large scale Celtic shields – massive stencils that I could apply to the street with temporary chalk spray and which would create a long border down the road. We then successfully trialled it at an open studios event at Custom House, using the alley behind our studio and coaxing young visitors to take part.

Single board painting “Cannon” outside Thistle Sandwich Bar on Thistle Street.
Grassmarket Penny Farthing painting adding atmosphere to Thistle Street.

On the morning of the event I lined the street with a number of my board murals. We were blessed with extraordinarily gorgeous weather and no wind, so we took advantage of this with metres of murals placed against the Georgian stone buildings.

The epic murals are dwarfed by the Georgian stone buildings of Thistle Street.

My Tam o’Shanter mural (which consists of 8 boards measuring a total of 22 metres long by 2 metres high) and the massive Hogmanay mural (the entire image is 22 metres long by 2 metres high) were put at either end of the street to set the scene. In the middle of the length of Thistle Street I curved my Maggie Dickson mural like a small stage, and throughout the day I told Maggie’s lurid story to interested passersby. Peppered along the street were other counterpoint murals, including the 1736 Porteous Riots, and several pirate paintings.

Chris installing his Maggie Dickson mural on Thistle Street in the morning. The double-sided historical mural can be exhibited in a variety of ways, creating an amphitheatre-like set up, perfect for storytelling.

The chalk colouring project was a big success with waves of children getting stuck in (while their relieved parents enjoyed a seat on the sunny side of the street) and the cobbled streets looked resplendent by the end of the day.

A view from one of the upper flats on Thistle Street showing the temporary chalk murals created by visiting children during the event.

As well as me, the street was filled with other artists and their work. In particular, the nearby Edinburgh Drawing School set up shop and had a live drawing class where visitors of all ages could get some hands-on teaching in the sunshine.

Children working on the street murals with large sticks of chalk.
Visitors enjoying the sunshine and interactive art projects available during the Bank Holiday Monday event on Thistle Street.

There was also a range of live music filtering through the street, which provided added further ambience, and the passersby, visitors and residents alike thoroughly enjoyed the pop up mural trail and the day in the sun.

Piper James MacDonald Reid playing Czech bagpipes during the Thistle Street event.
Chris telling the lurid story of “Half-Hangit Maggie” Dickson to Thistle Street visitors.

Categories: Art, Murals, Scotland

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The craic is back

30 January, 2018


Malones bars are something of an institution, known throughout Scotland and further afield for their party atmosphere and traditional Irish craic. The Irish love of partying goes down very well in Scotland; we are cousins in that regard.

Old into new

Malones previous location in Edinburgh shut down some time ago and the owners had been waiting for the right venue to become available in order to relaunch in the Scottish capital. In the meantime they kept a local foothold with a number of pop-up venues, but late in 2017 they bought Edinburgh institution Diane’s Pool Hall near Haymarket station. After decades of running the legendary pool hall Diane decided to retire, leaving the much loved two-storey corner space open to new opportunities. On a personal note, I’ve been playing pool in Diane’s for more than twenty years and really loved the place, and so I was sorry to see it go. But I was delighted to receive the call from Malones and to help make this new incarnation a really special place was the best thing I could do.

Craic and Ceol

The venue is ideally placed to take advantage of the ongoing revamp of the Haymarket area and the plan was to create an authentic Irish bar atmosphere, with a smaller bar downstairs and a larger music venue and gastropub upstairs. 

Malones needed me to contribute to a number of zones in the bar, providing feature artwork that would create atmosphere and excitement. The two initial critical areas mentioned were the brick wall behind the new main stage and the staircase leading up from the bottom bar.

I arrived on site in early January 2018 and though it was still a building site in full flow, I knew it was important to get a foot in the door and get on with it; from experience if you want to hit a deadline you panic early enough. However, in order to make the job possible I had to work a night shift throughout the month as I was working in the staircase – the main thoroughfare for the site. To avoid getting in the way of the dozens of joiners, plumbers and electricians who constantly needed access up and down the stairs, I frequently turned up at around 6pm and worked till 5am. 

Down With This Sort Of Thing

The staircase needed to be Irish-themed but Malones were keen to avoid worn-out stereotypes like leprechauns and shamrocks. We decided to produce a large scale ‘Father Ted’ mural; a television series that I love and that is universally popular throughout the UK. I knew that if I painted it right, customers to the pub would all come in with a big smile on their face. The most intimidating part for me was the initial drawing on paper. I sketched it over Christmas and then cleaned and primed the walls before starting painting the mural.

The builders were more than a little surprised at how fast it started coming together. We covered lots of the most famous scenes from the show.

• Dougal learns about ‘this is small / these are far away’.

• The Eurovision Song Contest entry ‘My lovely horse’

• Kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse

• The priests getting trapped in the lingerie department

 

I also included large scale portraits of fan favourites Mrs Doyle and Father Jack; all this and plenty of smaller details that would keep the most committed of fans happy.

For the main room upstairs I produced the new stage artwork in one long 15 hour shift. After first creating the design on paper, I then hand painted it on the bare brick wall using a digital projector for speed and convenience. The final result has a warm, inviting and authentic feeling; it feels like it has always been there and on opening night it went down very well.

 

Following the success of the stairwell mural and the stage design I was also asked to provide further artwork for some other areas.

Downstairs the builders had uncovered some original bifold doors that had been sealed away for decades. Eventually the plan is to reinstate the windows, but as planning permission may take some months Malones needed something authentic and Irish to fill the glazing spaces. With Guinness’s permission I recreated one of their classic advertising posters for the space. Guinness were quite firm that they wanted an exact copy, but as these are classic illustrations it was an honour to oblige. The greatest compliment was that a number of customers thought the paintings were original and had just been found behind the wall.

In addition to this Malones Marketing Manger Aoibhinn Cullen asked me to paint a feature picture for the ladies’ toilets, illustrating the classic Guinness caption ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’. It has been put in the lobby of the girls’ toilets and it does a good job to dilute the Father Jack painting lurking at the door.

All this artwork was produced over the course of around a fortnight in the midst of a building site, with dust, rubble, and workmen littered around the place. However as opening night approached, the full extent of Malones plans became apparent. In addition to commissioning my pictures they had been very busy sourcing vintage items in auctions and antique shops throughout Ireland. Towards the end of the job they brought huge amounts of antique prints, signs, mirrors and objects, that when placed throughout the venue made a huge difference to the space. When opening night came, the transformation from dusty building site to stunning party venue was instant and shockingly effective.

Press

The project has been garnering a lot of press both here in Scotland and across in Ireland – according to various comments on social media, Malones Edinburgh is already on the fans’ drinking map for the next Six Nations Championship!

Newsletter: “Bar unveils giant mural tribute to Father Ted”
Belfast TelegraphPaint the town Ted – bar’s tribute to Father Ted with huge mural”
Buzz.ie: “A pub in Edinburgh has just revealed a 28-meter-long Father Ted mural”

Irish Central: “Edinburgh pub unveils massive mural in honor of “Father Ted””
Irish Post: “Paint the town Ted – New Irish pub opens with amazing 28-metre mural tribute to Father Ted”
Edinburgh Evening News: In pictures: Edinburgh bar unveils giant mural tribute to Father Ted

Malones have been a joy to work with; their collective will to achieve quality and open the venue on time was really impressive and all done with Irish goodwill and spirit. The next step is to extend the Father Ted mural to the bottom of the stairs and there are plans for more branding and pictures throughout the bar. I can’t wait to see how the bar develops. With the gang’s attitude and drive, I know it’s going to be a big success.

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The Wedding Present

13 November, 2017

Carole and Stan’s wedding

I have been a friend of Carole Racionzer for some time now and several years ago she also bought my 2012 portrait of my cousin Anna Rendall playing the cello.

The first painting of mine that Carole bought; a portrait of my cousin playing the cello.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was delighted to learn that she was getting married to Stan in 2017, and when she asked if I could paint a picture as her main wedding present I was happy to help. The idea was that instead of her guests buying wine glasses or kitchen paraphernalia as presents, as a unique and personal alternative they could all chip in for a custom painting. I have long thought that many wedding photographs end up being quite formal, posed and lacking in soul. A party painting like the ones I am known for could provide a lasting memento of the day and it would also reflect the life and joy of their wedding celebration. 

Stan and Carole on their wedding day. This scene formed the initial focus of the painting.
Chris and Carole at the beginning of the reception, as the painting starts to take shape. Chris’s Hogmanay mural helped create a party ambience in the background, and also helped guests understand what the painting would eventually become.


I decided to paint portraits of all the wedding guests as well as the main wedding party. Carole and Stan hosted their ceremony at Archerfield House in East Lothian, with a handfasting ceremony led by a Humanist minister and their guests arranged around them. It was decided that I would make a picture of that scene and build it on a circular canvas that reflected the shape of the ceremony. I gathered reference photos of the happy couple during the ceremony and then took pictures of as many wedding guests as I could get to pose at the time. I then went down to the reception venue and started the painting in full view of the guests. Throughout the day this painting process provided unique on-site entertainment for the wedding guests; I painted the main wedding party first, starting with the bride and groom before painting Carole’s daughters, the best man, the matron of honour, and the parents of the happy couple. People of all ages are fascinated by the process and the openness of how I do it, and wedding guests were constantly hovering around the easel, watching my progress. 

Chris took dozens of photographs of the wedding guests, to be painted into the artwork either during the reception or after the event.
The painting underway during the reception. Guests were encouraged to stop by to get their photo taken and to watch the progress.

 

 

To add to the ambience of my workspace, I brought four large boards of crowd scenes from my 2013 Hogmanay painting. This gave the guests an idea of the direction in which the wedding painting was going.

Chris adding portraits to the painting in his studio in Leith, using photo reference collected during the wedding reception.

After the event the picture was taken back to the studio in Leith and the longer process of painting all the guests in began.

Once finished it was popped in a custom-made frame to be presented to Carole and Stan and hung in their Perth home. Job done! 

Categories: Art, Murals

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Building Bridges in South Queensferry

10 October, 2017

Echline Primary School – Queensferry Crossing Mural

South Queensferry, a town ten miles west of Edinburgh and already world famous for its Forth Road and Forth Rail Bridges, entered a new phase in its history in 2017 when a third bridge was built on the Firth of Forth. 

Prepping the palettes for the children to start painting.
Chris sketching out the mural’s outline using reference photos and a paper design.
Chris introducing the project to a new class of children, using the design drawing as reference.

Local school Echline Primary already had an interior bridge mural which had been on site for more than twenty years. It was very well executed, much loved and had stood the test of time, but it was now a bridge short and it was deemed time for a new version. The old mural was careful taken down and hopefully it will be preserved in some form for the school’s archives.

Chris entertaining some of the school children with his witty banter.

The school wanted a crowd mural as they were really inspired by some of my past work, but with the added feature of having the kids helping to build it. 

The mural starts to take shape; laid out on the floor for a better overview.
The Burry Man, the central figure in South Queensferry’s annual Burryman’s Parade, also features in the mural.

South Queensferry has a famous annual town ‘Ferry Fair’ so I decided to base the mural on that for crowd vibrancy, and have the three bridges in the background. I produced a drawing that would steer the whole project, which was approved by the school ahead of the project launch. 

The Victorian Forth Rail Bridge looms over South Queensferry.
The kids painted themselves into the mural, creating a permanent moment in time for the school and the Queensferry Crossing event.

On the Friday before the mural started, I presented at a school assembly where I introduced myself and my work, and showed the children some of my videos. 

The foreground of the painting focuses on the annual Ferry Fair and features some famous local buildings.
The finished mural installed in the school.
A panoramic view of the finished mural.

During the week of the project I worked with all the children from primary one through primary seven. The idea was that some of the children would paint themselves into the painting while others worked on the buildings and background. The mural evolved throughout the week and I painted alongside the children to help continually steer the picture towards its vision. It was all done and dusted in a week. I heard reports from the teachers that the kids were delighted to work with “Mr Hat”. Many of them learnt top hat spinning as a byproduct of my residency. 

Coverage of the project in the Edinburgh Evening News.

The mural was also featured in an article in the Edinburgh Evening News as part of the school’s celebration of the new bridge. 

Categories: Murals

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Sprucing Up The Three Sisters Student Union 

29 September, 2017

Painting in another historic Edinburgh venue


Last year I spent time painting various spots in The Three Sisters, a famous pub on Edinburgh’s Cowgate. The venue was named after the three Mackinnon sisters Cath, Kitty, and Maggie, famous in the 1740s for gracing Edinburgh stages with their singing, dancing and beauty. It is a large complex of bars, and inside this network of rooms is housed Edinburgh’s Student Union Bar. 

The Three Sisters asked me back this year to further improve the Student Union. This time I took on a tired and bedraggled looking corridor which before I arrived, wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1970s office block. They wanted some new artwork that was very Edinburgh-themed, would energise the space, and had some relevance to the diverse university students who frequent the space. 

 

The main wall in the corridor now has an impressionist vista of Edinburgh with the castle illuminated by the world famous bi-annual fireworks display. 

I took the artwork onto the ceiling as well as the walls in order to give the area an immersive feel. As the scene moved further away from the firework end of the corridor, the idea was to give it a ‘starry night’ / Van Gogh inspired look. The Three  Sisters also had me paint the walls at the far end with notable university buildings from around the city. 

On a completely different theme, The Three Sisters asked me to reflect the Cowgate location of the bar in another mural. The venue is surrounded by a maze of vaulted arches that hold the buildings of the area up, and so I painted a map to the vaults under George IV Bridge with a pop art/brightly coloured feel. 

The whole job was done to deadline in under a week, just after the Edinburgh Festival finished but before the onslaught of students for Freshers Week.

Fingers crossed it will keep the students happy and ultimately lead to increased footfall through the door – always the mark of a successful project for me! 

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Edinburgh Rugby Kyloe Cow On the Moove

28 September, 2017

Continuing collaboration with Kyloe restaurant; painting their life-sized fibreglass cows. 

Chris securing the new Edinburgh Rugby Club cow outside Kyloe restaurant in the West End with Edinburgh Castle in the distance.

Over the years I’ve painted a succession of cows with various themes for Kyloe. We switch over the cows on a regular basis so that they are seasonally relevant and stay fresh for passersby. 

The restaurant has watched the foot traffic outside via their CCTV and estimate that the cow has its photo taken once every two minutes. It functions as a huge social media envoy and doorman for the restaurant, acting as a hook to let people know that the restaurant is there. This is important as the restaurant is a first floor establishment and is only accessible through the Huxley, its sister pub at ground level. 

One of the initial designs for the Edinburgh Rugby Club cow, which was eventually modified in the final execution.

The cows are branded with the restaurant’s logo to help increase the restaurant’s profile on social media and on the street. Kyloe is an award-winning steak restaurant so the cow is bang on theme for the beef aficionado. I take my responsibility in painting this very seriously. The cow’s location is the first thing you see when you step onto Princes Street from the West End, and I think the quality of the paint job that I do should reflect the calibre of Kyloe, the top steak restaurant in Edinburgh.

Working on the cow in the studio.

Kyloe restaurant and The Huxley bar are on the route to Murrayfield Stadium and both have a strong history as a rugby supporting venues; the last cow that I painted was a personal favourite and was ‘Tartan Army’ themed. 

The latest cow celebrates the restaurant’s new sponsorship of Edinburgh Rugby Club. Decked out in the Edinburgh Rugby colours and an Edinburgh Rugby coloured tartan kilt and skull cap, I’ve made it look like a bit of a roughneck. 

Painting the underside of the beast requires a touch of cow-tipping.

Kyloe is also taking on organising the catering in the hospitality tent at Edinburgh Rugby’s home ground Myreside, so in this brief I had to keep both clients happy. 

Hand over of the cows – they are switched on a regular basis to reflect different seasons and events.

The final paint job has gone down very well with the staff and customers, and players from the team have been by a number of times to pose with their biggest supporter. 

Chris and two of the Kyloe cows with Edinburgh Castle in the background.

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Surf’s Up at Glasgow’s Bristol Bar

3 August, 2017

Bristol Bar Beach Party. 

The Bristol Bar in the east end of Glasgow has become one of my regular clients. In 2013 I themed their main bar with an excited Ibrox football crowd mural and I reappear annually to paint more portraits into the picture. Click here to see photos of the Ibrox mural. 

The Bristol Bar owners essentially gave me a large blue canvas box to paint in .

The Bristol Bar is a real party hotspot; they take fun very seriously. In July of 2017 they decided to hold a beach party using a redundant space at the back of the bar which was in need of a face lift. When I arrived owners Greg and Harry had created a sky-blue plywood-clad room as a gigantic canvas for me; the entire space was roughly 9 metres square and 3.6 metres tall. 

Good Vibrations in Glasgow’s East End

Overview of the mural in progress.
Detail showing the mixture of acrylic brush painting, freehand spray and stencil work used to build the mural.

 

 

 

The plan was to paint it in three days…. it turned out to be three very long days!   

The octopus features a dome with Rangers colours and utilises the existing wall light as one of its eyes. 
Surfing hammerhead shark and a great white with the board from an unfortunate Celtic fan.
Classic seaside cut out boards ready for the party.

Over the course of the project I painted a variety of scenes including a monster crab eating an ice cream cone, a parrot stood in front of a Bristol Bar-themed beach hut and a large octopus with a Rangers coloured dome, using the existing wall light as one of the eyes. I also created two cutout boards themed around voluptuous mermaids with holes for customers to poke their heads through. I also painted two large surfing sharks, a hammerhead and a great white. The bar wanted a comical nod to the Rangers rivalry with Celtic so I took a bite sized chunk out of the great white’s board and hung a rogue foot with a Celtic tattoo from the tether, as though the shark had stolen the board from a fan. 

The giant octopus incorporated an existing wall light as one of its eyes.
12 tonnes of sand was added to the room to create a more beachy environment.  
Bristol Bar beach partiers enjoying the brand new space, including the sandy floor! Photo courtesy the Bristol Bar.

The day after I left, 12 tonnes of sand were brought to the bar and installed in the space, followed by the installation of some fake palm trees and as a special treat they added a surf machine. 

Vying for a trip to Thailand on the surf board machine. Photo courtesy the Bristol Bar.

This was then used for a surf competition with the longest rider winning a holiday to Thailand. 

Partiers making good use of the cut outs. Photo courtesy the Bristol Bar.
Bristol Bar staff and friends joining in the sandy fun. Photo courtesy the Bristol Bar.

Plans are afoot to hold more beach parties as the year unfolds and really use the space to its best advantage. We may re-theme the room around different concepts in the future. 

Judging from their Facebook photos, the Bristol Bar really knows how to throw a party! 

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Back to School – New Murals at George Watson’s College

20 July, 2017

George Watson’s College Upper Primary School Murals 

 

In 2016 Junior School Headmaster George Salmond and I began discussing a potential project at George Watson’s College; he was really keen to have murals in the school that reflected the energy and enthusiasm of the current children. The plan was to work with Primary Four through Seven, ideally with all the children participating hands-on in the project. 

A mockup of the World War II evacuees illustration superimposed in the stairwell. 
A mockup of the Viking illustration superimposed above the existing tiles in the stairway.

Drawing directly from the school’s curriculum, each of the year groups were given their own historic theme; the Primary Fours learn about Vikings, the Primary Fives study the Battle of Bannockburn and the Wars of Independence, Primary Six learn about the Jacobite Rising and Primary Seven approach World War II as seen through the eyes of evacuees. 

A mockup of the Jacobites illustration superimposed in the stairwell.

 

A mockup of the Battle of Bannockburn illustration superimposed in the stairwell.

 I have previously done group projects with large amounts of children and I think it’s really important that all the children are involved and that they are empowered to express themselves as a small part of a bigger picture. 

I created four illustrations that would provide clarity and focus to the project, and came up with a plan so that the mural could be built remotely in bite sized chunks by the children and then fastened to the wall at a later date. Working in a school staircase which is also a chief fire escape route had unforeseen complications; understandably strict fire regulations meant that I had to ditch my usual plywood support and buy magnesium oxide fireproof sheet material, and once finished a fire-rated varnish had to be applied. Every day is a school day! 

Chris giving the first of two assemblies to the Upper Primary School, where he introduced the project to the students. At left are some of the boards from his Hogmanay mural.


The project was launched at two special assemblies where I introduced myself and my work, and I showed them my Hogmanay video. I emphasised the ambition and scale of the project but also underlined that the plan was to make all four murals in an incredibly short period of time. The aim was to have them built from scratch and installed in a three week period, dancing around the school timetable and the children were super excited. 

Chris prepping boards in Mr. Briggs’ classroom; at left you can see one of the time lapse cameras which were used throughout the project to capture the progression of the murals. 
Some of the ‘Evacuees’ mural in mid-production in Mr. Briggs’ classroom.

 In week one I was given the use of Mr. Briggs’ primary six classroom which was available while the whole year was away on a trip. Over the course of that week three of the murals had their backs broken. The children were shipped in class by class and though to the untrained eye the production process seemed slightly chaotic, in fact the children were incredibly productive. The focus of the drawings and my urgency for them to visually communicate as fast as possible helped drive the project forward. Throughout the project my studio manager Sheila Masson was on site helping to corral the kids and prep the paint and materials. She has an illustration degree amongst her many skills so is well versed in painting, though at times the energy and craziness of the factory we had set up proved a bit wearing on her. 

Chris explaining correct usage of paint brushes and palettes. This saved countless brushes from being destroyed, aided in more sensitive painting, and helped keep palettes from becoming nondescript vegetable soup. 
Chris demonstrating how to paint chainmail on soldiers in the Battle of Bannockburn mural.


The primary six students were due back from their trip at the end of the first week so we moved the production base out of Mr. Briggs’ classroom and into the art department with the help of a class full of strong-looking primary sevens. 

Teachers and students painting portraits in the Battle of Bannockburn mural.

 

Occasionally more paint went on the students than on the boards… 

During the second week we had the huge help of the art department staff. They had allocated two classrooms as a production base for the murals which was fantastic. It allowed us to have a space where one of the murals could be laid out in its entirety on the floor (so that we and the kids could literally see the big picture), and another that functioned as the main production base with individual boards laid on tables for painting. 

Sharing paint palettes and keeping the colours separate to prevent vegetable soup from forming.


By the end of the second week the children had nearly finished the murals, so much so that we had to start some smaller projects to keep them busy. With the help of the art department and a huge roll of white paper, we set up a large-scale drawing in the art department lobby plus four mural boards of self portraits by all the children sorted into their respective school houses. 

One of the two huge paper murals set up in the art department lobby as overflow/satellite projects.

 

By the time we reached the end of week three, all my anxiety was focussed around the difficulty of getting the mural hung. The stairwells are nearly eight metres tall so the initial plan was to source a boom lift to help with the hanging. In the end my assistant Charlie Savin and I managed to hang the pictures over three intense days from a scaffold tower – we were under something of a deadline as we had to complete the hang over the midterm break, while no kids were on the premises.

The children exploring the stairwells on the unveiling day after their half term break.


Sheila and I were there when the children came back to school on the Thursday morning and there was a huge amount of excitement. All the children felt the accomplishment and pride of being a part of a big community project. The project goals had been achieved and the children had left a legacy in the stairwell as testimony to their effort. As I had said throughout, not all projects grind at the speed of evolution. In this case change came like a creative tsunami. The stairwells are now resplendent in a new coat of vibrant age-appropriate artwork that will hopefully inspire generations to come. 

Chris in front of the Jacobite mural at the end of the project.


As with all of my projects, every step was filmed and time lapsed. Click HERE to see the final video of the murals’ creation.

And finally – the finished murals, pieced together:

The finished Viking mural.
The finished Jacobite mural.
The finished Battle of Bannockburn mural.
The finished evacuees mural, surrounding the original mosaic map.

Categories: Art, Murals

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