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A Custom House Christmas

21 December, 2016

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The digital flier for the Christmas event, showcasing the neoclassical Georgian building in which we now work.

Celebrating the Season at Leith Custom House 
 

After six years at my previous studio at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh, I recently moved to Custom House in Leith; a stunning neoclassical pillared building that is a central landmark on the Leith landscape. After a prolonged period as the National Museums of Scotland’s storage facility, this A-List Georgian building is now being managed by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust who are encouraging a wide variety of creative people to build a new hive of activity in the heart of Leith.

There are two distinct buildings on the site: a the larger, more grand building situated on the corner of the Commercial Street and the Water of Leith, and the “cruiser” store, located behind the main building on a narrow cobbled lane that has been hidden from view for years. My new studio backs directly onto this lane via an extremely handy loading bay and this provides me with much better access for loading my often bulky murals.

Even more exciting however is the nascent creative community that is burgeoning within the space. The Christmas event on 17th and 18th December was the first open studio day that I’d been involved in at the Custom House since the move and therefore I thought I’d celebrate by undertaking my first live painting event in the new space.

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Studio manager Sheila Masson at work covering the walls of the loading baywith an undercoat of emulsion.
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The loading bay makeover fully underway as it is transformed into a Narnia-themed space.

The large loading bay was an extremely bland and tired-looking area so with the blessing of SBHT Director Una Richards, we set out to give it a seasonal makeover. As our new studio opens directly onto this space, I felt it was extremely important it project the creativity and joy that the new building and its new tenants aspire to. I enlisted my studio manager Sheila Masson – a talented artist (as well as a powerful brain) and we started work on the Wednesday afternoon, priming the space in preparation for our plan.

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Sheila and Chris adhering to health and safety during extensive spray work in the loading bay.
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A gigantic Aslan appears out of the snowy landscape in the loading bay.
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Sheila flexing her muscles on the scaffolding as she applies spray painted hand-cut stencils late into the evening.

We decided to paint a Narnia themed mural as although there is a Christmas element to the story, it does not define it, so therefore the mural will remain relevant till spring. We spray painted a snowy landscape with a large scale Aslan and the ubiquitous lamp post front and centre. Sheila made a number of beautiful snow stencils that really set the tone and we quickly built an atmospheric frosted landscape.

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Detail of some of the stencilling and freehand collaborative work that Sheila and Chris created on the loading bay walls.
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Detail of some of the stencilling and freehand collaborative work that Sheila and Chris created on the loading bay walls.

Come the main event on the Saturday however it was important that we kept spray paints to a minimum due to the health and safety issues (and the pong!). The alley was filled food stalls and visitors to the building as well as regular Leith Farmers Market shoppers who wandered into the newly revealed space.

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Visitors to Leith Custom House wandering through the loading bay and out into Custom Lane, where they could enjoy hot food and do a spot of Christmas shopping.
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We also set up a stall of our own posters, prints, postcards and t-shirts (also available on our website if you missed out!) which were very popular for Christmas presents.
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Chris painting life size cut outs during the Christmas event at Leith Custom House.
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Santa nestled in the loading bay.

Moving on from the spray painted walls I changed my focus to shaped life size characters from the book, cut from large sheets of wooden board. I snared a few tenants and SHBT friends to pose for the The White Witch, her dwarf, Mr. Tumnus and a large scale Santa.

To keep the characters on theme and to compliment the visuals in the loading bay, I reused Sheila’s stencils to add surface detailing. The end result had a vibrancy reminiscent of textile design or a Rauschenberg painting.

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Detail of the White Witch’s dress which utilises some of the stencils that Sheila made for the loading bay walls.
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Stencils drying on the scaffolding during the painting of the loading bay.

The joy for me in collaboration is that every new partner brings fresh tools to the army and in this way Sheila’s stencils and application to the cause really enriched the product and added a further depth and subtlety to my directness and drive. 

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Interaction between Chris’s freehand and Sheila’s stencilled spray work.
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Three of the Narnia cut out characters inserted into their virtual stage set in the newly painted loading bay.

The loading bay mural is now established and the plan is to periodically adapt the visuals over the coming months and years. The hope is the magic will be infectious and over the coming years the building will permanently acquire some of the magic of Narnia.

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Scots in the West End

20 December, 2016

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Chris painting portraits on December 20th, 2016.

Adding atmosphere to an underground restaurant

Video now ready – watch here 

I am currently painting a new mural for the William Street restaurant ‘A Room in the West End’, an Edinburgh establishment downstairs from Teuchters pub. I have dined there a number of times, most recently on my 40th birthday and I know the owner Peter Knight through my long affiliation to Boroughmuir Rugby Club.

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The exterior of Teuchters pub in Edinburgh; the Room In the West End restaurant is located inside and down the stairs.

They already had a mural in their cosy subterranean location, but the last time that I dined there I mentioned to Peter that I thought it was looking a little tired and dated. I suggested that they could do with a rethink as it wasn’t adding value to the restaurant. It took a year or so but Peter came around to my line of thinking and agreed to have me fix it for them.

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The initial design of the mural for the restaurant walls.

The brief as was to reflect the West End/Central Edinburgh location, to visually push the wall back with added depth, but also make the room look exciting, populous and atmospheric. Ideally the mural would become a talking point and would make the restaurant a destination venue. I decided to combine my signature crowd mural concept with a 12m landscape depiction of Edinburgh’s Old Town, sweeping across the skyline from North Bridge to Edinburgh Castle.

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Billy Connolly and Super Gran lurk amongst the well-kent Scottish figures in the mural.

Originally the discussion as to who would be painted into the crowd revolved around the use of regulars, locals and restaurant staff, but also with a strong rugby element as the pub is a haunt of the Six Nations Championship revellers. However the mural has quickly become a nostalgia piece to innumerable Scottish celebrities and the crowd is now a 50/50 mix of celebs and punters, which should result in visitors looking more closely at the painting in order to identify the well-kent faces amongst the lesser-known crowd. 

My crowd scenes frequently feature one or two celebrities but largely my focus has been on the general public. In my twenties I worked for as a magazine illustrator, painting for over 30 different magazines and they would often ask me to paint celebrity portraits within the context of editorial illustrations. So working on this mural has in many ways felt like a blast from the past for me.

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Scottish musicians The Proclaimers, Shirley Manson and Rod Stewart join in the revelry in the mural.
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Chris using his ever-present iPad for photo reference during the painting of the mural.

The extra muscle memory from painting around 6000 portraits in the last five years has meant that I have found this task considerably easier than I used to. The internet has improved celebrity photo reference immeasurable – laying hands on good celebrity photo reference is so much easier and allying that with my ubiquitous iPad has allowed the mural to build relatively easily.

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Some of Edinburgh’s Old Town buildings depicted in the mural, looming above the ghostly outlines of people whose portraits are waiting to be painted.
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Scottish singers Susan Boyle, Lulu, and Sharleen Spiteri of the band Texas make an appearance in the mural.
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Room in the West End owner Peter Knight enjoys the company of Sharleen Spiteri, KT Tunstall and Annie Lennox at his table in the mural.
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Chris painting the mural in the early days of its progression – the skyline has been completed but the portraits are yet to start.

The only real issue has been negotiating painting time around the comings-and-goings of a successful restaurant. In order to not disrupt the customers’ meals, I’ve had to work in and around the Christmas rush which has meant arriving at 7am and leaving around 2pm. After the initial painting of the Edinburgh skyline, each day by lunchtime I have typically managed to produce around ten portraits.

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Painting the first portrait of the mural.
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Chris consulting his iPad during painting.

My plan is to finish the mural by mid January and launch the mural publicly in time for the Six Nations tournament – hopefully with some more famous rugby faces identifiable in the crowd scenes.

Categories: Murals

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Santa Invades Norwich Castle

2 December, 2016

Projecting Paintings onto Norwich Castle

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Footage of Chris (live painting, while dressed as Santa) is projected onto Norwich Castle as part of their Christmas celebrations. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

In  October 2016 I was asked by Edinburgh-based Double Take Projections (who specialise in large-scale projections nationwide) if I would produce some paintings specifically to create some time lapse footage for the city of Norwich’s 2016 Christmas celebrations. As Double Take Projections are top professionals in the field with a track history of success, the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) approached them to “paint” a number of local landmark buildings with projected animations and time-lapse footage.

Painting in front of time-lapse cameras has become an intrinsic part of my working practice over the past few years. Working in collaboration with editor Mettje Hunneman, I have now produced more than 20 short films which document my work process in this way. In addition to being a great publicity device and adding to my social media profile, I also find that the presence of time-lapse cameras provides me with added creative focus. The performance element of producing paintings on film keeps me engaged with the canvas and it forces me to be braver in my output. Furthermore, filming encourages me to keep working regardless of physical discomfort or tiredness, thereby increasing my productivity.

 

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Chris being photographed and filmed while painting a Christmas mural in his studio in Edinburgh. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

For three days at the end of October I painted in the studio while dressed as Santa (complete with a partially moulting fake white beard) while cameraman Adam Robertson kept a watchful eye on proceedings.

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Working on the Norwich BID logo in the studio in Edinburgh. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.
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The painted Norwich BID logo is projected onto Norwich Castle. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

The images grew exponentially in size as the days rolled on; I began with an A0-size evolving painted Norwich BID logo, followed by a Norwich street scene measuring four feet by five feet, before finishing with an eight foot by twelve foot mini mural designed as a massive Norwich-themed Christmas card. I painted Santa himself in the the background and local celebrities Delia Smith and Stephen Fry pulling a cracker in the foreground. The conceptual idea was that the live action Santa ‘character’ (me) would begin as just a hand in the frame while painting the logo, but then would become increasingly dwarfed by the painting as the film unfolded.

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Chris painting the Christmas mural in the studio in Edinburgh. Stephen Fry is at right, and Delia Smith is awaiting painting at left. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.
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Chris with the finished painting in the studio in Edinburgh. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

All the years of event painting proved to be very useful in this venture as I now know that the camera likes me to act decisively, and ideally I need to make big decisions as I go. It was also nice to find a different format for that experience with this project.

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Painting projections on Norwich Castle. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

In late November I visited Norwich for a day while en route to London, in order to see the projection installed in the city. It was most bizarre to see myself on such a large scale, even if I was in my Santa disguise. I have friends in Norwich who will have to look at Santa’s bottom for the whole seven week run and know that it’s me, which can only increase their festive cheer.

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Painting projections on Norwich Castle. Photo courtesy Adam Robertson/Double Take Projections.

The main thing is that the footage and the animations that Double Take Productions created alongside the mural looked fantastic, and it came together to help create exhilarating and atmospheric new Christmas festivities in Norwich. For me personally, it’s really exciting that my time-lapse experiences can combine so seamlessly with my illustration skills. The footage that we generated was almost instantly created in conjunction with the computer animations and it really increased the quality of the product and the feeling of joy in the whole city.

Categories: Murals

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Artists Riot in the Streets

22 November, 2016

Agitating with the ADP Riot Tour

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Artists Chris Rutterford and Elph assessing their work while standing in front of the ADP shipping container, which houses a vast post-apocalyptic landscape viewable through tiny portholes.

The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (ADP) is a trilogy of artworks by Jimmy Cauty on a nationwide tour across the UK – each artwork is a 1:87 scale model housed in a shipping container, which are viewed through observation ports in the sides of the containers. It was also installed at Dismaland, the temporary art project organised by street artist Banksy and constructed in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England in 2015.

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View through one of the tiny portholes into the ADP shipping container.

 

The artwork has been touring the UK in 2016, specifically appearing in venues where there has been a history of rioting. Edinburgh’s Grassmarket was chosen as one of the tours destinations as it was the scene of the 1736 Porteous Riots, when Captain John Porteous, an unpopular chief of the City Guard, was overseeing the hanging of a local smuggler Andrew Wilson. When the watching crowds began to get unruly, Captain Porteous instructed the City Guard to shoot above the crowd’s heads and they subsequently wounded local residents who were watching from tenement windows. This exacerbated the already volatile situation, at which point Porteous instructed the the City Guard to shoot into the crowd, resulting in the deaths of six people.

 

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The Porteous Mob, painted in 1855 by James Drummond, RSA FSA (1816–1877).

Captain Porteous was arrested for murder but after discovering that plans were afoot to arrange a pardon for him, a mob converged on the Tolbooth on the Royal Mile and he was dragged out of his prison cell and back down to the Grassmarket, where he was lynched, dying a deeply unpleasant death. Captain Porteous was buried in the adjacent Greyfriars Kirkyard in a grave marked with a simple ‘P’. This was replaced in 1973 by a stone bearing his full name and the moniker ‘All passion spent’.

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Ahead of the closing weekend of the ADP Riot Tour’s installation in Edinburgh, I was asked by the Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District (BID) and events organisers Too Much Fun Club to paint a mural of the scene alongside renowned Scottish street artist and illustrator, Elph. Working on connected octagonal boards, Elph and I engaged visitors to the Grassmarket as we worked on our separate but related public art works.

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Elph invited audience participation with hands-on painting by the public, and I convinced visitors to pose for portraits to be incorporated into the scene. My crowd scene painting was inspired in part by James Drummond RSA who painted the riot in 1855.

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The detritus of live painting.

Our pictures were situated back to back over the weekend and it was really great to have the two different styles complement and contrast one another and in an unintentional twist, even our clothes ended up matching our paintings.

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Artists Chris Rutterford and Elph with their artwork and unintentionally matching clothing.

Elph also created some fantastic 360 degree footage of the two murals which can be viewed here: Elph 1 and Elph 2 

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Chris Rutterford working on his Porteous Riots mural in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
Categories: Grassmarket, Murals

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Continuing collaborations with Edinburgh’s Greater Grassmarket BID

21 November, 2016

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Chris live-painting his Penny Farthing mini mural in the Grassmarket on September 24, 2016.

Live-Painting in Edinburgh’s Historic Grassmarket

The Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District is a five-year project (starting February 2013) where all businesses within the defined area have come together to invest collectively to benefit business and local economy growth through local improvements, activities and business support in addition to those delivered by City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Government. Their objectives include creating a sense of place, attracting more footfall to the area and raising the profile and improving the perception of the area, and I am delighted to be involved in these ambitions.

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Foreign visitors to Edinburgh capturing Chris’s live-painting event in the Grassmarket.
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Chris live-painting the Penny Farthing mini mural at left, while his Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

In 2014 I created my Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural within this Greater Grassmarket BID area, live painting onsite the notorious story of the one of the areas most famous residents – a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket on the 2nd of September 1724 for murdering her illegitimate newborn baby. Miraculously she survived the hanging and as she could not be executed for a second time for the same crime, she received a full pardon and went on to live a long life, garnering the nickname ‘Half Hangit’ Maggie.’

 

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Chris’s Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

In September of this year, the Greater Grassmarket BID events team led by Callum Ross wanted some extra colour in their proposed ‘Mobility Week’. Designed to celebrate mobility in all forms and set it within the historic context of the Grassmarket, they commissioned a diverse group of performers which included musicians, actors and even penny farthing demonstrations running up and down the square.

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Chris’s Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

I was asked to provide some pictorial colour and I produced a two metre by two metre Victorian-era painting of two men on penny farthings racing a donkey-riding man through the Grassmarket. I took inspiration from the classic beachside postcards produced by Donald McGill in the early to mid 20th century, and built a painting that was fun and light humoured, very much in keeping with the spirit of the day

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Black and white and colour illustrations are the initial planning drawings for the Penny Farthing mini mural

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As always I asked visitors at the event to participate as characters in the picture, and they really entered the spirit of the piece. In addition to the new painting, I took my Maggie Dickson mural along and it was used as an evocative backdrop for the performers on the stage beside me. If possible it’s always nice to have some visual context from one of my previous artworks and visitors seem to enjoy seeing other finished pieces.

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Above: Jason Fricke, an American visitor to the Grassmarket, gets in character – and ends up in the mural (see final piece below).

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The event was held on my birthday and was a splendid way to spend the day, which was topped off by the best pastry ever delivered by Sheila, my studio manager.

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The (almost) finished Penny Farthing mini mural, being worked on back in the studio.

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Unveiling the new Galashiels Gateway Mural

3 October, 2016

 

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Photo copyright Phil Wilkinson www.philwilkinson.net


In late 2015 I had a meeting with a local Scottish Borders community organisation called Energise Galashiels. Once dominated by a thriving textile industry and the subject of two Robert Burns poems, the group were concerned that Gala town centre was becoming bedraggled and they were resolved to rectify this.

The opportunity to work with a motivated local group in order to help change the destiny of a town seemed like another exciting artistic adventure. I had worked on a similar project in the Midlothian area of Mayfield and Easthouses, creating a community mural with school kids to enliven the entrance to their town.

 

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A montage of the Galashiels mural site, showing the “before”, a composite with the proposed drawing plans applied, and an “after” view.

 

 

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Some inspiration for the mural – The Railway Station by William Powell Frith, William Powell, 1862.
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An early drawing plan for the mural.

We resolved to launch a new crowd mural using the impending visit of the iconic Flying Scotsman train both as subject matter and as a launch event. I brought my train to town on 12 bespoke five foot squared canvas boards and locals were invited to put their friends and family into the picture for a modest donation.

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Galashiels locals posing for photo reference before being painted into the mural.
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Michelle and Liz of “Liz’s Gifts” shop on Douglas Bridge, posing for photo reference before being painted into the mural.
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A local train buff and former train driver posing for photo reference before being painted into the mural.

Dressed in my usual painting regalia (a leather kilt, tweed waistcoat and top hat) I worked in town from Friday morning through till Sunday evening, painting the picture and collecting photo reference in the form of portraits of Gala locals. I had helpers in the form of two young painters named Kat and Robbie, plus my mate Charlie and two Sheilas (Sheila Armstrong and Sheila Robertson), who worked as a team gathering the reference material. My kids Red and Riley also helped on the Sunday.

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Working with Kat and Robbie on site in Galashiels.

After the live painting event in Galashiels, I took the picture back to Edinburgh’s Tron Kirk which was my main Edinburgh painting base at the time. I worked on it publicly for the next four months on and off, which basically involved digging my way out from underneath the mountain of photo reference that we had collected. I also painted a mixed selection of Galashiels notables and celebrities into the picture… and also Scottish TV favourite Lorraine kelly who always features in my pictures.

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The mural in progress inside the atmospheric Tron Kirk in Edinburgh.
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Working on the mural inside the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh.

The finished painting was unveiled in Galashiels by Lord David Steel on October 1st, during the inaugural Creative Coathanger festival which featured a fortnight of events and artistic activity designed to cement Gala’s place as a creative hub for the borders and take advantage of the brand new train link. Many excited participants gathered in front of the mural to find themselves amongst the painted crowds and the event garnered articles in all the Scottish newspapers and on STV Borders.

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Unveiling the mural in Galashiels with Sir David Steel and Energise Galashiels chair Mike Gray.
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Galashiels locals checking out the new mural on the unveiling day.
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A Galashiels local with her dog (who appears in the mural by itself).

The real hope is that this brand new and welcoming imagery at the doorway of the town will help create a new story for the community and support the forging of a bright future for Galashiels.

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The finished Galashiels mural.
Categories: Murals, Scotland

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Pirates of Clanranald at Culross Palace

26 September, 2016

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Continuing my live painting adventures in collaboration with the fearsome Clanranald Trust for Scotland, in July I painted at their pirate themed weekend. 

clr2016-09-23-17-00-07The setting was the glorious Culross Palace, a beautiful 16th century merchant’s house in Fife which has featured prominently as a location in the television programme Outlander.

23-07-2016_img_7805webThis is the second time that I’ve painted at a pirate event with the Clan, so I brought last year’s Boarding Party mural as an additional backdrop, which really helped set the scene and brought an added feel of the sea to the occasion.

clr2016-09-23-16-57-47The Clan put on a fantastic and professional show as usual. Culross Palace was filled with a motley crew of pirates and red coats, and the public revelled in the theatrical antics of the professional rogues.

clr2016-09-23-16-59-23Clanranald’s engaging and educational all-action living history re-enactments were scattered throughout the historic rooms, gardens and courtyards of the Palace.

clr2016-09-23-16-57-51Dressed as a pirate throughout the event, I spent the weekend attempting to capture the atmosphere of the event and tell the tale of what I saw.

Special thanks to Clanranald and Lorna McLean for the use of some of their photos.

Categories: Murals, Scotland

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Live painting at ScotCon 2016

23 September, 2016

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The 2016 ScotCon convention took place at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on 6th September and it drew fans of all things Scottish from all over the world. We met visitors from as far afield as France, Denmark and North America.

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The event was Outlander themed (with a number of the cast members present) so the organisers asked me to take along a selection of Jacobite themed murals for the space. My cut-out figure of Jamie from Outlander was a popular item and we encouraged visitors to take selfies with him.

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I dressed the space for ScotCon with numerous historic Scottish murals from my archive. Sandwiched between my Maggie Dickson/Grassmarket mural and our live painting space/table of lovely prints and posters, was the very talented Micaela Walker, who was also live painting a group portrait of Outlander characters. 

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We installed the bar scene of my Tam o’Shanter mural which provided an excellent backdrop for the ladies of Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh who sang traditional songs at their waulking board. 

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I also brought them my Jacobite Rogues mural featuring a motley crew of Jacobite ruffians, which sat at the back of the stage, and also my pirates mural which ended up providing a backdrop for a Muay Thai martial arts demonstration.

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Providing an added layer of atmosphere and authenticity to the Corn Exchange, a Scottish Country Dancing competition was in full flow and we made friends with the delightful Amy, pictured here with her little sister – both of whom won awards. Congrats!

I was of course painting live at the event, and made a fabulous new lion rampant royal flag. This was set on a splendid yellow tartan background, which was painted before the event by the awesome team of Fiona Rutterford and studio manager Sheila Masson.

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Categories: Murals

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Sprucing up The Oz Bar

16 September, 2016

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The Oz Bar has been serving Edinburgh for more than twenty years and it has a strong legacy of artwork, including a boxing kangaroo and a few mini murals dotted around the premises. I was asked me to come in and give the place a brand new street art edge, smartening up the main space and toilets whilst retaining the pub’s character.

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The ceiling of main bar had already been painted a dark green so I used this as a background for a huge image of a shark and a crocodile in combat. This is so big that you can only read it as you walk through the space.

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 To complement this and to add clarity, I painted an acrylic picture of ‘pool sharks’ hustling for above their table.

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To emphasise the Australian theme we smartened up their signs by giving them an Aboriginal design throughout and also painted a massive new Australian flag as a frame for one of their existing pictures. 

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The male toilets have the familiar piquant aroma that many pubs can have, so I thought it would be funny to booby trap them with dangerous animals, as though the smell was venom. There is now a large funnel web spider trying to bite customers while they are on the throne and a tiger snake striking at their willies when they are having a wee.

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The ladies loos has a gentler feel but perhaps no less dangerous, as it’s been decorated to feel as if you have stepped into a star-clad jellyfish. Both rooms are designed to be an entirely immersive experience.

The end result uses some of the Oz Bar’s well-established artwork to its best advantage, and the new additions blend seamlessly with the old, making it feel like it’s always been that way. Since the project was completed there has been an exponential increase in business – alongside the Edinburgh natives, students and tourists have come in droves and the pub is always lively, but not at the expense of their regulars’ happiness.

The Oz Bar is set for a new and exciting phase of trade and it’s great to know the artwork has made a difference.

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The Flying Scotsman and the Galashiels Gateway mural

4 August, 2016

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The original Galashiels Gateway mural design sketch.

Galashiels is a Scottish Borders town with a strong history and a heritage of Victorian artwork. However, like many modern towns, it’s been swamped by a uninspiring mix of generic national chainstore shop fronts which dominate the urban landscape but offer no site-specific Gala-related imagery.

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An illustration of “before and after”; how the Galashiels Gateway mural might look after completion.

A local group of citizens called ‘Energise Gala’ approached me asking if I had any ideas on how to improve the area. I have a real interest in the idea of space changing, whether it be transforming interior rooms or exterior areas of towns. This seemed fantastic opportunity to start changing the visual narrative of the town for the better. 

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The Flying Scotsman visiting Galashiels on May 15, 2016.

Galashiels recently gained a new rail link which is a major bonus to the town, but its physical gateway is not massively welcoming at the moment, and it has been looking a bit bedraggled. The iconic Flying Scotsman train visited the town in May 2016, which proved to be a major event in the area, and so we decided to use this theme in creating a brand new gateway mural. It seemed like a positive and dynamic metaphor at the centre of the picture, and as luck would have it, we found an available wall in an ideal location just over Douglas Bridge on the entry to the town.

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Chris getting some help from a couple of local Gala lads.

Including the community in the very fabric of the painting was vital to project, so I decided to build one of my crowd murals alongside the image of the Flying Scotsman and cast the locals in the crowd scene. After preparing a basic train painting in Edinburgh, we threw a launch event in Gala where I gathered lots of locals’ photo reference for the portrait painting. Some young people from the community also helped paint in the event and a small team from Energise Gala made the photo references.

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The Galashiels Gateway mural underway in the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

If you want to see the mural in progress, it is currently housed in the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I’ve almost completed using all of the photo reference that I gathered during the launch weekend and am now opening it up so the general public can sign up if they want to be included in the crowd scene. It will be my main project throughout Edinburgh festival 2016. The plan is to have the picture finished and hung in Galashiels at the October 2016 ‘Creative Coathanger’ event – a festival of all things design and the creative arts.

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Chris Rutterford at work on the Galashiels Gateway mural in the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Categories: Murals

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